Global Civil Society

  • Summer schools
  • Department of International Development
  • Application code SS-IR250
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

UPDATE: Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic we will no longer be offering this course in summer 2020. Please check our latest news on this situation here.

It is thirty years since the 1989 revolutions. The big idea that came out of those revolutions was global civil society. Global civil society refers to the growth of activism, politics and debate across national borders, along with the emergence of global governance and rights based international law.

This inter-disciplinary course will introduce students both to the concept of global civil society, its history, critiques and multiple interpretations, as well as the practical manifestations of global civil society in diverse fields such as climate change, human rights, social justice, war and peace.

This course is unique in its bottom-up approach to the study of politics and social change, enabling students to develop understanding of the role of human agency and activism in the process of globalisation.

Session: Two
Dates: 13 July – 31 July 2020
Convenors: Professor Mary Kaldor and Dr Iavor Rangelov
Guest lecturers include: Dr Geoffrey Pleyers, Dr Sabine Selchow, civil society activists and practitioners.


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 200 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees: Click here for information

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: Written work (25%) and one written examination (75%)

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

More information on exams and credit


At least one introductory course in either social science (e.g. political science, international relations, sociology, economics), history, or law.

This is an intermediate level course and requires some basic knowledge in areas of politics, development, law, or international relations. It is particularly useful for students with a first degree, advanced undergraduates or those with practical experience in NGOs, multinational corporations or international organisations.

Programme structure

  • Origins of the Idea of Civil Society
  • The Revolutions of 1989 and the Arab Spring
  • Global Political Actors
  • Digital Activism and Media
  • Activism, Surveillance and Security
  • Subterranean Politics
  • The Anti-Capitalism Movement | Occupy
  • Climate Change Activism | The Extinction Rebellion
  • Nationalist and Religious Movements
  • Genocide, New Wars and Civil Society
  • Race, Sexuality, and Social Movements
  • Global Civil Society and Its Critics

Course outcomes

The course offers students an opportunity to engage with some of the leading scholars in the study of globalisation and with activists and practitioners driving global change.


LSE’s Department of International Development promotes interdisciplinary postgraduate teaching and research on processes of social, political and economic development and change. The department is dedicated to understanding problems of poverty and late development within local communities, as well as national and international political and economic systems.   

Research and teaching in the department is concerned with the causes of poverty, social exclusion, economic stagnation, humanitarian crises and human security. Their aim is to provide students with an understanding of why and how some late developing countries have succeeded in overcoming these problems while others have not or have seen their progress derailed by disasters and conflicts. There are also research units that operate through the department. Faculty have considerable experience in living and working in the developing world and most have engaged in policy-relevant research and consultancy work with international development agencies or non-governmental organisations.             

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s international development faculty.

Reading materials

IR250: Global Civil Society Course Pack will be provided.

Students are encouraged to have a look at the Global Civil Society Yearbooks.

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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