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21 — 25 April 2021 | Leuven. Belgium
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    Can activists provoke better innovation?

    Can activists provoke better innovation?

    social innovation activism

    At and&, we are building an interdisciplinary space where bright minds bow their heads over 21 questions for the 21st century.

    At first sight, innovation and activism seem two pretty unrelated things. When we think of innovation, our minds naturally drift towards technological advancements, new inventions, and revolutionary products; not quite synonymous with activism.  

    But innovation can also be found in philosophies, modes of thought, and perceptions. It can change the way we think, and influence the way we do things. This is what activism does. Every second the world takes on a new meaning, and activists stand at the forefront to shape it for the better. It might not be as tangible or as direct, and it isn’t always applauded or recognised, but over time it can change the very fabric of the society we live in. 

    Yes, innovation can be a new iPhone, intelligent robots, or virtual reality games. But it can also mean building a more prosperous society, creating a more inclusive future, and downright making the world a better place. The next speakers are trying to do just that.


    “Activists have not been passive. For decades, we have tried every tactic to shift the course of our governments. A new approach to activism and a new kind of protest are desperately needed.”

    - Thando Hopa

    Alicia Garza is a civil rights activist and writer known for co-founding the international Black Lives Matter movement. She launched a global movement with a single Facebook post that ended with the words: “Black lives matter”, a phrase we’ve all become very familiar with. Garza believes that Black communities deserve what all communities deserve — to be powerful in every aspect of their lives.

    Micah White is a lifelong activist who co-created Occupy Wall Street, a global social movement that spread to 82 countries and 1,000 cities, and who popularised the term clicktivism. He is no stranger to innovation. With his book The End of Protest, he argues that established modes of protest are outdated and sketches the outlines for how activists can and must innovate. His book is a love letter to activists of the future. “Activism means always pushing the boundaries of activism. 

    Thando Hopa, born in South Africa, spent four years as a prosecutor specialising in sexual abuse charges. After being scouted by a modelling agency, she was featured in the 2018 Pirelli calendar, becoming the first South African woman of colour to achieve this. In 2019, she made history as the first person with albinism to appear on the cover of Vogue. Hopa strives to portray albinism positively.She was recognized with the BBC 100 Women Award for her diversity and inclusion advocacy. In 2020, she also became a fellow at the World Economic Forum.