The spectrum line is an activity used for training and education to learn how people feel about a specific issue and why, and to stimulate dialogue and exchange of opinions. Establishing a spectrum line is useful to avoid black-and-white thinking, to create a link between opposite views and to encourage participants to formulate their own idea and decide where they stand on a given topic.
In this activity, participants are asked to imagine a spectrum line between two opposite statements on a topic. They are asked to physically place themselves in this line (which can be either straight or U-shaped, the latter option allowing everybody to see each other and so to better discuss their ideas), according to how they feel and what they think on the subject.
The statements should be chosen avoiding yes/no questions and allowing for different opinions without there being an obvious right or wrong place to stand.
After everybody has placed him/herself along the line, an external facilitator starts asking the participants why they chose a particular spot, thus stimulating a debate. Ideally participants should also interact and challenge each other’s ideas. It can be interesting also to let them swap places, if someone convinces them to do so, explaining why.
How to implement it
In a workshop on campaigning for climate change, this activity can be used to reflect on the most effective way to influence decision-making: either through advocacy or rebellion. The difference between the two opposites is that advocacy implies acting within the system to change it, while rebellion totally rejects it.
It is likely that the majority of participants will place themselves around the middle of the spectrum line, either because they think that both kinds of action are crucial in a successful campaign, or because they believe that different campaigns have to be led with different means. However, others would place themselves near one end of the line. It is interesting to understand whether such decisions are inspired by previous campaigning experiences and the feedback obtained by decision makers on those occasions, or by the individual character of the participants. It can be useful also to investigate how different persons conceive advocacy and rebellion, which comprise a huge variety of actions.
A discussion on the different possible approaches to a campaign and its implementation, and on the expected outcomes related to each approach, can then be stimulated.
Session “Building an international climate justice campaigns’ strategy”
Thor Markussen – Friends of the Earth Europe
Climate Justice – Download