Seminar on Nonviolent Struggle
Description of the Seminar:
This course is divided into 20 lessons, following CANVAS Core Curriculum: A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle.
The Basic Course is comprised of 15 lessons that are completed over two months, approximately 2 lessons per week. To participate in this seminar, students need to be committed to attend every class and finish all the reading before each class. They should also fully participate in all class exercises and complete all homework assigned. There will be three tests, one at the end of each section.
The Advanced Course is comprised of the remaining 5 lessons. Four lessons will be covered in the remaining 2 weeks of the course as independent studies, with each section being assigned to a student team and then peer taught to the class. Each of these lessons includes related work that will be prepared and presented to the class. Students will be evaluated on the quality of their work and presentations.
The seminar will finish with each student teaching a lesson from the Basic Course, once in English and once in Burmese.
The content covers three aspects of strategic nonviolent conflict:
- Theory and its applications:
The goal of these lessons is to provide a concrete framework for people to understand how nonviolent action works. First, all movements start with the desire for change, so we offer a methodology to help groups develop their vision for what they want to achieve (Lesson 1). We then address how nonviolent movements can gain the power to achieve that vision. By emphasizing that political power comes from people's ongoing consent and obedience to their society's political, economic, and social systems, it be- comes clear that nonviolent movements can gain power and create change by shifting people's consent and obedience pat- terns (Lesson 2). In order to do this, nonviolent resisters must understand the roles that key organizations and institutions (which we call "pillars of support") play in their society (Lesson 3), what people's motivations are for consent and obedience (Lesson 4), how nonviolent movements produce change in society (Lesson 5), and the tactics and methods that nonviolent movements have at their disposal (Lesson 6).
- Planning considerations:
There is rarely victory for nonviolent movements without a strategic plan. Therefore, an understanding of basic strategic principles (Lesson 7) as well as tools and techniques to analyze their past and current situation (Lesson 8 and Lesson A1) is important as movements develop their strategic plans. An essential part of those plans will be communications. How do movements effectively communicate what they stand for? Developing effective messages and analyzing audience segments (Lesson 9) and understanding the tools and types of targeted communications (Lesson 10) are essential. Targeted communication is one of the most important parts of any movement's strategic plan.
- Organizational and operational considerations:
Nonviolent movements are faced every day with stresses in the areas of leadership (Lesson 11), fear-management (Lesson 13), and avoiding contamination (Lesson 14), so they need to be prepared. They also need to be tactically innovative and choose issues and actions that put their opponents in dilemmas (Lesson 15). Finally, management of key resources (material resources, human resources, time, and knowledge) are critical to operating a nonviolent movement or campaign. The advanced campaign management package (Lessons A2, A3, A4, and A5) addresses these issues.
|The CANVAS Core Curriculum provides a wealth of information on a broad range of topics relevant to waging nonviolent conflict. It combines theoretical insights about nonviolent struggle with practical knowledge that is based on the authors' and activists' real world experience.
The presentation is organized in a workshop format, and each chapter serves as a lesson plan. These lesson plans were created, tested and refined by the authors through their experience leading workshops. The curriculum contains helpful graphics, tips, and important notes to make sure that valuable information is retained. Many of the lessons also contain practical exercises, which are designed so that activists can create "products" that will be directly useful in their struggles.
CANVAS Core Curriculum: A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle
CLICK TO VIEW TRAILER
|Bringing Down A Dictator documents the spectacular defeat of Slobodan Milosevic by an ingenious nonviolent strategy spearheaded by a student group named Otpor! ("Resistance" in Serbian). These students became the shock troops in an army of of human rights, pro-democracy, anti-war, women's groups, and opposition political parties. Their weapons were rock concerts and ridicule, the internet and email, spray-painted slogans and a willingness to be arrested.
Trained in nonviolent action, they forged a unified political opposition, fought to stop vote fraud, and systematically undermined police and army loyalty. When Milosevic refused to accept defeat at the polls, the opposition called a general strike. As normal life ground to a halt, Serbs by the hundreds of thousands poured into the capital to seize the Federal Parliament in a dramatic triumph for democracy.
This documentary will be viewed in class.
|People Power is a simulation game about politics, strategy and social change. As a leader of a popular movement you fight against tough adversaries who control the police, the army and bureaucracy, even the media. The only weapon in your hand is your strategic skill and ingenuity.
Students will also have an opportunity to join People Power Forum, a community of others who want to learn about civil resistance and nonviolent strategies, and design game scenarios to share and discuss with the whole community.
|People Power: The Game of Civil Resistance was generously provided to support Brilliant Burma's program by YORK ZIMMERMAN Inc in association with the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict|
- Articles & Books
- More Resources
Link to Original Article
|"Training Pro-Democracy Movements: A Conversation with Colonel Robert Helvey" by Metta Spencer (Interviewer), Peace Magazine, Jan-Mar 2008, page 12.|
|Jane's Intelligence Review: Generation of '88, Kyaw Kyaw, NCUB director
Fri 8 Oct 2010
|Burma's Uprising: People Power, Not Political Puppetry
November 1, 2007
|"Burma's rudderless opposition" by Moegyo, Himal Magazine, February 2011.|
|On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict delves into the question of how to build a strategy for nonviolent struggle. Covering a variety of topics—such as ways to identify a movement's objectives, preparing a strategic estimate for a nonviolent struggle, and operational planning considerations—this publication contains insights on the similarities between military and nonviolent strategy. It represents a major new contribution to this field of study. Additional topics covered in the book include psychological operations and propaganda, contaminants that may affect the efficiency of a nonviolent movement, and providing consultations and training for members of movements and organizations. 159 pp. 2007 (Burmese translation)
Download PDF (1.2 MB) English - Burmese
|Dictatorship to Democracy was originally published in 1993 in Thailand for distribution among Burmese dissidents and serialized in ten chapters in the English language section of Khit Pyaing (New Era), a Burmese language newspaper, February - November, 1994. It has since spread to several parts of the world and serves as a serious introduction to the use of nonviolent action to topple dictatorships.
Download PDF (4.1M) English - Burmese - Chin (Burma) - Jing-paw (Burma) - Karen (Burma) - Mon (Burma)
Listen to audiobook read by David H. Erdody English - 275 minutes
|The Role of Power in Nonviolent Struggle is abstraced from Sharp's classic three-volume work, The Politics of Nonviolent Action and summarizes the core concepts behind the technique of nonviolent struggle. As Sharp writes, "Nonviolent action . . . is capable of wielding great power even against ruthless rulers and military regimes because it attacks the most vulnerable characteristic of all hierarchical institutions and governments: dependence on the governed." 23 pp. 1989
Download PDF (709k) English - Burmese
|Which Way to Freedom 86 pp.
Download PDF (2.1M) Burmese
|Campaigning for Freedom of Expression: A Handbook for Advocates
Download PDF (2.2M) English
|Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents
Download PDF (1.8M) English
Albert Einstein Institution - Advancing Freedom Through Nonviolent Action
CANVAS Nonviolent Multimedia Library
Democracy Research Guide
International Center on Nonviolent Conflict Resources
IRI - International Republican Institute
NDI - National Democratic Institute For International Affairs
United States Institute of Peace
TEDxKrakow - Srdja Popovic - How to Topple a Dictator
Five tips from Serbian group CANVAS
- Do your homework – analyse the pillars of support you want to pull on your side ("pillars" refer to institutions and organisations that are crucial for non-violent social change)
- Come out with a clear vision and your strategy for your struggle – and don't listen to foreign advice
- Build unity within a movement – unity of purpose, unity of people and unity within the organisation
- Maintain non-violent discipline – one single act of violence can destroy the credibility of your struggle
- Keep on the offensive, pick the battles you can win and make sure you know when and how to proclaim each victory