Telling Stories and Creating Action: Building Skills Online to Fight Climate Change


The climate crisis is no longer a future threat, it’s a clear and present danger to communities everywhere. So what do we do when everything is on the line? We go all in.

350 is working with communities across the globe to build a global people-powered movement to tackle the fossil fuel industry from every angle.

The scale of climate change is enormous. To be effective in this struggle, we need to equip people commensurate with the size. That means empowering our worldwide network of campaigners to successfully inspire action. 

But in the face of trying to support people all over, we simply cannot keep up with requests for one-on-one, traditional training approaches. We had to think differently with a new reach-and-teach strategy.  

Complex Skills: Using the Elicitive Model

Simply handing out information is not how social movements grow. The top-down, instructor-led world of online classes and courses is too focused on information hand-off and doesn’t invite active participation. This approach wasn’t going to have the impact we need.

Real education isn’t about a transfer of knowledge, it’s about empowering students.

Instead of the transfer of knowledge being one-way, we wanted to use the elicitive model, where information is freely shared and the teacher also learns from their students. Unlike simply learning an HR policy, campaigners need to rely on their own ideas and resources, while being exposed to the knowledge and resources of others. 

As much as possible, we want to root lessons within people’s own psyches and experiences—as opposed to just talking at people. 

When teaching a concept like our introduction to campaigning, we start with open-ended questions to get learners to reflect on ways they have already demonstrated the skill they’re about to hone. 

We rely strongly on the storytelling element and encourages activists to share their experiences, practice pitches, and get to hear how others are using the skills. We want every learner who completes a skill-up to be empowered with the confidence and skills necessary to make a positive difference in the world.

With that in mind, we created what we call: “online skill-ups.”

Why do we call them skill-ups? Because they are not simply trainings or courses taken online. They are designed to skill you up.

Online skill-ups are not a replacement for training—they are a supplemental method for learning, organizing, and encouraging.

In Online Skill-ups we tell participant stories, hold discussions, and encourage questions. We help people to think like a campaigner by, yes, sharing guidelines and principles but also recognizing and honoring that there are no clear right or wrong answers. 

With these skill-ups we can reach members of our network in areas as remote as Nepal—all to support our overall mission of skilling-up climate justice activists around the globe.