Skip to content

Law + Social Movements

To bring about social change, analyze the interconnectedness among laws, legal rulings, and strategies that shape the outcomes of social movements.

About this Workshop

Campus: Wellesley College | Rising Grades: 10,11,12

How have laws and court cases been used to shape the social and political landscape of iconic social movements, such as civil rights or climate change? Concurrently, in what ways can today’s activists use legislation to shape broader social policy that leads to transformative change? In Law + Social Movements, explore the interconnectedness among law, courts, and social movements, as well as how they influence and impact each other. Both progress and setbacks in social change rely on legal standards, and this course dissects the ways that advocates and leaders use the law and legislation to promote their movements. Explore the past and present of powerful social movements—like civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQIA+ rights—through case studies, examining the legal progress, and setbacks that different groups have had in the fight for equality. Evaluate the effectiveness of different strategies while covering topics such as immigration, environmental justice, health care, and more. Examine the legal basis for influential court rulings, and how those have impacted the movement and future decisions. Debate and discuss the rationale and lawful arguments behind both sides of social movements, and forecast future legal implications around modern social issues.


Understand Legal Frameworks
Gain an understanding of the legal systems and principles relating to rights and justice in the legal system.

Debate + Discuss
Construct legal arguments for and against social issues to understand the roles of the political and justice systems.

Learn from Advocates for Social Change
Engage with activists working in social movements and learn how they leverage the legal system to enact change.