2015 Hart House Hancock Lecture

The Myth of Slacktivism

Hashtags, Selfies and Ice-Buckets:

The Myth of Slacktivism

with Jennifer Hollett

Join us as digital strategist Jennifer Hollett defines and dissects slacktivism in the 2015 Hancock Lecture.

Has traditional activism taken a back seat to trending topics, Facebook shares, online petitions and viral videos? These predominantly youth-driven campaigns are using technology in new and imaginative ways to attract new voices for causes and build formidable movements as they grow.
How has social media changed the way in which we understand activism? Are today’s youth a nation of everyday activists or dispassionate citizens who would rather mediate their involvement with the most urgent issues of today through technology?
How does digital activism complement or empower traditional forms of activism such as protests, acts of civil disobedience and other interruptions geared at changing public policy and socio-political issues?
Social media activism encompasses a range of online engagement including hashtags, Facebook campaigns, and user-generated content pertaining to social issues and causes, and is often labelled and furthermore dismissed as slacktivism. This is often through a puritan, if not romantic lens of what is considered traditional activism. What would happen if we reject the notion of slacktivism, or better yet embrace it, to build engagement with some of the most pressing issues of our time?
When: Tues., Feb. 10, 2015, at 7 pm
Where: Hart House Theatre
Cost: Free / SOLD OUT!
Reception to follow: Debates Room, Hart House

JENNIFER HOLLETTAbout Jennifer Hollett

Jennifer loves and lives digital. As an award-winning broadcast journalist, Jenn uses social media to increase participation and mobilization in politics and social issues. As a television host and reporter, Jenn has worked for the CBC, CTV, and is a former MuchMusic VJ. In 2002, she travelled to Kabul to host A MuchMusic Special: Afghanistan, a Gemini-nominated documentary. A leading digital expert and visionary, Jenn developed the critically acclaimed ‘Super PAC App’ at the MIT Media Lab, which helped make television campaign ads more transparent to viewers during the 2012 U.S. election.
Human rights and social justice have been a consistent focus in Jenn’s work. She previously managed e-communications for Plan Canada, worked with Journalists for Human Rights to train journalists in Sierra Leone, and volunteered to create YouthCARE, a youth engagement program with CARE Canada. She is a strong advocate for women’s and girls’ rights, and has been proud to moderate the G(irls)20 Summit in Toronto (2010), Paris (2011), Mexico City (2012), and Moscow (2013).
Jennifer has a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Journalism and Communications from Concordia University in Montreal, and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University. As a candidate in the NDP nomination race for the 2013 by-election in Toronto Centre, Jenn believes politics is what we make it. She currently consults on a variety of digital projects.​

More Events


Get Crafty

Details: Students explore concepts and questions of their social engagement, and issues that interest them, while creating vision boards. Using found material from magazines, newspapers, and cut-outs, students will be given the opportunity to explore their own understanding of the term ‘slacktivism’ before the lecture.
When: Thurs., Jan. 15, 2015, 11 am–1 pm
Where: Reading Room
Cost: Free / Tea, cookies and craft materials provided
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Lunch and Learn: How to Kickstart your own Slacktivist Movement

Details: Speakers will be invited to share their experience with social media in non-profit and fundraising realms in an informal lunch setting. Students will be prompted to discuss practical applications of their skills and passions, discuss possibilities and limitations of social media activism, and network with illustrious speakers in a comfortable environment.
When: Wed., Jan. 21, 2015 11:30 am–1: 30 pm
Where: South Dining Room
Cost: Free / Lunch provided
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Talking Walls

Details: The Hancock Lecture, in conjunction with Jemel Ganal and her independent endeavour of creating a tight knit community within the University through her photo-project Humans of UofT, exhibits a collection of photographs encompassing the range of social activism on campus. Exploring different ways students engage with issues pertaining to social justice, Ganal has found a way to tap into our rich student community with one photograph at a time.
When: Jan. 26 – Feb. 14, 2015
Where: First floor corridor, Hart House
Cost: Free
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Conscious Activism Documentary Screening: #Chicago Girl

Details: Come witness the new kind of revolution manifested in recent years through computer technology and social media with #ChicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator. This documentary tells the story of teenager Ala’a Basatneh who helps to coordinate the Syrian revolution from her Chicago home through Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google maps, and camera phones. Through these means Ala’a helps to network activists on the ground in Syria to gain momentum in facing a dictator and to gather evidence through camera technology to inform the world of the human rights atrocities occurring. This documentary illuminates how technology and media that have become part of everyday living for many young people can be used as tools for activism and solidarity with causes occurring all over the world.
When: Mon., Feb. 9, 2015, 6-9 pm
Where: Debates Room, Hart House
Cost: Free
More info >> 

Conversation Cafe with Jesse Brown: Co-hosted with CIUT

Details: Touching upon the role of Canadian media in today’s globalized media landscape, the place of social media in our news consumption, and the impact of media criticism in Canada and on Canadian identity, Jesse Brown will talk to students about his experiences in the media industry, and answer questions pertaining to his opinion on where Canadian media is going, whether its being outsourced, and whether there is a future for students interested in journalism. He will also be invited to talk about his highly successful and independent podcast Canadaland which surpassed its initial asking donation in the crowd-sourcing campaign he hosted last semester. Students will have a chance to listen live to an interview with CIUT radio host Daryn Caister, and ask questions and form a lively debate over coffee and snacks.
When: Thurs., Feb. 12, 2015, 3 pm
Where: Map Room
Cost: Free / Refreshments provided
More info >>

Learn more about the 2015 Hart House Hancock Lecture Student Advisory Committee >>