The first course we ever did at the US Institute for Peace (USIP) was done for a somewhat off-label reason: we thought it would be a wild hoot to have a USIP certificate to hang, say, between SFQC and Ranger School diplomas on the Wall Of Excessive Self-Adoration.
To our shock, the course, in Conflict Analysis, was more than what we’d expected (which was a graduate seminar in concealing our identity and politics from Birkenstock-shod peacenik instructors), and we actually did indeed learn useful conflict-analysis tools from the course’s case-study based analyses of nasty (and generally misreported) man-made disasters like the Rwandan genocide and the Kosovo War. Yes, there’s never going to be a meeting of the minds between USIP instructors and unconventional warfare practitioners, but that doesn’t mean they have nothing to teach us — quite to the contrary.
Since then, USIP and its offerings have expanded quite a bit. They’re not free any more, but it seems like this upcoming course, for example, gives value for the money ($395).
Course participants will learn about the theoretical foundations of civil resistance through historical examples and first-hand accounts of nonviolent struggle. They will also be introduced to a variety of strategies and tools for waging nonviolent action, from time-tested methods to leveraging new media. The course culminates in a computer-based strategy game, People Power: The Game of Nonviolent Resistance, in which students are invited to apply their new knowledge and skills.
July dates listed for this course are approximate and will be finalized soon.
Via Civil Resistance and the Dynamics of Nonviolent Movements | United States Institute of Peace, where they have also posted the whole course’s four-week agenda.
We think this course is of interest to practitioners of UW foreign and domestic. On the page linked above, there is a video with the lead instructor explaining the pros of non-violent movements and the benefits of understanding them. After you go see the video, come back here and we’ll have some comments and criticisms.
The first comment is that the course may suffer from a common USIP bias, the whole Baby Duck World thing: only what’s recent is visible to the youthful instructors. Nonviolent resistance has a pedigree that is not merely 50 or 100 years long, the attention span of the GWU / American University / Ivy League types that usually populate these courses; it goes back millennia.
The instructor in this case, Daryn Cambridge, is a lefty’s lefty with a bio heavy on the ivory tower and feather-light on engagement with the real world. He does not appear ever to have held a job in the productive economy, just a string of parasitical Beltway non-profits.
He has worked or consulted in this capacity with organizations such as Common Cause, The Close Up Foundation, The Democracy Matters Institute, The Student Conservation Association, Learn-Serve International, One World Education, and the Institute for Technology and Social Change.
He serves on the boards of the Democracy Matters Institute and the Peace and Justice Studies Association. He has a M.A. in International Training and Education and a professional certificate in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, both from American University. He received his B.A. from Middlebury College.
Nonetheless, I expect that there are things we can learn from him. We’re thinking it’ll be worth the $395. Unlike the Conflict Analysis course, we don’t see it as useful down range. Instead, it’s best employed here.
Non-violent resistance is something that Americans are already practicing — if they are gun owners behind enemy lines in California, DC, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, etc. Our Canadian cousins recently overturned the long-gun registry that Canuck gun-controllers hoped would lead, as registration always does and is always intended to do, to confiscation, some day. They did this through a nonviolent, decentralized and leaderless campaign of passive resistance.
So maybe you, too, might benefit from a little nonviolent resistance theory. Go get it.