ICNC Moderated Online “People Power” Course
The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) has hosted our flagship, 7-week long, free, moderated online course, “People Power: The Strategic Dynamics of Civil Resistance,” each Fall since 2012. By 2020, more than 350 learners around the world have engaged in and completed this unique learning program. In the latest 2019 moderated online course, we had 65 learners from 35 countries working together to understand the theory and practice of civil resistance and how they might be applied in participants’ own contexts. More about previous participants can be found here and in the overview of the past moderated courses.
The course takes place on ICNC’s online learning platform that prospective applicants can register for prior to the start of the course. Upon registration, they automatically gain access to ICNC’s Academic Online Curriculum with many resources relevant to civil resistance studies.
Soon after admission to the course is finalized, an orientation email is sent out to all accepted participants to guide them through signing up, logging in, and interacting in the course while getting the most out of the online learning experience. ICNC also offers a live orientation webinar, available on two occasions, the day before the official start of the course. All course materials—primarily readings, videos, and live webinars—are provided free-of-charge to admitted participants.
Civil resistance is a social and political phenomenon that defies a long-held belief in the power of arms to challenge brutal, violent adversaries. 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 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, how to remain nonviolent and deal effectively with the presence of violent flanks, use the phenomenon of repression backfiring to movement advantage, facilitate the process of 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.
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.
Course Goals and Content
The main goals of the moderated 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 adverse 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.
Course Modules (All information below is subject to modification.)
Module 1. Introduction to the Course
Welcome and Orientation Webinars • Participant Introductions • Present Knowledge Survey
Module 2. Foundations of Civil Resistance
What Is Civil Resistance? • The Effectiveness of Civil Resistance
Module 3. Cases of Civil Resistance Around the World
National Liberation Cases • Civil Safety/Autonomy Cases • Defense/Expansion of Rights Cases • Public Accountability Cases
Module 4. Strategy and Tactics of Civil Resistance
Analyzing Nashville Lunch Counter Campaign • The Role of Women in Civil Resistance • Strategy, Tactics, and Conflict Analysis Tools
Module 5. Repression, Backfire, and Defections
Repression and Backfire • Movement Strategies for Defections
Module 6. Violent Flanks, Agents Provocateurs, and Maintaining Nonviolent Discipline
Violent Flanks • An Inoculation Guide Against Agents Provocateurs • Maintaining Nonviolent Discipline
Module 7. New Frontiers in Civil Resistance Studies
Democratization and Civil Resistance • Civil Resistance against Abusive Corporate Practices • Civil Resistance and Faith Communities • Cultural Resistance
Module 8. 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. Moderators for the 2020 course include:
- 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. Kurt Schock, Associate Professor of Sociology, Rutgers University
- Dr. Isak Svennson, Professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden
- Dr. Cécile Mouly, Professor at FLACSO, Ecuador
- Dr. Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Thammasat University, Thailand
- Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, Senior Advisor, ICNC
- Dr. Steve Chase, Manager of Academic Initiatives, ICNC
Requirements for Participation
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.
Who are Course Participants
Close to 200 applicants apply to the course each year. We select between 40-60 participants to join the course. A standard cohort is usually very international and includes 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.
Past Courses Evaluation & Outcomes
- A comprehensive overview of the 2019 ICNC moderated online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2018 ICNC moderated online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2017 ICNC moderated online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2016 ICNC moderated online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2015 ICNC moderated online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2014 ICNC moderated online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2013 ICNC moderated online course
- A comprehensive overview of the 2012 ICNC moderated online course
Check for any ongoing calls for applications to our online courses.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. “Is ICNC planning to run another one of these online courses at some point?”
Yes, we have been running it in the fall of each year since 2012 and announce the call for applications mid-August of each year.
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. “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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