is offered every year in partnership with
The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), in partnership with Rutgers University International Institute for Peace (Rutgers IIP), has hosted our flagship, 6-week long, free, moderated online course, “People Power: The Study of Strategic Nonviolent Resistance,” each Fall since 2012. By 2017, more than 250 learners around the world have engaged in and completed this unique learning program. In 2017, we had 60 students from 29 different countries working together to understand the theory and practice of civil resistance and how it might be applied in their own contexts. The next call for applications for the FALL 2018 ICNC-Rutgers course is expected in May 2018.
The ICNC-Rutgers course take place on ICNC’s online learning platform that applicants can already register for and automatically get access to our “Academic Online Curriculum (AOC)” with many resources relevant to civil resistance studies.
Prior to the start of the course, an orientation email is sent out to all accepted participants to guide them through signing up, logging in, interacting in the online space, and getting the most out of the online learning experience. ICNC also offers a live orientation webinar, available on two occasions, a few days before the official start of the course. All course materials – primarily readings, videos, and live webinars – are provided free-of-charge to admitted participants.
- Course description
- Course goals
- Course content and modules
- Course moderators
- Participant commitment
- Successful participants eligible for ICNC grant opportunities
- Who are course participants
- Graduate credits available
- Free admission and graduate credit fee
- Past ICNC-Rutgers courses evaluation & outcomes
- Frequently asked questions
Civil resistance is a social and political phenomenon that defies a long-held belief in the power of arms to challenge brutal, violent adversary. Contrary to the dominant news narrative about endless civil wars and political violence, nonviolent resistance campaigns against repressive states have been on the rise in the last few decades, surpassing violent insurgencies by almost 5 to 1 in the last 15 years.
For the past several years, ICNC has supported work to develop unique datasets of nonviolent campaigns (NAVCO). In 2011, this work led to a ground-breaking quantitative study that showed that civil resistance movements often emerge and succeed in challenging environments. It also established that civil resistance struggles are more than twice as effective against violent states as armed resistance groups.
Informed by these important developments in the field and scholarly findings, the ICNC-Rutgers course provides an interactive, in-depth and multidisciplinary perspective on civilian-based movements and campaigns that defend and obtain basic rights and justice around the world. The course explains the nature of civil resistance and its force, underlying dynamics, and effectiveness.
During the course learners reflect on the skills and agency of ordinary people, their strategies and tactics, the backfire effect, and defections. We look at how entrenched political and social structures and practices shift under the pressure of organized nonviolent movements, and the long-term impacts on societies, nations and institutions.
Finally, the course examines a variety of case studies of civil resistance struggles, including those whose objectives are not regime change but instead to challenge corruption, change policies, or counter abusive and violent non-state actors.
The online course involves a number of activities to be completed within specified time frames, including forum posts, recorded webinars, readings, videos, webinar meetings and online discussions. Learners also work in small groups and connect live via videoconferencing to discuss different group assignments and prepare briefs or statements related to specific scenarios or a challenge on nonviolent organizing and civil resistance campaigns.
Experts in the field provide their insights and moderate various forums of the online class while live webinar events offer participants an opportunity to listen to and engage with other practitioners that bring experience of organizing, planning and waging civil resistance actions in different parts of the world.
The main goals of the ICNC-Rutgers online course have been:
- To introduce main concepts and ideas in civil resistance
- To discuss a variety of case studies of nonviolent campaigns and movements
- To reflect on the effectiveness of civil resistance and its power to overcome adversarial conditions
- To provide a platform for participant exchange and peer-to-peer learning
- To offer an interactive and structured learning environment for participants to become a more informed observer of nonviolent conflicts and effective conveyor of civil resistance knowledge
These modules and content areas are from the ICNC-Rutgers course offered in 2017 and are subject to modification in the future.
- Module 1.Introduction to the Course
Welcome and Orientation Webinars • Participant Introductions • Present Knowledge Survey.
- Module 2. Foundation of Civil Resistance.
What Is Civil Resistance? • The Effectiveness of Civil Resistance.
- Module 3. Conditions and Skills.
The Emergence of Civil Resistance • Conditions and their Impact • Skills Drive Civil Resistance
- Module 4. Strategies and Tactics of Civil Resistance.
Analyzing Nashville Lunch Counter Campaign • Strategic Planning and Tactical Choices • Cultural Resistance Tactics • Tactical Innovation • Conflict Analysis Tools
- Module 5. Repression, Backfire, and Defections.
Repression and Backfire • Defections
- Module 6. New Frontiers in Civil Resistance Studies.
Women and Nonviolent Resistance • Democratization and Civil Resistance • Civil Resistance against Abusive Corporate Practices
- Module 7. Completing the Course.
