The History and Strategies of Nonviolent Alternatives to War

Compleat Scholar Class, Oct. 23 – Nov. 20, 2003

Thursdays, 7:00 – 9:00 PM, 1701 University Ave. Room 109
Taught by Michael Bischoff:, 612-521-1889

Class web page:

Class Plans (Subject to change based on input from participants):

Oct. 23
Introductions, Goals of the Class
Principles of Nonviolent Action (taken from India and Eastern European nonviolent movements)

Notes from the lecture , Oct. 23

Suggested Readings:

Excerpts from The Unconquerable World, by Jonathan Schell:
From the Nation:
Another excerpt:

Oct. 30
Stages of a Nonviolent Action Campaign
Methods of Nonviolent Action
Historical Case Study #1

Notes from the lecture, Oct. 30

Suggested Readings:

Sharp, Gene. “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.”

India, “Defying the Crown,” Background from A Force More Powerful

“Stages of Movement Development”, George Lakey

Nov. 6  

Draft of a letter about the strike, to be sent from people in our class

Limits and weaknesses of previous nonviolent action campaigns
Historical Case Study #2

Suggested Readings:

Poland, “We’ve Caught God by the Arm,” Background from A Force More Powerful

Nov. 13

Civilian Based Defense; Uses of Nonviolent Action for Defense.
Role of the Media in Nonviolent Movements
Case Study #3 (current or historic)

  Notes from the lecture

  Suggested Readings:
Denmark, “Living With the Enemy,” Background from A Force More Powerful

Serbia, “Bringing Down a Dictator”

Nov. 20

Application of the principles of nonviolent action to contemporary conflicts  

Suggested Readings:  

 "Liberation Without War," Talk by Jack DuVall

NEW: Notes from the lecture

Lederach, John Paul. “Reframing Terror from the Perspective of Conflict Resolution”

Additional Recommended Reading: 

Peter Ackerman & Jack Duvall, A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, New York: Palgrave Publishers, 2000. Companion volume to the 3-hour PBS series. Contains multiple in-depth historical case studies.

Schell, Jonathan. The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2003.  A synthesis of the principles of nonviolent movements across the world put in the context of military and political history.

Examples of nonviolent movements in other countries (from the official web site for “A Force More Powerful”):

A more extensive bibliography of the history and strategy of nonviolent action:

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