This micro-course explores the history and dynamics of nonviolent movements. It presents the categories of specific methods of nonviolent action and some of the key theories that inform civil resistance strategies and campaigns.

Liberian women rally against their country’s civil war, a campaign documented by the film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” (Pewee Flomoku)
Liberian women rally against their country’s civil war, a campaign documented by the film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” (Pewee Flomoku)

Course Overview

By the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the importance of nonviolent action;
  • Define nonviolent civil resistance and how is it distinct from other forms of social and political action; and
  • Identify the principles and theories of power inform the practice of nonviolent action.

Agenda

Section 1 - Introduction to Nonviolent Action

Meet the course presenters and get a broad overview of what nonviolent action is and why it is important.

Section 2 - Definitions and Historical Context

Explains what nonviolent civil resistance is and how it differs from other forms of social and political action.

Section 3 - Stories from the Field

Examines how different campaigns and movements have waged nonviolent action and what accounts for their achievements and challenges.

Section 4 - Theory and Practice

Examines how power informs how nonviolent action is utilized and identifies principles and steps that should be kept in mind when practicing nonviolent action methods.

Section 5 - Quiz

Assesses your understanding and retention of key terms, concepts, and ideas presented in this course.

Section 6 - Scenario

Allows you to apply the knowledge you've gained throughout the course to a fictional conflict scenario.

Section 7 - Reflections

Allows you to share what you have learned and read what others have learned from this course and how these skills and knowledge will impact the work we do.

Featured Scenario: Protests in Quisada

The students declared a non-violent movement, and began by protesting in front of government buildings and a month later also started staging sit-ins in the midst of critical city intersections. This nonviolent movement is in danger of fading away without achieving its goals. Utilizing the knowledge gained throughout this course, you will determine how to best address this situation. In this course we present a scenario in which you can apply the theories and concepts covered in this course to a fictional situation. A scenario is comprised of situation examples and you are asked to determine the best solution to each situation.

Instructors and Guest Experts

Instructors

  • Maria Stephan, Director, United States Institute of Peace
  • Daryn Cambridge, Professional Development Portfolio Manager (EPIC), Training Resources Group, Inc.
  • Althea Middleton-Detzner, Director, PeaceTech Labs

Guest Experts

  • John Lewis, U.S. Congressman, Georgia
  • Erica Chenoweth, Associate Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver

Related Publications

Afghan Talks Are Historic Chance for Peace, Says Top U.S. Negotiator

Afghan Talks Are Historic Chance for Peace, Says Top U.S. Negotiator

Thursday, September 24, 2020

By: Adam Gallagher

Afghan peace talks that began in Doha on September 12 are a “historic opportunity” that could bring a close to four decades of conflict in the country and end America’s longest war, said the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation on Thursday. The ongoing talks are the “heart of the Afghan peace process,” said Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. “It's important to be fully aware of the significance of this moment, and to recognize its historic relevance.” With a note of a cautious optimism, he said there is hope but still a long road ahead, with many thorny issues to be negotiated.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

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Scott Worden on Afghan Peace Talks

Scott Worden on Afghan Peace Talks

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

By: Scott Worden

With talks finally underway between the Taliban and Afghan government, USIP’s Scott Worden says initial expectations should be tempered, as the chances for success are “low in the short term, but much higher than if the talks hadn’t begun,” adding, “you can’t end a war without starting a peace process.”

Type: Podcast

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The Collapsing Foundation for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

The Collapsing Foundation for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Monday, September 14, 2020

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

The diplomatic agreements being signed this week among the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel present formidable challenges to the long-standing paradigm for peacemaking in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are yet to provide a viable substitute. While final contours of the agreements remain to unfold, their approach undermines the paradigm of providing an incentive for Israel to accept Palestinian self-determination as part of normalized relations with its Arab neighbors. With the Israeli-Palestinian divide wider now than any time since 1967, the erosion of these cornerstones for peacemaking is a precursor for an eventual new crisis.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

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