Course Evaluations • Learning Gains Survey.
The unique learning value of the online course comes from the quality of participants as well as experts and scholars of civil resistance who moderate forum discussions. For example, the list of moderators in for the 2017 course included:
- Dr. Erica Chenoweth, Professor & Associate Dean for Research, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
- Dr. Véronique Dudouet, Senior Researcher and Program Director, Berghof Foundation, Berlin
- Dr. Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham, Associate Professor at the Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland
- Dr. Mary King, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, UN-affiliated University for Peace, Costa Rica and Distinguished Rothermere American Institute Fellow, University of Oxford
- Dr. Jason MacLeod, Instructor of Civil Resistance, the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney
- Dr. Kurt Schock, Associate Professor of Sociology, Rutgers University
- Dr. Isak Svennson, Professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University
- Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, Senior Director of Education and Research, ICNC
- Dr. Steve Chase, Manager of Academic Initiatives, ICNC
- Azaz Elshami, Manager of Global Field Initiatives, ICNC
- Amber French, Manager of Editorial Initiatives, ICNC
As part of the online course, participants engage with the assigned material and collaborate through online discussions.
All admitted participants are expected to spend between 7 and 10 hours per week in the online classroom, and a minimum of 1 hour per day (7 days) for the full duration of the course on reviewing materials, posting comments about the readings and assigned videos, and interacting with/responding to other participants’ posts and moderators’ comments.
Meeting these commitment requirements is essential to the learning experience, both for the participants themselves and for the group experience as a whole. Course content released each week builds on past content; therefore learning is interrupted and ineffective when participation is irregular. In addition, we believe that all of our learners have important contributions to make to the learning experience. Lack of participation and irregular or no posting are therefore also a disservice to other learners.
Participation in the online class is not restricted by time zone. Course content, forums and posts are all accessible to participants at any time of day.
Participants of ICNC-Rugers course who have met all requirements and actively engaged in course activities and interactions throughout the course are eligible to apply for ICNC’s small grant opportunities. These include the ICNC Local Learning Initiatives Network (LIN fellowship) and Small Grants Program. These programs support grassroots initiatives that build and spread knowledge and skills related to nonviolent resistance in communities around the world. Grant funds can be used to design and give workshops, develop engaging materials, map or monitor movements, translate material into local languages, and other creative activities. ICNC might also reach out to selected participants who completed successfully the online course and stood out with their contributions and insights on various discussion forums and invite them to be webinar speakers as part of the ICNC Webinar Series.
ICNC also provides a signed certificate of successful participation to all qualified candidates who request it.
Close to 200 applicants apply to the ICNC-Rutgers course each year. We select between 40-60 participants to join the course. A standard ICNC-Rutgers group is usually very international and include nationals from at least 25 countries, on average. Learners would have relevant professional experience and include activists, organizers, graduate students, educators, scholars, civil society leaders, journalists, and policy professionals.
Participants may choose to take the course and receive graduate credits from the Rutgers University Graduate Schools in Newark, New Jersey, that may be transferable to one’s academic institution. Taking the course for credit involves a fee and additional course assignments to meet credit requirements.
Admitted participants are not charged for participation in the ICNC-Rutgers course unless they opt to register for graduate credits offered by Rutgers University Graduate School. The credit fees for 2017 were:
No credits: FREE | One credit: $702 USD | Two credits: $1,404 USD (payable directly to Rutgers University)
- A comprehensive overview of the 2016 ICNC online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2015 ICNC online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2014 ICNC online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2013 ICNC online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2012 ICNC online course
Check for any ongoing calls for applications to our online courses.
1. “Is ICNC planning to run another one of these online courses at some point?”
Yes, we have been running it once a year for several years and plan to run it again next year in fall though we plan to have a new call for applicants out sometime in May 2018.
2. “Can I get a certificate if I undertake the course as a non-credited learning opportunity at no charge?”
Yes. Provided that all the course requirements (posting on the mandatory forums and engaging actively with other participants and materials) are met, we will provide a certificate of completion for this course.
3. “When should I contact Rutgers if I want to take the course for credit?”
After you are accepted for the course, and before the course begins ICNC will send your contact information to the Rutgers administrators who will be in touch with you regarding the payment for the credits.
4. “Should I still apply if I won’t be able to meet all of the participation expectations of the course?”
Preference in admission will be given to those who can commit fully to the stated course requirements, including hourly commitment (min. 1h per day and 7-10h per week). We cannot guarantee an admission for those who cannot commit to the course requirements though they can still submit their online application for our consideration and add a note regarding how much they can commit to if, for various reasons, they cannot take the full course load.
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