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Can People Change the World? Activists, Social Movements, and Utopian Futures | LSE Festival

Hosted by LSE Festival: People and Change

In-person and online public event (Great Hall, Marshall Building)


Dr Faiza Shaheen

Dr Faiza Shaheen

Georgia Haddad Nicolau

Georgia Haddad Nicolau


Dr Armine Ishkanian

Dr Armine Ishkanian

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, inequality is on the rise, but so is grassroots activism. More and more individuals and groups are taking action and using their voices to tackle the growing social and economic inequalities.

Social movements and activists engage with, challenge, and seek to shape policy processes and wider political transformations to tackle inequalities through forms of mobilisation as well as everyday forms of action and resistance. From racial justice to climate emergency and women’s rights, they are imagining and building more equal, just, and sustainable societies all across the world.   

Looking beyond just forms of resistance, this panel will discuss the role of activists and social movements in today’s world and examine their agency in imagining utopian futures and creating change. How are social movements providing creative spaces for not only challenging inequalities but also coming up with alternative ideas for solutions to address the problems they are fighting against? And how and to what extent are these ideas informing policy changes?   

Meet our speakers and chair

Faiza Shaheen (@faizashaheen) is the Program Head for the Inequality and Exclusion Grand Challenge of the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University. Faiza is an economist, writer, and commentator. She is the author of a range of materials and publications covering the most salient social and economic debates of our times, including inequality, austerity, immigration, youth unemployment and social mobility. Faiza has over 15 years of experience researching the trends and consequences of inequality, as well as designing policies and campaigns to address the causes of inequality and exclusion.

Georgia Haddad Nicolau (@georgianicolau) is an Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity and a Co-founder and Director of Brazilian commons-based organisation Instituto Procomum. Georgia is a civil society professional, activist, cultural manager and creative professional. She is also a researcher, trained facilitator and consultant in the fields of social organisations, culture and arts, human rights, innovation, development and creative industries.

Armine Ishkanian (@Armish15) is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Policy and the Executive Director of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme at the International Inequalities Institute. Her research examines the relationship between civil society, democracy, development, and social transformation.  She has examined how civil society organisations and social movements engage in policy processes and transformative politics in a number of countries including Armenia, Egypt, Greece, Russia, Turkey, and the UK. 

You can pre-order the book Know Your Place (UK delivery only) rom our official LSE Events independent book shop, Pages of Hackney.

More about this event

This event is part of the LSE Festival: People and Change running from Monday 12 to Saturday 17 June 2023, with a series of events exploring how change affects people and how people effect change. Booking for all Festival events will open on Monday 15 May.

The Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity (@AFSEE_LSE) is a Global South-focused funded fellowship for mid-career activists, policymakers, researchers, and movement-builders from around the world. Based at the LSE International Inequalities Institute, it is a 20-year programme that commenced in 2017 and was funded with a £64m gift from Atlantic Philanthropies, LSE’s largest ever philanthropic donation. 

Twitter hashtags for this event: #LSEFestival  

Podcast and video

A podcast of this event is available to download from Can People Change the World? Activists, Social Movements, and Utopian Futures.

A video of this event is available to watch at Can People Change the World? Activists, Social Movements, and Utopian Futures

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.

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