Demand the Impossible was founded in 2012 with a summer school in London. We brought around 30 young people together for an intensive week debating political ideas, looking at social movements that have changed society and even doing some political activism as part of the course - for many participants, for the first time. After the success ofthe course, including a positive report in the Guardian, we’ve continued to run courses. By the start of 2017 there had been six Demand the Impossible courses, including one in Glasgow, and another planned for Manchester in July 2017.
What’s the aim of Demand the Impossible?
Demand the Impossible aims to help young people, especially those from less privileged backgrounds, develop a critical understanding of power in society and develop the confidence and skills to get active in changing society. We do this through exploring ideas in a participatory, empowering way, engaging with inspiring speakers and groups, and developing practical skills by engaging in activism.
What’s Demand the Impossible like?
We explore ideas in an interactive and empowering way, with the ideas and voice of participants at the centre of things. We bring in thinkers and activists to talk about their ideas and experiences and discuss with participants in an informal way. Previous courses have also featured role plays, debates, walking tours and other immersive learning experiences.
Demand the Impossible also gives participants a taste of real activism. Participants plan and carry out campaign activities on issues of their choice, often for the first time. In previous years we’ve seen participants challenging gentrification, austerity and sexism through debates, protests and visual displays.
Demand the Impossible is also a community, and many young people who have met on the course have gone on to make powerful friendships, to work together in campaigns and activist groups, and to be part of a network of young people sharing ideas and experiences.
We welcome applications from everyone aged 16-25, but we prioritise making Demand the Impossible available to people from less privileged backgrounds. We use the government Widening Participation criteria as a guide in reviewing applications, and try to ensure that a clear majority of participants meet this criteria. That doesn’t mean you can’t apply if you don’t meet the WP criteria - there is some flexibility.
Who runs Demand the Impossible?
Demand the Impossible is run by Ed Lewis and Jacob Mukherjee. Between them they have over 20 years’ experience of teaching, lecturing and political activism.
When not working on Demand the Impossible, Jacob is studying for a PhD on activism and social movements and teaching at Goldsmiths University, while Ed is a national organiser for the campaigning organisation Global Justice Now.