This activity uses a framework that legal scholar Martha Minow uses to analyze the ways in which people can make change. She observed that one of the biggest barriers that individuals face in getting involved is that it is hard to know what actual steps to take:
Often times we see something that's unjust and we wonder, “Where do I go? What do I do?”
To help individuals identify concrete actions to take when they “choose to participate,” Minow developed a “levers of power” framework to map out the organizations, institutions, and technologies that can enable us to strengthen the impact of our voices and our actions. The levers include:
- Government (National, State, Local)
- Nonprofit Organizations/Charities
- Industry/Commercial Organizations
- Professional Media
- Social Media/Internet
- Schools and Education
- Influential Individuals (Authors, Lecturers, etc.)
Briefly explain Martha Minow’s framework to your students. Share with your students that many people feel paralyzed when they think about climate change because it is such a big issue, and it can feel like our individual actions will not make enough of a difference. Ask your students:
- Do you ever think about taking action on climate change or another issue that impacts your community?
- What obstacles do you think can make it difficult for you or other young people to act on issues that you care about?
Explain to your students that understanding “levers of power” can help them think of ways to act for change. Introduce each lever of power to your students and then discuss the following questions:
- What can each group or lever do to combat climate change?
- What strategies can young people use to influence each lever?
Note: You can organize this activity as a full-class discussion. Alternatively, you can write each lever on a piece of chart paper and post the chart paper around the room. Divide your class into seven groups, and assign each group a different lever to start. After they have discussed their first lever, they can rotate to the next one, and so on, until each group of students has had a chance to discuss each lever.