Program on Civil Resistance

This Program is designed to deepen and broaden the study of civil resistance movements.  Affiliated with the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights and the Center for the Study of Emergent Threats in the 21st Century, the program facilitates empirical research by graduate students and faculty on civilian-based responses to threats through the organized and collective use of methods of nonviolent action. 

Civil resistance movements occur primarily outside of institutional political channels, which may be non-existent, blocked, or controlled by hostile parties, and involve civilians promoting social change through the use of methods of nonviolent action.  Methods of nonviolent action are political acts implemented in situations of acute conflict that do not involve violence or the threat of violence against the opponent.  Hundreds of methods of nonviolent action have been used in struggles throughout history, including protest demonstrations, marches, boycotts, labor strikes, general strikes, occupations of public or private space, and civil disobedience. These methods of responding to threats are an alternative to both violence and passivity.  Historically, the impact of civil resistance movements on challenging unjust relationships between citizens and states, and oppressor and oppressed, has been significant. 

A first-wave of civil resistance research focused on the toppling of authoritarian regimes and the promotion of democracy.  An emerging second wave of research focuses on how civil resistance movements address more diffuse and systemic problems including de-democratization, government corruption, environmental degradation, and the inequitable distributions of land and resources.