Course

Nonviolent Conflict – an overview

In a world that is becoming more violent every year, is there anything more important than finding ways of conflict that are less destructive yet still allow us to stand for our most heart-felt values, and win, without destroying our cultures, national infrastructures, or global environment? This course will help you understand the history of non-violent conflict, the theories supporting its use and how they can be applied in various contexts around the world.

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Course Description

In a world that is becoming more violent every year, is there anything more important than finding ways of conflict that are less destructive yet still allow us to stand for our most heart-felt values? Can we win without destroying our cultures, national infrastructures or the global environment? At a time when increasing conflicts define our world (climate change, mass migration, limited supply of potable water, growing income disparities and more), we are at risk of jeopardizing the sustainability of our planet. 

This course is designed to give the student a through understanding of the idea of nonviolent conflict; this includes its history, the theories supporting its use, the debates taking place between activists and scholars, the actual dynamics that make nonviolent action effective, and an overview of how it is being used in various contexts around the world today.  

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Outline the primary people and documents that provide the theoretical and historical context for using nonviolent conflict, critique the soundness of arguments against using nonviolent methods, counter the ways people and groups misrepresent civil resistance, and correct the many misconceptions  people hold about using nonviolent action.
  • Debate Sharp’s theory of social power, evaluate the critiques against it, and state their own informed opinion as to its use now and into the future.
  • Differentiate, analyze, and explain the current debates between activists and scholars of nonviolent conflict, integrate that knowledge with the theories and dynamics framing nonviolent action, and evaluate the effectiveness of current and past efforts.
  • Explain the primary categories of Sharp’s 198 tactics of civil resistance, critique the dynamic known as “backfire,” and differentiate between it, Gregg’s idea of moral jiu-jitsu, and Sharp’s concept of political jiu-jitsu.
  • Integrate the theories and dynamics of nonviolent conflict with knowledge of how 21st century media and technology affect a campaign’s strategy, and evaluate the  effectiveness and potential of their use on current and future nonviolent efforts

Your Instructor – Dr. Robert Allen Kezer

Dr. Robert Allen Kezer holds bachelors’ degrees in religious studies and international studies from the University of Oregon, a master’s degree in integral theory from John F. Kennedy University in San Francisco, a PhD in transformative studies with a concentration in integral theory from the California Institute of Integral Studies also in San Francisco, and a CELTA certificate from Cambridge University for teaching English as a second language. Dr. Kezer is the author of the novel The Boétie Legacy and a World in Peril, and the lay-person’s guides to nonviolent conflict: People Power, Civil Resistance, and Social Transformation: An Introduction to Nonviolent Conflict , both in text and as a video course.