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.
  • Elaborate on how and why nonviolent action is such an effective approach in bringing about political, economic, and social change.
  • Define nonviolent civil resistance and how is it distinct from other forms of social and political action.
  • Identify the principles and theories of power to inform the practice of nonviolent action.
  • Connect the theories and principles of nonviolent action to its practical application.

Agenda

Section 1 - Introduction

Introduces the importance of nonviolent action through real-world stories and asks the learner to reflect on their prior knowledge.

 

Section 2 - Pillars

Defines nonviolent action as well as its basic historical foundations and principles.

Section 3 - Tools

Introduces the primary tools and methods of nonviolent action.

Section 4 - Application

Explores how the tools discussed in the previous chapter are applied in real-life nonviolent action campaigns. Learners will then get the opportunity to complete a scenario that allows them to assess a nonviolent action campaign.

Section 5 - Conclusion

Provides a space for self-reflection and tests retention while earning a certificate.

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

Guest Experts

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

Related Publications

Curbing Corruption after Conflict: Anticorruption Mobilization in Guatemala (Spanish)

Curbing Corruption after Conflict: Anticorruption Mobilization in Guatemala (Spanish)

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

By: Walter Flores; Miranda Rivers

Este informe analiza la lucha contra la corrupción en Guatemala llevada a cabo por movimientos sociales en los últimos cinco años, y se hace foco en sus principales éxitos y desafíos al trabajar para avanzar la transparencia, la responsabilidad y la buena gobernanza. Las lecciones aprendidas de los esfuerzos de los movimientos sociales para lograr un cambio positivo en Guatemala pueden aplicarse a otros movimientos del mundo que se encuentran en contextos similares. Las lecciones también tienen mayor relevancia para los actores internacionales que ayudan a los estados a reconstruir la paz y la gobernanza democrática luego de un conflicto violento prolongado.

Type: Special Report

Nonviolent Action

Four Takeaways on the Intersection of Nonviolent Action and Peace Processes

Four Takeaways on the Intersection of Nonviolent Action and Peace Processes

Thursday, May 13, 2021

By: Jonathan Pinckney; Miranda Rivers; Tabatha Thompson; Adam Gallagher

How can nonviolent action and peacebuilding work together? And how can they be brought together to promote positive long-term political change? Although mass nonviolent action movements are taking place at an increasingly rapid rate, they are succeeding in achieving their goals less frequently, and where initially peaceful demonstrations have been met by state violence from Myanmar to Colombia, better understanding these questions is crucial.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Nonviolent Action; Peace Processes

Can Civil Resistance Breakthroughs Advance Democracy?

Can Civil Resistance Breakthroughs Advance Democracy?

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

By: Jonathan Pinckney

We are in one of the largest waves of nonviolent resistance in history. Even the COVID-19 pandemic could not stop massive uprisings in Thailand, Belarus, Myanmar and elsewhere as ordinary citizens use nonviolent tactics to challenge entrenched authoritarians and demand reform. Yet, even as more and more people have hit the streets to push for change, the Varieties of Democracy project reports that global democracy has never been weaker and the long trend of growing autocracy has only accelerated. What can be done to turn this around?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Nonviolent Action

Myanmar in the Streets: A Nonviolent Movement Shows Staying Power

Myanmar in the Streets: A Nonviolent Movement Shows Staying Power

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

By: Zarchi Oo; Billy Ford; Jonathan Pinckney

The people of Myanmar have opposed military rule in the past but never like this: In the face of horrific brutality by a lawless regime, Burmese have risen up in an historic national movement of nonviolent resistance. Led by young women, the fractious country has united across ethnic, generational and class lines, weaponizing social norms and social media in a refusal to accept the generals’ February 1 seizure of power.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Nonviolent Action

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