10 Best Colleges for Activists

10 Best Colleges for Activists

Written by: Pavita Singh

Being an activist is an awesome way to advocate for issues that you’re passionate about. Whether it’s health, the environment, education, politics, or the economy, surely there’s something driving you to do the things you do every day. As the inheritors of the planet, it is up to you to create the world that you want yourself and future generations to live in. One of the best ways to do that is through activism. Activism enhances your sense of personal and social responsibility and makes you a better citizen. It gives you a better understanding of the world around you and your place in it and helps you realize your interconnection with others. Through activism, you recognize that you do have the power to make a difference in the world, and you absolutely should take advantage of that power.

Many colleges and universities encourage activism among the student body. Discussed below are 10 colleges that are well known for an activist culture. If you thrive in an activist environment, keep reading.

 InfoBlog_2_DisabilityColleges_Berkeley-300x200 10 Best Colleges for Activists1. University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: No discussion of college activism is complete without including Berkeley. While most people think about the Vietnam War and the hippie movement when they hear the name Berkeley, the campus’s history of activism dates back to the 1920s, when faculty fought for immigration rights. There are over 100 student-run activist groups on campus covering such issues as free speech, gender equality, racial equality, LGBTQIA equality, disability rights, and sustainability. In 2015, students created the Urban Displacement Project, which fights against gentrification and aims to end high housing prices for low-income residents.

InfoBlog_13_CollegeForActivist_pic3-300x200 10 Best Colleges for Activists2. Pitzer College, Claremont, CA: Pitzer students demonstrate their school spirit not through traditional means such as sports teams, but rather through activism. Students at Pitzer care about issues such as racial and economic inequality, and the college frequently funds research focusing on these issues. In 2015, Pitzer’s keynote commencement speaker was transgender rights activist Janet Mock, and in 2016 it was Black Lives Matter co-creator and social activist Patrisse Cullors. Students are required to take classes in the Social Responsibility and the Ethical Implications of Knowledge and Action and Intercultural Exploration sections.

InfoBlog8_Columbia-1-300x199 10 Best Colleges for Activists3. Columbia University, New York, NY: Columbia alumni include 5 founding fathers, 9 Supreme Court justices, 3 US presidents, and 26 other heads of state from around the world. Students are encouraged to engage in political debates by contributing to The Current and The Columbia Political Review—two of the campus’s renowned journals. In the past, students have participated in protests over a Pentagon weapons think tank, campus expansion, and divestment from South Africa during Apartheid. Columbia attracts many students who go onto careers in political activism.

InfoBlog_13_CollegeForActivist_pic5-300x200 10 Best Colleges for Activists4. American University, Washington, DC: Located in the heart of the nation’s capital, American University is a hub for politically active students. Students pursue jobs and internships at the White House, Congress, and numerous federal agencies. Many AU faculty members have previously worked in politics. Home to the Center for Israel Studies, AU has students who are prominent advocates for peace in the Middle East. The university has an interdisciplinary major called CLEG, which stands for Communications, Legal Studies, Economics, and Government.

InfoBlog_13_CollegeForActivist_pic7-300x200 10 Best Colleges for Activists5. George Washington University, Washington DC: Another school in the nation’s capital, GW has become one of the most politically active universities in the country. Notable alumni include Senator Harry Reid, former Congressman Eric Cantor, former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, former CIA director Allen Dulles, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Students are actively involved in social and political causes and clubs on campus, including Young Americans for Liberty and the International Affairs Society.

InfoBlog_13_CollegeForActivist_pic8-300x212 10 Best Colleges for Activists6. Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH: Activism is deeply rooted in Oberlin’s history. Founded in 1835, the college was one of the bases for the abolitionist movement. It was also the first college in the US to admit African Americans. Students at Oberlin are so involved with activism that they proposed a grade change system to accommodate for missed class hours. The campus has a strong emphasis on diversity, gender rights, and a number of other social justice issues. There are even social justice-themed dorms where students can live.

InfoBlog_13_CollegeForActivist_pic9-300x200 10 Best Colleges for Activists7. Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA: One of the more conservative activist colleges, CMC attracts students who are passionate about economics and public policy. Many students take part in the Washington Program, which involves a full-time internship in Washington, DC and three classes and meetings with prominent political figures. Claremont McKenna also has a renowned student government called Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College.

InfoBlog_13_CollegeForActivist_pic10-300x200 10 Best Colleges for Activists8. Smith College, Northampton, MA: Smith is an all-girls college that is all about female empowerment. It is dedicated to educating students about women worker’s rights, and the gender wage gap therefore plays an important role in the curriculum. There is even a specialized psychology course on political activism for women. Guest speakers for certain classes have included important female activists like Gloria Steinem, Loretta Ross, and Katsi Cook.

InfoBlog_13_CollegeForActivist_pic11-300x200 10 Best Colleges for Activists9. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY: Vassar was one of the first colleges in America to grant degrees to women, and gender politics has since played an important role in the campus’s history. There are several campus organizations focused on social and political issues, including non-partisan clubs. Some students contribute to the Vassar Chronicle, one of the campus’s political publications. Vassar Greens, another prominent activist organization on campus, is dedicated to promoting sustainability and environmental issues throughout the community.

InfoBlog_13_CollegeForActivist_pic12-300x200 10 Best Colleges for Activists10. Macalester College, St. Paul, MN: Macalester has a diverse student body of American and international students, and students are involved in both global and national politics. The college has a program called Capitol Campus, where Legislative Politics students learn how legislatures work and why legislators do what they do. The campus has a long history of gender politics and a strong track record of supporting LGBT rights. A large percentage of students volunteer in the community and are invested in sustainability and environmental causes.

If any of these colleges or programs sound interesting to you and you’d like to connect with current students or alumni, you’ll want to join Konversai—a global knowledge platform where you can connect with anyone, anywhere, about anything. It is a space where knowledge providers and knowledge seekers come together to have meaningful and authentic conversations that are personalized to both parties. No matter what topics you’re interested in learning or teaching about, you should definitely be talking about them on Konversai. Users are encouraged to be both knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on the platform on as many topics as they wish, and knowledge providers are encouraged to charge for their time. If you don’t need the money, you have the option of providing sessions for free or of donating your earnings to a charity of your choice. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to engage in meaningful and purposeful conversations and build connections that will improve your life and the lives of others. Join Konversai today!


  1. Best Colleges. Top Colleges for Politically Active Students.
  2. Escandon, Gina. (2016). The Most Activist Colleges. Campus Life.
  3. Khan, Mariya. (2017). The Top 10 Colleges for Political Activists. College Magazine.
  4. Mckenna, Brendan. (2015). The 10 most politically active schools. Unigo.


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