Lilit Makunts, an ICNC Curriculum Fellow, developed, offered and moderated an online course on the introduction to civil resistance in Fall 2016 as part of the ICNC Curriculum Fellowship. The course was conducted on the ICNC Moodle platform.
The information featured below was submitted as part of the fellowship requirement that, among others, included creating a detailed course proposal, developing online content, designing evaluation tools, selecting participants and extensive moderation throughout the course.
Learn more by clicking on the topic links:
- About the Curriculum Fellow
- Course Abstract
- Learning Gains Survey Results
- Final Course Evaluation Results
- Selected Testimonials
- Useful Tips from Participants for Course Success
Go back to the main ICNC Curriculum Fellowship page.
Lilit Makunts is currently an Associate Professor at Russian-Armenian University in Yerevan. She earned her Ph.D. in Cognitive Linguistics specializing in Political Discourse. She teaches Sociolinguistics, Cognitive Linguistics, and Discourse Analysis. After attending the Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict in 2015, she initiated an academic course on Civil Resistance in the Department of Political Science this fall.
Still a student, she was very actively engaged in civic initiatives. Her aspiration for democratic changes in Armenia made her enter politics in 2004 and try to promote universal values. However, after about 8 years as a political board member in the Liberal Party of Armenia and the head of the youth organization (2004-2012) she realized that, without civic education and the acknowledgment of people power among society, no substantial democratic changes can take place. This was the major reason she quit political activity and started working with civil society groups and individuals. Along with academic teaching, she works as a trainer on different civil society platforms.
Course Abstract: This is an online seminar that aims to provide civil society representatives, social/political activists and students with basic knowledge of civil resistance history as well as to introduce them to strategies and tactics that are employed worldwide to make nonviolent resistance effective. The course intends to discuss various cases of nonviolent campaigns and movements and reflect on their efficiency by drawing parallels across local contexts. The course will begin with an introduction to civil resistance and its historical background and will discuss its common misconceptions. It will analyze the reasons why nonviolent campaigns succeed more often than violent ones and will touch upon the idea of people power and how it works. The seminar will further discuss strategic frameworks for analyzing campaigns and movements, as well as explore issues related to innovative and creative tactical choice. Cultural resistance will then be discussed as a creative way to challenge and fight oppression. The last component of the online course will be devoted to the discussion of the role of negotiations in civil resistance and the options regarding their application in nonviolent struggles in Armenia.
Learning Gains Survey Results
The Learning Gains Survey aims to measure knowledge gains among course participants. Participants take the Pre-Seminar Survey at the beginning of the course and take an identical survey (Post-Seminar) at the end of the course. Included below are the graphed responses to selected questions from the Pre-Seminar and Post-Seminar Surveys. In general, the surveys illustrate a positive trend in the knowledge gains achieved by participants as a result of the course.
1. On the scale below, grade your current knowledge of civil resistance or nonviolent movements. (Left: Pre-Seminar Results, Right: Post-Seminar Results)
Explanation: In the Pre-Seminar LGS, more than one third of participants (35.7% selected option 3) felt they had relatively little knowledge of civil resistance or nonviolent movements and zero participants ranked their knowledge above a score of 7. In the Post-Seminar LGS, close to 85% of participants felt that they had a very high level of knowledge on the subject (8-10).
2. On the scale below, identify your comfort level in speaking to others about civil resistance or nonviolent movements. (Left: Pre-Seminar Results, Right: Post-Seminar Results)
Explanation: In the Pre-Seminar LGS, participants reported a wide range of comfort levels when speaking about civil resistance or nonviolent movements; some participants ranked their level as very low and others as very high. [Participants might have understood this question not only in relation to their knowledge of/familiarity with the subject but also in relation to their willingness to speak about it with others in a relatively closed society]. The results of the Post-Seminar LGS indicate that all participants now feel confident in their ability to speak about this topic, with 77% ranking their comfort level as a 9 or a 10 and the remaining 23% ranking their comfort level as an 8.
3. On the scale below, select the number that best represents your knowledge on the history and effectiveness of nonviolent civil resistance. (Left: Pre-Seminar Results, Right: Post-Seminar Results)
Explanation: There is a clear growth in participants’ knowledge of the history and effectiveness of nonviolent civil resistance. In the Pre-Seminar LGS 42.9% of participants ranked their knowledge of this topic as low (3). However, in the Post-Seminar LGS 92.4% of participants ranked their knowledge as very high (8-10).
4. On the scale below, grade the effectiveness of nonviolent campaigns over the violent ones. (Left: Pre-Seminar Results, Right: Post-Seminar Results)
Explanation: In the Pre-Seminar LGS, participants were divided in their feelings of the effectiveness of nonviolent campaigns over violent ones. However, in the Post-Seminar LGS 69.3% of participants, no doubt informed by the readings and class discussions, reported that nonviolent campaigns can be highly effective, even more so than their violent counterparts.
