Music in Social Justice Movements Class Offered

Why is music such a powerful tool for protest and social justice?  How has it played a role in nonviolent resistance movements? Drawing on theories from the fields of nonviolent conflict, music therapy, and social change, this new class will delve into inspirational cases from around the world, yesterday and today. It is being offered free of charge to the community by Hancock Church, and will take place over three successive sessions in March.

Taught by Dr. Elke Jahns-Harms, the class will look at how music shaped the civil rights movements in the US and South Africa, and helped overcome brutal dictatorships in Tunisia, Chile, and Estonia. Participants will listen to songs from today’s struggles around climate change and social justice, and may sing a song or two themselves! Each session will include presentations, discussions, music videos and excerpts from powerful documentaries. “We encourage anyone from any faith tradition to join us for this,” says Hancock Director Music, Mark Morgan, “the classes are non-denominational and intended to foster dialogue across religious or sectarian divides. It is a timely discussion about the lessons we can learn from our own history and from peoples around the world about how we can use music to be a change agent.”

Elke Jahns-Harms teaches Music and Social Change at the New England Conservatory and Development Aid in Policy and Practice at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, as well as a number of courses at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Tufts. Elke has worked in Central and South America, East Africa, and Antarctica, on projects related to poverty alleviation, environmental protection, HIV/AIDS, gender equality, and music education.  She performs professionally on classical and Native American flutes and sings in a number of choruses. She has found music to be a crucial means of connecting with people wherever she goes, and her flutes are among the first things she packs on her travels. She has organized and performed in benefit concerts here and abroad, worked and volunteered as a musical activity leader for children and adults with disabilities, and leads monthly sing-alongs at a local nursing home.  While taking courses in music therapy and music education, she undertook one of the most challenging and fulfilling projects of her life: teaching music to a young deaf boy.  Her courses in Music for Social Change bring together her life-long interests in music, poverty alleviation, social justice, and peacebuilding. Elke holds a PhD in International Development from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, a Master’s in Music, a Master of Public Affairs, and a B.A. in Geology and Environmental Science.

Music is Social Justice Movements will be taught on Sundays, March 4, 11, and 18th from 11:15 to noon in the Kathie Stuart Room of Hancock Church, 1912 Massachusetts Ave in Lexington. It is free of charge, open to all, and the church is handicap accessible. For further information, please visit or call 781-862-4220.