Boycotts and protests, or dialogue and negotiation? Pressure or engagement? Which approaches, and in what sequence, are most effective for transforming conflict and building sustainable peace?
In 1971, feminist nonviolent activist Barbara Deming wrote about “revolution and equilibrium,” asserting that activists needed “two hands of nonviolence”—one hand with a palm facing out to say “stop the injustice!” and another offered as a handshake. Building just, inclusive, and peaceful societies requires people who are willing to take on a wide variety of approaches, including direct action, relationship building, volunteer mobilization, dialogue, and negotiation. However, some scholars and practitioners view these approaches as separate or incompatible. Grassroots activists know how to engage in nonviolent action, but they may have less experience facilitating a delicate meeting featuring diverse groups and opinions. Peacebuilders can excel at dialogue or negotiation, but they may get stuck when one group has more power than another, making it difficult to reach just resolution. Each approach has its own history, community of practice, literature, and education and training programs.
This course seeks to reduce this separation and illustrate how the most strategic and effective methods from both fields can support one another on the path towards conflict transformation and building sustainable peace. It is meant to be taken in conjunction with participation in an in-person SNAP workshop, which will provide more detail and practice with NVA and PB approaches and how they can be integrated effectively.
Participants in this hybrid course and workshop will:
- Learn about the history, theory, and strategy of nonviolent movements and peace processes from a diverse set of activists, scholars, and practitioners;
- Explore and practice nonviolent action and peacebuilding conflict analysis and strategic planning approaches, including identifying conflict stakeholders and learning how to sequence dialogue, direct action, and negotiation to address grievances and make peace processes more effective;
- Engage with a growing community of learners and experts enrolled in the course online and in-person through a continuous series of live, interactive, and collaborative events; and
- Join a network of activists, organizers, and peacebuilders from around the world who understand and value one another’s contributions and are committed to working together to build just and sustainable peace.
This micro-course is meant to be taken before an in-person SNAP workshop to provide a grounding in nonviolent action and peacebuilding terminology and approaches and give participants the opportunity to practice with key assessment tools found in the SNAP guide. It is not comprehensive and should not be taken as a standalone course. Rather, this course is the first part of a hybrid course, in which participants learn and practice key concepts on their own before joining other practitioners for joint learning, practice, and strategic planning. Please bring your questions and responses to the activities with you to the in-person workshop so we can work through them together.