Study Circles for Social Change

Study Circles for Social Change

Study circles enable small groups to learn together about how to advance their interests using a democratic, interactive and participatory method of education. Study circles of grassroots leaders in trade unions and community organisations are essential for building vibrant organisations with an active membership.

2021 update

New online study circles are planned for 2021. These will primarily focus on ILO Convention 190 – Violence and Harassment in the Workplace, Migrant Workers, and Climate Change. If you would like to start a study group, or need assistance in running a study circle, contact Saliem Patel (IFWEA Programme Manager) on

2020 feedback

  • Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, planned 2020 study circles with eight IFWEA affiliates from Asia (CLASS Nepal, IDEA, FSPMI, ISD and LEARN); Africa (ZCIEA); and Latin America (INAESIN, PLADES and CENAC) on ILO Convention 190 – Violence and Harassment in the Workplace, were  adapted to become online study groups. Watch study circle members talk about their experiences here
  • The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) contacted IFWEA affiliate  Labour Research Service (LRS) for support in formulating a discussion paper with their gender teams, as a means to raise gender issues in collective bargaining. LRS, with the support of IFWEA, coordinated a series of online study circles, discussion groups and focus groups between April and October 2020. Watch how this worked

What topics do study circles cover?

Study circles cover a range of topics that can include training for shop stewards, training for women in leadership, organising migrant workers, IT skills, how to moderate online workshops, and more.

How does IFWEA support study circles?

IFWEA supports affiliates to develop a study circle programme through training and mentoring study circle facilitators to build confidence, encourage critical thinking and promote active participation.

IFWEA offers a Facilitating Study Circles course on OLA. You can click here to access the course.

IFWEA also supports online interaction between study circle facilitators in different countries to share experiences on curricula, materials and pedagogy of study circles and build a global knowledge community.

How can I get involved?

You can promote study circles in your organisation through running the various courses available on OLA. You can also contact the IFWEA secretariat for support at


To find out more, please contact Saliem Patel (Programme Manager) at or Renaldi Prinsloo (IFWEA Education Online Curriculum Developer) at