International relations, Political science, Sociology


Organized by and in partnership with the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), Washington DC, USA

Course date

9 July - 13 July, 2012
15 February, 2012
The application deadline expired. Late applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Course Director(s): 

Maciej Bartkowski

International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), Washington DC, USA
Course Faculty: 

Matteo Fumagalli

Department of International Relations and European Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Mary E. King

University for Peace of the United Nations, San Jose, Costa Rica

Kurt Schock

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Rutgers University, USA

Stellan Vinthagen

Resistance Studies Program, School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

This course is designed to provide an in-depth and multi-disciplinary perspective on civilian-based movements and campaigns that defend and obtain basic rights and justice around the world - from Egypt to Burma, from Zimbabwe to West Papua.The course will examine such questions as: What is civil resistance? What determines the success or failure of a civil resistance movement? How can educators, scholars and professionals better understand and analyze what elements are at work when civilians use nonviolent tactics? How and when should external agents – governments, non-state actors – act or not act when civil resistance is gaining momentum? How can the dynamics and history of civil resistance better inform the understanding of political contention, negotiations, transitions, and violent and nonviolent conflicts?

Historically, political change in countries that curtail freedom and ignore international human rights norms has been difficult to achieve. Violent revolution or the use of armed force by external actors is typically seen as the necessary means of overcoming oppression. Yet civil resistance, relying on a variety of methods of nonviolent action, has been used for this purpose for well over a century in different parts of the world, by different peoples and societies, in different cultures and political systems, and with impressive results as well as some apparent failures.

This phenomenon has only recently started gaining greater recognition as a potentially formidable strategic force by policy makers, political observers and scholars. Often this recognition has been spurred by the spectacle of dictatorships and undemocratic rulers succumbing, not to armed insurrections, but to the coercive nonviolent pressure of mass civic movements, as in countries such as the Philippines, Chile, Poland, South Africa, Serbia, Ukraine or Egypt. The sweeping political ferment taking place in North Africa and the Middle East since the end of 2010 provides new, dramatic evidence of how civil resistance can drive political change. Furthermore, countries that experience bottom-up, civilian-based resistance are known to have a better track record of successful democratic transitions than the states that initiated their systemic transformation after a protracted civil war, or due to top-down, elite-to-elite negotiations or external military interventions.

Who should join the course?
Graduate students, junior faculty, researchers and professionals from universities and civil society organizations are encouraged to apply.