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

Afghanistan Withdrawal Should Be Based on Conditions, Not Timelines

Afghanistan Withdrawal Should Be Based on Conditions, Not Timelines

Thursday, November 19, 2020

By: Scott Worden

The Taliban’s tactic of running out the clock on the U.S. troop presence may bear fruit after the announcement on Tuesday that U.S. forces will reduce to 2,500 by January 15. The Trump administration successfully created leverage by engaging directly with the Taliban to meet their paramount goal of a U.S. withdrawal in exchange for genuine peace talks and counterterrorism guarantees. This strategy brought about unprecedented negotiations between Afghan government representatives and the Taliban in Doha. A walk down a conditions-based path to peace, long and winding as it may be, had begun.

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Libya: Peace Talks Advance, But Will Need Local Support

Libya: Peace Talks Advance, But Will Need Local Support

Thursday, November 19, 2020

By: Nate Wilson

Libyans have taken an uncertain step toward ending nearly a decade of civil war, agreeing in U.N.-mediated talks to hold national elections in December 2021. The discussions, in the neighboring capital, Tunis, fell short of yielding a transitional government to oversee the elections and the establishment of a new constitution. The talks are shortly to resume. From Tunis, USIP’s Nate Wilson notes that the step is positive for a country that began 2020 with a surge in warfare and the involvement of foreign forces. Making this peace effort effective will require restraining that foreign involvement, he says, and will need to ground the talks in grassroots support.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

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Amid Iraq’s Turmoil, Tal Afar Builds Peace

Amid Iraq’s Turmoil, Tal Afar Builds Peace

Thursday, November 5, 2020

By: USIP Staff

In a year of Iraqi turmoil, including protests that ousted a government and rivalry between Iran and Turkey, Iraqi tribal and community leaders are strengthening a new peace agreement in a locale that has seen some of the worst brutality of recent years—the northern city of Tal Afar. Civic, tribal and government leaders recently agreed to a pact that can open a path for more than 60,000 displaced residents to return home and rebuild following the war with ISIS. The accord also will help curb ISIS’ effort to revive. And in a startling change, it was negotiated in part by women.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

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Afghan Peace Process Tests Women Activists

Afghan Peace Process Tests Women Activists

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

By: Belquis Ahmadi; Matthew Parkes

More than a month after Afghan peace talks formally began, the effort to end the war in Afghanistan is stalled, and no one faces higher stakes than Afghan women. The attempt at negotiations has snagged on preliminary issues, the Taliban have escalated their attacks, and all sides are watching the evolution of the U.S. military role in the country. Afghan women’s rights advocates say the moment, and the need for international support, is critical. U.S. officials have noted how U.S assistance can be vital in supporting women’s rights, a principle that can be advanced at a global donors’ conference next month.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

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