How to organise a nonviolent campaign: an activist’s course. (Free!)

How to organise a nonviolent campaign: an activist’s course.

Through a series of six workshops organised over three days on the campus of the University of Kent in Canterbury, this course is designed for activists to learn from active researchers in the field of conflict and social movements about what makes a successful non-violent campaign. The course is aimed at those who are active members of a nonviolent struggle and is thus appropriate at intermediate – advanced levels. Based on two Kent researchers’ work, the field manual of the International Centre of Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), and the training of the Centre for Applied Nonviolence Actions and Strategies (Canvas), the course is designed to weave research insights with practical guidance to plan your movement more effectively. Providing concrete examples and facilitated with activities, the workshops will introduce participants to lessons from previous movements, thinking about strategy and local tactics, and using the Inverse Planning Model to build their campaign.

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Saturday 14 May:

11am-12pm     Dr Margherita Belgioioso ‘How and why civil resistance works’ 

Description: Margherita will explain to the participants what the literature tells us about drivers of success of civil resistance and the effect of radical flanks. She will then present her latest findings on how violent activities stemming from non-violent movements affect the success of the movements. Finally, she will present the findings of her paper on movement momentum: the state of the art work in the study of the ingredients leading to movement success.

12pm-1pm      Lunch

1pm-2pm        Dr Charles Devellennes ‘The yellow vests: successes and failures of a leaderless movement’

Description: Using his research on the yellow vest (gilets jaunes) movement in France (2018-2020), Charles will illustrate important lessons of the movement, notably regarding their calls for economic justice and democratisation. Focusing on the organisation, structure, and debates of the movement, the session will show how the movement identified its key demands and strategy.

Saturday 21 May:

11am-12:30pm            Canvas ‘Planning Forward and planning backwards’

            Plan Format

Planning is essential to effective action; the discipline of investing resources into planning is an essential leadership skill. There are many methods of planning that are often taught as orthodoxy:  first this step, then this step, and so on. Yet, in a contested struggle, planning is an iterative process that both projects where we want to go and subjects the plan to reality checks of the availability of resources, the most precious of which is time. This is the art of both planning forwards and backwards.


  1. Understand the importance of strategic and tactical planning
  2. Produce detailed plans for a future activity or campaign that is to be implemented after the workshop

12:30pm-1pm             Lunch

1pm-2pm                    Planning your campaign

Description: With the help of the two researchers Margherita and Charles, you will apply the morning’s session to the goals of your organisation in preparation for the next week’s session.

Saturday 28 May:

11am-12:30pm            Canvas ‘Using the Inverse Planning Model: feedback’


After understanding the planning format for strategic/tactical planning in a nonviolent struggle, participants will use it to analyse and present a detailed overview of a future strategic approach aimed towards selected pillars of support.

12:30pm-1pm             Lunch

1pm-2pm                    Testimonies: Margherita and Charles supported by students will take video-recorded testimonies from XR participants. We will distribute the participant information sheet and the consent form ahead to the interviews.