Mobilizing Hearts and Minds

Mobilizing Hearts and Minds: The Art and Infrastructure of Persuasion 

A free course for activists, organizers, thinkers and doers

  • Tuesdays, from September 19 until December 5
  • 9am Pacific 12 Eastern, 5pm UK, 6pm CET 
  • Activists and radical thinkers learning together about what changes people’s minds
  • 12 weekly sessions (3x 4-week chunks) with discussion, reading and exercises
  • Bringing together activist knowledge, critical theory and insights from cognitive sciences

Thematic clusters:

  1. Why haven’t The oppressed risen up (yet)? September 19 to October 10
  2. Arts of persuasion: How to talk to your racist uncle (or not) October 17 to November 7
  3. Building imaginative infrastructures for thinking in common November 14 to December 5

Learn more at our free open-house session on 12 September 2023 at 12 Eastern, 5pm BST, 6pm CET, etc. Sign up for the open-house here:

Apply to join the 12-week course (or part of it) here:

In this course for people who want to change the world, we’re exploring a common problem: we’re faced with a huge number of people who are skeptical or cynical or stuck in unquestioned beliefs that allow those in power to continue to wreck everything.

How can we change people’s minds and create the conditions where they not only support but join the movements for radical change we desperately need?

Watch a 10-minute welcome video from Max and Sarah

We all know changing people’s minds is vital, but how is it done? A lot of our models are outdated, either framing people simply as rational actors or ideological robots. We’re way behind the advertising industry and dangerous elements of the far right in reconsidering what actually changes minds. 

In this course, we’ll learn from cutting edge science and alternative philosophy to have a series of 12 conversations about how minds change for social, economic, racial and climate justice.

Through facilitated conversations, carefully selected readings, engaging tutorials and role-plays and exercises, we will teach one another how new thinking and the wisdom of social movements can be shared to help change the world.

The course has three four-week sections. Our application form is an application to join for the first four weeks of the course, with an option to renew and join the second and third sections of the course. We will take new applications to join the second and third sections of the course as space arises. 


The premise of the course is that the great struggles of our age for climate, economic, gender, racial and social justice cannot only be won through direct action or persuasive talking points, although both are crucially important. In order to mobilize people we need to learn from recent psychological and sociological scholarship, radical theory and the wisdom of social movements and recognize most people’s deep, human need for connection, safety, purpose, dignity and meaning. Activists, organizers and thinkers dedicated to movements for collective liberation can cultivate the arts of transforming not only minds, but hearts as well. But to do so, we also need to take seriously building infrastructures of persuasion: spaces, processes and times where minds can meaningfully change.

Practically, in this course we will read and discuss carefully selected texts that theorize how the political mind changes from a variety of perspectives (including the perspectives of our enemies, the defenders of the status-quo or worse). We will also have conversations with inspiring organizers and thinkers. And we’ll challenge ourselves and learn from one another with participatory exercises and personal reflections.

The course will meet for 2.5h per week and participants are expected to do about 1h of preparatory work. It will be progressively facilitated to encourage conversation and exchange with the active wish to create a convivial space free of oppression where we can learn from one another. The first three weeks of each of sections of the course will involve discussion and reading, the fourth week of each will involve sharing back from participants about their plans, insights, and working practices going forward. We will also curate a toolkit and directory so that all participants can take the tools and ideas learned in the course, as well as useful contacts, with them into their work beyond the course. This toolkit and directory will grow over time, beyond the 12 weeks. 



We are interested in receiving brief applications from people dedicated to and working towards collective liberation from patriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism and other systems of domination in a variety of ways. We encourage those working through art, through academic inquiry, and through activism of all ages to join us, but also those whose contributions to the struggle are less easily categorized. Our common language will be English and we organize around Atlantic time zones.


Sarah and Max are new collaborators but each brings a wealth of experience and expertise.

Sarah Stein Lubrano is a writer, researcher and political theorist. She lives in London. Her academic expertise is about how the insights of modern cognitive science and social psychology can be responsibly used by critical theorists in the aid of social movements. She has an upcoming book with a major publisher to be announced shortly, out in 2025. It argues that we should stop thinking in terms of “debate” or “the marketplace of ideas” and instead consider the infrastructure that underlies good political thinking. She writes for the public and regularly appears in the media. She is Head of Research for the The Future Narratives Lab, and serves on the Institute of Imagination’s Global Imagination Board as well as the Center for Constructive Dialogues’ Advisory Board. She also works in content strategy and teaches learning design. In earlier lives, she made films, and has been a prison teacher, student welfare officer, obituary writer, mutual aid in her ward in London. 

Max Haiven is a writer, teacher, organizer and, most recently, a game designer originally from Canada, found these days in Berlin. As an academic, his expertise is on the relationship between capitalism and the imagination which has led him to study the radical imagination of social movements as well as the way finance and debt shape the social imaginary. His most recent book, Palm Oil: The Grease of Empire, explored the global history of this everywhere-commodity and his book before that, Revenge Capitalism: The Ghosts of Empire, the Demons of Capital, and the Settling of Unpayable Debts tries to understand the dark forces pushing the economy, and how we can push back. Max has been active in and a facilitator of grassroots anti-capitalist and anti-colonial social movements for over 25 years and currently works with Berlin Versus Amazon and the Common Ecologies project. He has run a lot of online and offline courses and also does some pretty nerdy podcasting.

Dr. Max Haiven

This event can be free because it is supported by RiVAL: The ReImagining Value Action Lab, a workshop for the radical imagination, social justice and decolonization, active online around the world and with an HQ on the North short of GitcheeGumi on Anishinaabe lands in the state currently known as Canada. All RiVAL’s funding comes from arms-length academic institutions.

When and where?

We will meet on the Zoom platform, courtesy of our partners at RiVAL: The ReImagining Value Action Lab.

Parts will be recorded for future materials but confidentiality guaranteed.


This course has three sections, and combines three unique ways of thinking about the question of how minds change. 

Our application form is an application to join for the first four weeks of the course, with an option to renew and join the second and third sections of the course. 

In our first four weeks we look at a century-old tradition on “the left” which asks: why do working and oppressed people so often side with their exploiters and oppressors and what can be done to convince them to join movements for radical change? Using theoretical terms like “ideology” and “hegemony,” this approach reveals a lot about how power works in the abstract – although it sometimes falls short in terms of what it can offer directly to organizers and cultural workers. 

In the second four weeks, we turn to more recent approaches that attempt to understand politics through some of the most recent insights from the cognitive sciences: psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics, which ask: “what else, beyond one’s personal “rational” processing and “considered opinion”, is at play in how people affiliate with or reject political positions?” This work gives us tremendous insight into how complex humans and their psychology can be, and how political orientations are often profoundly shaped by the community and society that shape us, as well as by deep, primordial human needs.  But this work also tends to implicitly (and sometimes explicitly!) reinforce dubious “centrist” political positions, which are, at this moment in history, bananas.

In the third four weeks, we merge the above two approaches with the folklore and accumulated wisdom of social movement organizers and thinkers who have been researching and theorizing what moves minds for generations by necessity. We’ll look at successful and unsuccessful mobilizations and see what works (and doesn’t) and why. 


Learn more at our free open-house session on September 12 at 12 Eastern, 5pm BST, 6pm CET, etc. Sign up for the open-house here:

Our application form is an application to join for the first four weeks of the course, with an option to renew and join the second and third sections of the course. 

To apply to participate, please use the form below, or follow this link:

Questions? Please contact Sarah ( sarah.lubrano at or Max (mhaiven at