This past week I spent three days in Atlanta, GA meeting and working with scholars, academics, and educators interested in teaching courses on civil resistance.
ICNC put together a two day workshop on the study and teaching of civil resistance with the input of some of the world’s top scholars in the field. Dr. Kurt Schock from Rutgers University presented his research on civil resistance movements for land reform in countries like India and Brazil. Dr. Cynthia Boaz from Sonoma State University presented on the role of women in civil resistance movements and looked specifically at the women’s movement in Iran among other struggles. Tom Hastings from Portland State University and blogger presented on the historiography of teaching and pedagogy of civil resistance. Howard Clark, Chair of War Resisters International, presented on the conceptual foundations of disobedience and protest. Stephen Zunes from San Fransisco University presented on current issues and controversies associated with civil resistance and looked at several cases, past and present, and some of the lessons learned from studying these movements. And Les Kurtz from George Mason University presented on various ways educators could structure syllabi for courses on civil resistance.
ICNC staff also presented some excellent workshops. Hardy Merriman, Senior Advisor for ICNC presented with Zunes on current issues and controversies. He also presented on common media misconceptions about civil resistance movements and gave an overview of the new civil resistance planning simulation game, People Power. Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, Senior Director for Education and Research presented on the role of skills versus conditions in waging a successful nonviolent struggle. He also presented on his research about the lost history of civil resistance in independence struggles.
I mostly observed while offering the occasional comment and addition to the presentations. I was also very much involved in preparing the online learning platform we used to organize the workshop curriculum and all the materials and resources we were sharing with the participants.
I designed from scratch a new website and installed the online learning platform, Moodle, to store and organize all the content. Moodle is very innovative and useful, open-source learning management system that is increasingly being used by academic institutions across the world. I actually think Moodle, and other free learning management systems like it, will soon bring an end to Blackboard’s near monopoly on the market. Blackboard is a for-profit company that has its own learning management system, but using it as both a teacher and a student, I have found its interface and functionality to be quite clunky and not very user-friendly.
Anyway, developing the website and incorporating Moodle into our work at ICNC has been a great learning experience and I am excited to continue using this platform for our courses in the future. I see it as a way to better collaborate with learners interested in this field and really catalog the excellent work that scholars are doing around the world to teach this subject and give it greater exposure and prominence.