The Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict is the only executive education program in the advanced, interdisciplinary study of nonviolent conflict, taught by leading scholars and practitioners of strategic nonviolent action and authorities from related fields.
In 2010, international professionals, leaders of indigenous NGOs, journalists, campaign organizers, issue advocates and educators from twenty-nine countries around the world came together for six days at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Massachusetts to learn about and discuss nonviolent conflict and civil resistance.
Be a part of the experience...
Rev. James Lawson
Prolific civil rights leader and trainer of nonviolent action, Rev. James Lawson, delivers the opening banquet keynote address talking about his experience organizing and training activists in the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins.
Jack DuVall looks at how the modern practice of civil resistance sprang from ideas about the underlying nature of political power that began to be framed about 150 years ago. As pioneered by Gandhi and adopted by scores of movements and campaigns for rights and justice in the 20th century, strategies of civil resistance have exhibited a common dynamic, propelled historic changes -- and imparted certain political and social properties to the societies they often transformed. The record of the effectiveness of these nonviolent strategies in liberating oppressed people, when compared to that of violent insurgency or revolt, has been remarkable -- and suggests why political violence could largely be displaced in the future.
Strategic planning and tactical choice are essential considerations in effective civil resistance. This session offers a strategic framework with which to analyze civil resistance movements. It also examines the diversity of tactics available to civil resisters, and explores issues involved in tactical choice, success and failure.
Dr. Janet Cherry
These three critical phases in the work of most nonviolent movements are examined in this session, with examples -- as in South Africa with the United Democratic Front -- illustrating the trajectory of organizing and building a diverse, representative mass movement; the way in which broad unity with a range of allies is constructed; and the nature of leadership.
Dr. Doug McAdam
Using the U.S. civil rights movement as the principal example, McAdam talks about the typical mix of top down environmental facilitation and bottom up grass roots activism that fuel successful social movements. Appropriately, FSI puts the emphasis on the latter, but a full understanding of the prospects for significant social change requires that activists understand the critical reciprocal relationship between people power and the shifting environmental circumstances they confront.
Every civil resistance movement can be understood as engaging in a contest with an adversary, whether that is a government or other institutional source of injustice or oppression. Movements may use tactics that deny their adversaries legitimacy and material resources, as well as reduce the loyalty of the adversary's supporters. Conversely, a movement's adversary may take actions to deny a movement legitimacy, material resources, or the loyalty of the movement's supporters. All these effects can be understood as costs to the operational capacity of either side. There are also certain risks inherent in the choice of strategy and tactics; imposing costs always entails taking risks. This module will frame civil resistance from the perspective of three kinds of costs and risks: material/economic; political/legitimacy-related; and social/psychological. Successful civil resistance customarily requires planning, which should take costs and risks into account.
Dr. Mary King
Mary King offers an overview of the remarkable and previously untold account of the first intifada as a massive nonviolent social mobilization. The Palestinians' deliberately chosen methods for resisting the Israeli occupation effectively debunk the widely held notion of the first intifada as violent. King will discuss the decades-long spread of knowledge about nonviolent strategies throughout Palestinian society shaped the uprising, which was years in the making, and will offer details on the intifada's ability to continue despite harsh reprisals. Through the determination of thousands of "popular committees," often started and run by women, and the ability to sustain communities under curfew or strike, the nonviolent movement during the first intifada was a "quiet revolution" which emerged as the most cogent pressure to date to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Dr. Maciej Bartkowski
Senior Director, Education and Research
International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
Dr. Victoria Tin-Bor Hui
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Notre Dame University
Does the use of civil resistance create long-lasting effects on civil society and political life? Does participation in broad-based nonviolent movements instill democratic values, which make democracy more sustainable after a transition? These and other questions help explore what kind of social capital may be created by nonviolent movements, using the case of the Polish Solidarity movement in communist Poland and its residual effect on the Polish society and politics in the immediate and long term perspectives following the 1989 changes.
A movement that makes its own media has considerable advantages and better chances of success than those that must depend on commercial media to tell their story and define their narrative. Narco News publisher Al Giordano and Torture in Egypt publisher Noha Atef, both of the School of Authentic Journalism, share practical tips on citizen media with an emphasis on strategies, tactics and tools for organizers and participants in social movements, nonviolent campaigns and civil resistance.
"Budrus" is an award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel's Separation Barrier. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women's contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today.
After the screening, participants were joined by Ayed Morrar, the film's protagonist, and Julia Bacha (via Skype) to hear them speak more about the experience of nonviolent resistance in Budrus and the making of the film.
Burma VJ Film Screening
Released in 2008, Burma VJ is a documentary film that looks at brave citizen journalists risking torture and life in jail in order to live the essence of journalism as they insist on keeping up the flow of news from their closed country. The film offers a unique insight into high-risk journalism and dissidence in a police state, while at the same time providing a thorough documentation of the historical and dramatic days of September 2007, when the Buddhist monks started marching. Burma VJ was a Best Documentary nominee at the 2009 Academy Awards.
After the screening, two FSI participants who work with Burmese activists on the Thai/Burma border, spoke about their experience working with individuals and groups involved in the nonviolent struggle against the military junta.