Social Movement Learning and Human Resource Development: An Agenda for a Radical Future

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The Problem: Research concerning how social movements change power relations, policies, and structures in organizations remains unexplored within human resource development (HRD) literature. The Solution: The purpose of this article is to explore the intersections of HRD and social movement learning (SML) by acknowledging how social movements invite organizations to recognize and learn about social interests and social injustice. A review of concepts concerning collective learning, power and politics, and spatial theory guided the assumptions and claims outlined throughout the article. Three leading suggestions emerged for future consideration: (a) social movements are self-directed and require support, and not direction; (b) HRD is equipped to provide a more holistic understanding of learning and development within and outside the workplace; and (c) organizations that support social movements should demonstrate a genuine interest in their social cause, and not use it merely as an opportunity to build social capital for the organization. The Stakeholders: The value of social movement learning (SML) is discussed to draw attention to HRD scholars and practitioners, social activists, and employers who aspire to uplift individuals who are excluded and marginalized in society. Prospects to expand the application and scope of HRD are also discussed to reach a broader audience and appreciate the development and learning within social justice initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-192
Number of pages18
JournalAdvances in Developing Human Resources
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • HRD
  • collective learning
  • power and politics
  • social movement learning


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