5. On the scale below, select the number that best represents your view on the statement that movements that face repression cannot succeed. (Left: Pre-Seminar Results, Right: Post-Seminar Results)
Explanation: In the Post-Seminar LGS the number of participants who strongly disagreed that movements that face repression cannot succeed nearly doubled from 28.6% to 46.2%.
6. On the scale below, select the number that best reflects your view about how effective cultural resistance can be. (Left: Pre-Seminar Results, Right: Post-Seminar Results)
Explanation: The number of the participants who reported that cultural resistance can be highly effective (9-10) nearly doubled, from 35.7% in the Pre-Seminar LGS to 61.6% in the Post-Seminar LGS.
7. On the scale below, indicate the number that best represents your view on the statement that violent campaigns can be more effective for democratic transitions than nonviolent ones. (Left: Pre-Seminar Results, Right: Post-Seminar Results)
Explanation: The number of participants who felt strongly that violent campaigns cannot be more effective for democratic transitions than nonviolent ones, increased from 14.3% on the Pre-Seminar LGS to 23.1% on the Post-Seminar LGS (1).
8. On the scale below, indicate the number that best represents your opinion about how effective nonviolent movements are against repressive regimes. (Left: Pre-Seminar Results, Right: Post-Seminar Results)
Explanation: On the Pre-Seminar LGS, 28.6% of participants believed that nonviolent movements are very effective (8-10) against repressive regimes. The number of participants who held this view increased to 46.2% in the Post-Seminar LGS.
Included below are graphed responses to selected questions from the Final Course Evaluation.
2. The goals of the course and its modules were clear (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
3. Course modules and content were timed and sequenced well (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
4. Course content was comprehensive and balanced, and topics were well selected (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
5. Taking this online course was a positive experience (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
6. I now have more knowledge about civil resistance and its various topics than I had before taking the course (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
7. I have reviewed some misconceptions that I had on nonviolent resistance as a result of the course (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
8. I found the module on “Developing Strategy and Tactics” useful (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
9. I consider analyzing the spectrum of allies to be important for planning (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
10. I found weekly module summaries shared by the course moderator relevant and helpful (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
12. I learned about civil resistance from other course participants (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
13. Course content matched my interests and professional needs (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
14. The course met or exceeded my expectations (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
15. I would recommend this course to other people (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
16. How would you assess your own engagement with the course material, including participation in the course forums? (on a scale from 1 to 5)
17. I feel my knowledge on nonviolent resistance can be resourceful for researchers, activists and other interest groups (1: Strongly Disagree; 5: Strongly Agree)
- “Initially, I was very enthusiastic about this online course and, now, my expectations are justified…..Before the course I was very pessimistic about the changes that one can make in their own country, but now it is quite the opposite picture. The examples, the people, the achievements were so influential, that you could not help believing in its power. The most valuable part for me were the discussions, because here you can, directly, feel the great concerns of different people on one issue, and discussions, in that sense, were the beginning of something new.”
- “For me the part of “Developing Strategies and Tactics” was the most interesting and important, because it shares theoretical knowledge on very practical part of social/political life.”
- “Each module of the course was valuable and in each step we got a new knowledge. In future I will use my knowledge from the course. She is a great moderator because she constantly reminds us that she is willing to listen to anything we have to say and discuss.”
- “I liked the discussions in the forums, it was great to know that there are people who value the idea of non-violent civil resistance.”
- “I liked it and everything was balanced. I think all of modules are valuable and they can’t be separated.”
- “First of all the whole course was inspiring and motivating, which, I think, is quite necessary for today’s generation, particularly in our country. Most of all I liked the 6th module, ‘Cultural Resistance’, as it seemed to be the best way of a nonviolent civil movement in many ways.”
- “I got very positive impression from the course, because I learned a lot of new things about non-violent civil resistance. I especially liked when we studied different successful cases of civil resistance all around the world.”
- “I’ll mention 3 topics which really impress me. They are ‘Developing Strategy and Tactics’, ‘Cultural Resistance’, and ‘Negotiations and Civil Resistance’
- “The course was very useful for me. I particularly enjoyed the interaction between participants in the forums.”
- Time management and self-commitment
- Spend 1.5 – 2 hours per day engaging in the course
- Before watching and reading materials, review the forum discussion questions
- Do not leave tasks to the last day of each module
- Be as attentive and active as possible; taking this course and reviewing this literature is a duty
- Create a schedule
- Read material every day little by little
- Keep up with forum discussions that other participants lead; it is the best way to remember all the course details and to apply various points of view
Go back to the main ICNC Curriculum Fellowship page.