Pop Culture Meets Advocacy

Created: March 2017

Last Updated: April 2020

This learning experience is part of a playlist — two or more learning experiences focused on specific areas of the digital world. You can find this playlist, Creating the Change You Want, here. This particular learning experience is the fifth in a sequence of six. Learning experiences in a playlist build off of each other, but they were designed so that they can also be completed on their own! 

Estimated time:

30 minutes 

  • [10 minutes] Activity 

  • [20 minutes] Challenge

Group or individual activity:Individual
Ages:13-18 years old
Grades: Grades 8-12
Online / offline elements:  This learning experience contains an offline activity and challenge.

Main area: Civic and Political Engagement

Additional areas: Content Production, Digital (Literacy), Information Quality, Media (Literacy), Positive / Respectful Behavior

License:  This learning experience has been created by Youth and Media and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution­ShareAlike 4.0 International license. For more information, please visit http://dcrp.berkman.harvard.edu/about

Learning Goal

Examine how popular culture characters and stories can and have been used to foster awareness and advocacy around different causes. Identify one popular culture character and story that can be used to promote awareness around a cause that is important to you.


  • [Optional] Computer or mobile device with Internet access

  • [Optional] Paper

  • [Optional] Pen or pencil



Drawing upon images, lessons, or examples of characters in your favorite books, movies, and TV shows can be an excellent way to raise awareness about a cause. Often, the experiences of fictional characters can influence people in their thinking about real-world issues.

For example, Harry Pottetr’s attitude toward house-elves might make you more concerned about child slavery or poor working conditions in the manufacturing industry. [Feel free to view the video to  Harry Potter Fans Win Against Child Slavery by The Harry Potter Alliance learn more.] After James Cameron’s Avatar was released, interest in environmental protection causes increased.Admirable characters have the potential to affect wider behavioral changes, making them perfect for use in advocacy campaigns. 

In the “Taking Action for Change!” learning experience, you can learn how to outline a complete advocacy campaign!


In a paragraph, reflect on: What pop culture characters and story world would YOU use to raise awareness for your cause? What movie, musical composition, or fictional world would you base your advocacy efforts on? Describe how you might make a piece of media (e.g., song, cartoon, poster, etc.) on your favorite form of pop culture to raise awareness about your chosen issue. Also reflect on ways you might share this work online and reach a large audience. You can also post your idea (and your creation itself, if you decide to make one!) on social media if you’d like! 

Next Steps 

Congratulations on finishing this challenge! We are positive that others would love to see what you learned! If possible, please share your write-up (and creation, if you chose to create one) with an educator, mentor, or advisor, or a family member or friend. You are also welcome to share your write-up with the Youth and Media team via email (youthandmedia@cyber.law.harvard.edu). Please designate the title of the learning experience in the subject line of the email.


Individual vs. Group 
Release Date 
April, 2020