Nonviolence 2000 A.U. Spring Semester Course Syllabus

8:1010:40 PMs, Wednesdays “Theories & Methods-Nonviolence”  SIS 519-009.03


Instructors:             Mubarak Awad                        Tel:              202/244-6410

Paul Hubers                         Fax:            202/244-6396

Assistant:            Carrie McVicker                     Email:  

Office Hours:  By Appt., NYAP/NI, 4545 42nd St., NW, Suite 209

Washington, DC 20016              M-F  9:00 – 5:00 


            Our course explores contextual nonviolence examples, socially, geographically and philosophically.  We will bring to light theory, method, and practice in hermeneutical examples that enhance nonviolent struggle in personal growth, experience, and reflection, over what works and what does not.  Our objectives will be to identify, examine, understand, critique, and advance nonviolence in peace-with-justice lifestyles.

            Personal growth in nonviolent direct action resonates in what might be called pragmatic and spiritual views, through social, ethical, religious, and humanitarian means to resolving conflict with the least amount of violence possible.  Nonviolence in practice thus means effecting mutual change toward mutual benefit and responsibility, using nonviolent force, power, and coercion to heal and overcome the damage from violence.  We will be analyzing violence as causing or threatening death, injury, or impoverishment in the exercise of force and power.  Power then can be seen as the ability to do or act in such a way as to influence, whether by violence or nonviolence; Force being the effort and strength which prompts, restricts, or determines courses of action and events; … Conflict, the clash or struggle that occurs when force or power are opposed; and Coercion, the application of force and power in the context of struggle.

We’ll take a look at current examples like, e.g., Bosnia, Ireland, Chechnya, Civil Rights, Farm Worker, Take-Back-the-Night, and Anti-Nuke experiences, including some paradigm-shattering events in the Faslane/Trident Peace Camp.  Writers will include King, Sharp, Gandhi, Boulding, Bondurant, Kelly, Kumar, Maguire, McAllister, and Zunes.  Our 14-Session Course will work out as webcentric as possible, using catalytic sources, e.g., Mohandas Gandhi’s Autobiography Online, and inter-reliant opportunities through the global Year 2000 Housmans Peace Diary & World Peace Directory.

            You will amplify the experiences you observe in composing two memos and two papers, the last paper complementing a course project focused on one experience.  We will also physically design nonviolent action tools in class, like demo placards, as an exercize on how to reach and change people most directly, thus inducing significant change through nonviolence.  People may resolve conflict through nonviolence in various ways, for instance, participatory research modes, Gandhian or Kingian activist styles, socio-economic opposition to military conscription, managing multi-media-streaming – webcentric preferences, and being-in-touch with a group or personalized spirituality.  By definition, civil disobedience transcends “breaking” law/s, in order to follow “higher” law, through action inspiring the divine or essential force inside each of us.

            Putting items in a three-ring binder or clipboard-combo may help you organize your notes incrementally.  We will depend on class dialogue, based on your readings and experiences.  Regularity, consistency, and preparedness of contributions will weigh into class grading.  Class dialogue will count for 25% of the grade, the two memos, 10% each, the mid-term, 20% and the final project, 35%.  Please see the assistant or one of the instructors as to whether or not continue if you miss three or more classes.  We will be learn together how to face the ups-&-downs of nonviolence, from fear, hate, risk, threat, anger, and grievance, to cooperative and responsible completion.  Be ready to overcome hard questions confidently, using your own creative strengths. A terse paragraph on theme, with brief source citations, will be due on 2 February, describing plans for doing the final project — You may need to make an appointment with the class assistant within the ensuing two weeks, as to suggested office resources at Nonviolence International.

The two memos and papers should synthesize constructive, critically-organized criteria useful for making a difference.  Memo One [TO:… FROM:…], one-page only, due 16 February, should be written concisely, as if you were addressing a research colleague and prioritizing participatory criteria, as to one of two options, a memo to either: 1) Use online & in-print criteria options, as found, e.g., in INCORE or the University of Ulster, to recommend common salient “talking points” for initiating street-level nonviolence to resolve grievances in Timor or Ireland; or a memo that 2) Uses online & in-print options as found, e.g., in corporate watch organizations, to recommend precise targeting for concentrating an international boycott against an autocratic regime in Burma.

            1st March: Assignments of Project date & times.  The double-spaced, five-page limit, 8 March Take-Home Mid-Term Exam should be written in memo form as well, but as if addressing one’s own colleagues, listing participatory action criteria, as to one of the two options below for halting housing demolitions and Palestinian displacement in Jerusalem & Palestine, that is, a memo that either 1) Uses online & in-print options as found, e.g., in Bir Zeit University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; or 2) Uses online & in-print options representing U.S. perspectives, interests, and resources, so as to outline analogous practical criteria.  A month later, with the same construction as Memo One (above), Memo Two, one-page only, due 5 April, should read as if addressing one’s Board of Directors this time, prioritizing participatory action criteria, from commencing street-level nonviolence to applying global boycott tools, (in relation to recent Faslane developments, for instance), as to one of two memo options, that either: 1) describe legal tools to decriminalize anti-nuclear opposition against nuclear power, weapons, and pollution-cancer issues; or 2) depict global or international nonviolence tools to criminalize nuclear power and weapons systems.  Brochure page also due 5 April.

            Final Project Papers will depend on those groupings that fit best naturally, based on an issue chosen by each group, (at the course’s beginning), for doing the final, double-spaced, 10-page limit (with endnotes), Project Paper, due 26 April.  So a Project Paper from a group of, e.g., three people should not be longer than 30 pages, double-spaced.  Project Paper reports will be graded both as to individually-labeled sections in a group effort, panel, or workshop, and as to how the group works/writes together; Outside panelists welcome (if pre-approved).  Nonviolence is a group effort, flourishing through diverse talents, as this final paper should be, whether in netcam, artistic, audiovisual, or multi-media format, and so on; the more the creative impact, the higher the grade.  Time-length of presentations will be set proportionate to class size and available room facilities.

Class meetings overall will center on differentiating theory, method, and practice, comparing viewpoints and methodologies, and assessing pragmatic, as well as doable or workable, contextual examples, via weekly themes, as specifically-framed by instructor & guest speaker schedules.  Our class schedule will develop throughout the semester as follows, in an overall, week-by-week process: