Arif Niazi took the LSE Global Politics of Protest and Change summer school course in July 2011. As a passionate civil society advocate in Afghanistan, he wanted to learn more about how, in his words, "people can help their country". The course inspired him to introduce social media as a new model for change at a European Union Police Mission (EUPOL) human rights conference, where EUPOL accepted his proposal to share project updates and resources information on Facebook as a cost-effective means of engaging civil society actors.
"Doing the summer school was an amazing experience," says Arif. "I've lived in a country at war for the past 30 years, so to come to the LSE and study in an intellectual and friendly environment was really different for me. The students on the course came from 19 countries; we debated ideas and I could talk openly about Afghanistan. The lecturers were welcoming and inspiring. I learnt a lot about social media activism from them, especially from an Egyptian activist who used Facebook to catalyse action amongst citizens during the revolution."
He adds: "Studying at the summer school was the best three weeks of my life - I learned a lot of new ideas which I've shared with CSOs in Afghanistan, I made many friends who I'm still in touch with, and I got to see London! I'm now planning on taking a masters degree and would love to come back to the LSE."
Arif was awarded an Open Society Foundation scholarship to attend The Global Politics of Protest and Change, which is unique in its bottom-up approach to the study of politics and social change in an era of globalisation. The course, convened by Dr Iavor Rangelov and Dr Sabine Selchow, offers a unique opportunity for students to engage with some of the leading scholars in the study of globalization, including Professor Mary Kaldor, Director of LSE's Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit and author of Global Civil Society: An Answer to War; Lord Meghnad Desai, a pioneer of the study of economic globalisation, and Professor Ruti Teitel from New York Law School, author of Humanity’s Law.
Lectures in the course focus on specific issues ranging from political consumerism, new media and forms of protest, to the anti-capitalist movement and the 'war on terror'. The role of key global actors are explored, including social movements and NGOs, nationalist and religious movements, the global media, global summits, and institutions such as the International Criminal Court, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.