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

Women Help Nonviolent Campaigns Succeed, But Nonviolent Discipline Remains Crucial

Women Help Nonviolent Campaigns Succeed, But Nonviolent Discipline Remains Crucial

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

By: Matthew D. Cebul, Ph.D.

In recent weeks, the world has watched in awe as Iranian women rise in peaceful protest against their country’s violent and patriarchal theocracy. Their courage is at once extraordinary and familiar, paralleling other inspiring episodes of women-led nonviolent activism. Indeed, women have played central roles in many of the world’s most impressive nonviolent campaigns.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderNonviolent Action

Iran’s Protests ... and the Afghan Sisters Next Door

Iran’s Protests ... and the Afghan Sisters Next Door

Thursday, October 13, 2022

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  Palwasha L. Kakar

Iran’s women are seizing worldwide admiration with 26 days of courageous defiance against their authoritarian government’s violent confinement of females as second-class citizens who may not freely work, marry, divorce, travel or even be seen with their heads uncovered. Less noted are this audacious movement’s existing, and potential, connections to the tenacious, 14-month campaign by Afghan women resisting the even tighter oppression of the Taliban. Street protest slogans, social media posts and other links illustrate a synergy between the movements that both should use in the difficult task of converting their inspiring courage into real change.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderNonviolent Action

42 Months on, How Does Sudan’s Democracy Movement Endure?

42 Months on, How Does Sudan’s Democracy Movement Endure?

Thursday, October 6, 2022

By: Jawhratelkmal Kanu;  Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.

Three and a half years after Sudan’s military deposed the authoritarian ruler, Omar Bashir, in response to massive protests, the current military leadership and divisions among political factions are stalling a return to elected civilian government. This year has brought a deepening economic crisis and violent communal clashes — but also a new wave of nonviolent, grassroots campaigns for a return to democracy. As Sudanese democracy advocates and their international allies seek ways to press the military for that transition, all sides should note, and work to sustain, Sudan’s nonviolent civic action.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceNonviolent Action

Behavioral Science and Social Contact Peacemaking

Behavioral Science and Social Contact Peacemaking

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

By: Josh Martin;  Meghann Perez;  Ruben Grangaard

Although social contact theory — the idea that encountering someone with a different group identity can lead to greater understanding, empathy, and trust — has become a bedrock of most peacebuilding initiatives in recent decades, doubts remain about whether such initiatives prevent violence. This report provides practical insights and recommendations for improving peacebuilding efforts by more effectively factoring an understanding of human behavior into the design, implementation, and evaluation of social contact interventions.

Type: Peaceworks

Nonviolent Action

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