Civil society around the world has demonstrated the ability to bring about change without violence. Critical to civil society’s success is preparing communities to undertake safe and strategic nonviolent action (NVA) movements. Previous research on NVA has focused on three broad methodologies: protest and persuasion, noncooperation, and intervention. This Report contributes to the knowledge on NVA by highlighting key strategic functions and outcomes of education and training–a fourth and critical methodology for movements around the world.

Summary

  • The three nonviolent methodologies identified in seminal works are protest and persuasion, noncooperation, and intervention. Somewhat overlooked is a focus on organization or capacity building, which includes education and training.
  • Education and training fulfill a critical strategic function in capacity building by helping build certain key components of successful movements: planning, unity, and discipline.
  • Historical examples from Germany, the Philippines, Serbia, and the United States demonstrate this instrumental role.
  • The education and training methodology and philosophy developed during the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s became a model for the campaigns and movements that followed.
  • The Yellow Revolution in the Philippines to restore democracy in the mid-1980s was built on education that enabled the powerless to strategically address the regime’s power and on training to effectively challenge authority.
  • The nuclear power industry in the United States and Germany was stymied by a determined transnational grassroots movement in the 1970s and 1980s. Critical to its success were strategic planning, nonviolent action, consensus decision making, and legal processes.
  • The Serbian civil protest group Otpor! grew from a handful of students into an eighty thousand–person movement that proved instrumental in overthrowing a dictatorship and helping establish a democracy. Training was key.
  • Although policy-relevant research on civil resistance is expanding as the number of popular movements increases, the strategic value of education and training in such movements remains relatively understudied.
  • Four historical examples of successful nonviolent movements suggest five general and actionable strategic functions of education and training.

About the Brief

This report highlights key strategic functions and outcomes of education and training in nonviolent civil resistance movements around the world. Funded by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), it draws on findings from research, trainer and participant interviews, and the author’s experience with nonviolent civil movements.

About the Author

Nadine Bloch is training director for Beautiful Trouble, an organization that advances creative activism. Her work focuses on nonviolence education and civil resistance. The author thanks Maria Stephan and Amun Nadeem at USIP for support of this project.

Related Publications

Philippines: Seizing the Opportunity Offered by the Bangsamoro Transition Extension

Philippines: Seizing the Opportunity Offered by the Bangsamoro Transition Extension

Friday, August 5, 2022

By: Mary Ann M. Arnado

On October 28, 2021, Rodrigo Duterte, then president of the Philippines, signed into law a three-year extension of the transition period of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The region’s first parliamentary elections are now scheduled for May 2025, alongside the national elections. In 2021, the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) actively campaigned for the extension of the transition period to provide more time for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and the Philippine government to fully implement and deliver the commitments they made in the 2014 peace agreement between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The agreement grants greater political autonomy to the southern Mindanao region.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

The Philippines’ Bangsamoro Transition Authority’s Expectation Management Challenge

The Philippines’ Bangsamoro Transition Authority’s Expectation Management Challenge

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

By: Ameen Andrew Alonto

A crucial component of the success of any peace process is winning the support of local populations. This was particularly important in the southern Philippines where the progression of recent peace efforts depended on the result of the 2019 plebiscite. After decades of war and endemic poverty, expectations are high for what the peace dividend will deliver in socioeconomic, education, security, infrastructure and political reforms. The Bangsamoro Transition Authority’s (BTA’s) expectation management challenge may prove decisive in maintaining popular commitment to the peace process. The Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO) has a central role to play in these efforts.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Examining the Military’s Soft Power Challenge in the Southern Philippines

Examining the Military’s Soft Power Challenge in the Southern Philippines

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

By: Joseph Franco

This is a moment of both real and potential transition for the AFP, as the prospect of sustainable peace in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and at least wearying of non-state threats could enable a transition in force posture from a focus on internal security operations to broader regional defense.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Civilian-Military RelationsPeace Processes

Examining Women’s Critical Role in Peacebuilding in the Southern Philippines

Examining Women’s Critical Role in Peacebuilding in the Southern Philippines

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

By: Aliah Baniaga Adam

Peace is the new battle cry for the island of Mindanao. Situated in the southern Philippines, the region is among the poorest in the nation despite natural resources and promising agrarian assets. Mindanao is also prone to calamities, from clashes between the military and armed groups and violent clan feuds to seasonal natural disasters, that regularly displace entire communities. These unrelenting disruptions to our social, political and economic lives have impacted generations. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace ProcessesGender

View All Publications