About Demand the Impossible
“The experience has been a life-changing journey into activism for me. I went from being passive to very active in politics, organising and taking part in demonstrations. It has been a surreal and amazing year” - Hidigo, participant on Demand the Impossible 2016/17
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 of the course, including a positive report in the Guardian, we’ve run courses every year since. So far there have been eight Demand the Impossible courses in London, Glasgow and Manchester; the ninth will be in London from October-December 2019.
Demand the Impossible aims to help young people develop a critical understanding of power in society and gain the confidence and skills to get politically active. We want our participants to be able to think critically about social injustice, imagine how things could be different and discuss ways of achieving change. Activism can be hard to get into - particularly to marginalised groups - so one of our aims is to make it easier for young people to participate in campaigns and movements. We use Widening Participation criteria to help us select applicants.
On Demand the Impossible, we explore politics in an interactive and empowering way, with the ideas and voices of participants at the centre. We bring in thinkers and activists to talk about their ideas and experiences. We use role plays, debates, walking tours and other innovative learning experiences.
Demand the Impossible also gives young people a taste of real activism, often for the first time. Participants plan and carry out campaign activities on issues of their choice - for examples, challenging gentrification, austerity and sexism through debates, protests and visual displays.
Below, participants from Demand the Impossible 2015 take action against gentrification and social cleansing, in collaboration with Take Back the City.
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.
Who runs Demand the Impossible?
Every Demand the Impossible course has involved a large number of educators, activists and thinkers contributing their ideas, time and energy to make the courses successful. A number of former course participants have also helped plan and deliver sessions.
Demand the Impossible was set up by Ed Lewis and Jacob Mukherjee, who have over 20 years' experience of teaching, lecturing and political activism between them. Jacob has a PhD on activism and social movements and now lectures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Ed is an organiser at the National Education Union. For Demand the Impossible 2019, activists from Global Justice Now and The World Transformed will help plan and facilitate some sessions.
Supporting wider political education
We're eager to share what we've learned through running Demand the Impossible with others who want to run political education activities or projects of their own. We'll update this website with shareable resources and details of training sessions when they become available. In the meantime, if you'd like to discuss a project and want to get advice or input from us, please contact us at email@example.com.
Demand the Impossible is supported by Global Justice Now - a social justice organisation challenging the powerful to create a more just and equal word - and political education group The World Transformed, organisers of Europe’s largest political festival. A number of Demand the Impossible participants have become involved with Global Justice Now's new youth network.
We are currently funded by the The World Transformed and Global Justice Now.