Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict

Each year, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict holds a week long course on nonviolent conflict and civil resistance at the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.  Participants come from all over the world and from a variety of backgrounds.  This year we had participants from 5 continents, 25 countries, speaking 18 different languages, and professionals and/or organizers involved in various nonviolent struggles around the globe in places like West Papua, Palestine, Egypt, Nepal, India, Burma, Russia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mexico, and several other places.

I attended the Fletcher Summer Institute (FSI) last year, but only for a couple days, so it was a real treat to be able to experience the program in its entirety.  Also, being a staff member this year, as opposed to an observer last year, I had a lot more responsibility in helping develop, organize, plan, and facilitate the institute (during the week of the Institute, I put in 96 hours of work!).

One of these many responsibilities was building an e-classroom for the institute using the learning management system, Moodle.  In this e-classroom we organized all the various presentations sequentially and created folders for presenters to share documents, power point presentations, audio/video files, forum space, and links to other resources.  ICNC’s e-classroom can be viewed at www.civilresistancestudies.org.

The great thing about organizing and storing our courses on a learning management system like Moodle is that it allows individuals who were not able to attend the course physically to still have access to the readings and presentations and also contribute via the online forums.  It has allowed ICNC to expand our network of learners at a very low cost.  For example, I was at a teacher’s workshop the following week and several of the teachers were interested in learning more about what was discussed, covered, and shared at FSI.  I shared with them the link to the e-classroom and instantly they could see all the presentations, and access and download any of the readings and handouts.

One of my other main roles during the week was to capture the FSI experience: what is FSI all about?  what issues and themes were discussed? what experience are participants bringing to the institute? and how can all this be presented in such a way to ensure that what happens at FSI has a ripple effect and is able to educate and impact people beyond the walls of the Fletcher school and beyond the six days.  In order to do this I worked with an excellent team of videographers – Ryanne and Jay at www.ryanishungry.com.  We videotaped the presentations, filmed interviews with some of the presenters and participants, and loaned out several flip video cameras for the participants to use themselves.  We asked them to interview each other during their free time asking each other questions like, “who are you?  what do you do? and why are you interested in civil resistance?”  We also asked the participants to share their reflections on the various presentations: “how does the topic of the presentation relate or impact your work?  how do you plan to make use of this knowledge and these ideas in your work?”

I found that the flip cameras were a great way to make the institute more experiential, particularly for those who were interested in incorporating more video and citizen journalism into their own work.  Every time someone would sign out a flip camera, I would give them a short tutorial on how to use it, how to frame someone in the camera, how to make people feel comfortable answering questions in front of the camera, and providing them with a list of suggested questions.  I also think this built in time for reflection in a fun way.  It encouraged people to think about how, if, and why the various presentations were relevant and allowing ICNC to use those thoughts for educational purposes.

So what’s the vision of how all this footage is going to be used?  The end product will be a section of our website that will be set up like TED Talks, where we will embed videos of each of the presentations accompanied by a short description and presenter bio.  There will also be space for site visitors to add their questions and comments.  We will also have a “meet the participants” section, with clips from the interviews the participants did with one another.  This is where future FSI applicants can learn about what kinds of people from around the world come to participate.  We will also be including links to video comments about the presentations that participants shared on video.  So after watching the presentation, a visitor can see what others in the audience thought about the talk.  These are all ways in which the FSI experience can live on beyond the one week institute.  Finally it is a way for others to share and spread the information and insight shared in the presentations.  That’s one of the greatest things about online, digital media.  It is so easy to share and spread information and hence increase the impact a single event can have.

Here is a teaser.  These are the presentations/interviews that we filmed and will soon be available online.

  • Keynote Address w/ Civil Rights Leader, Rev. James Lawson
  • The Core Dynamics of Civil Resistance (Jack DuVall)
  • Strategic Planning and Tactical Choices (Hardy Merriman)
  • Leadership, Mobilization, and Coalition Building (Janet Cherry)
  • Costs and Risks in Nonviolent Struggle (Hardy Merriman and Jack DuVall)
  • The Quiet Revolution in the First Intifada (Mary King)
  • Civil Resistance and Democratic Transitions (Maciej Bartkowski and Victoria Tin-bor Hui)
  • Citizen Journalism and Digital Resistance (Noha Atef and Al Giordano)
  • Social Movements: Power from Above and Below (Doug McAdam)
  • Protracted Conflict(Dipali Mukhopadhyay and Hardy Merriman)
  • The Future of Civil Resistance (Peter Ackerman)
  • Interviews with Stellan Vinthagen (Gothenberg University), Roddy Brett (Universidad del Rosario), Victoria Tin-bor Hui (University of Notre Dame), Vanessa Ortiz (ICNC), Nadine Bloch (direct action trainer), Tom Hastings (Portland State University), Ayed Morar (Palestinian Activist, protagonist of the film “Budrus”), Darko Brkan (Dosta!), Javier Garate (War Resisters International), Mary Joyce (Meta-Activism Project), Mary King (University for Peace)

Yes…a lot of filming, editing, and uploading 🙂

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