Harvard University

“The strategic application of nonviolent action”; Harvard Kennedy School of government, Harvard University; Boston, USA. January term; January 6-17 2014;

Instructors: Douglas Johnson, Srdja Popovic and Slobodan Djinovic

Number of students: 7

Short description:

This course brings together theory and practice of strategic nonviolence to evaluate the nature of nonviolent social change. It will analyze historical and contemporary cases of civilian-led struggles, including movements for civil and political rights, struggles against dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, and movements for self-determination against foreign occupations. More specifically, the course will address the following questions:

  • What have been the impacts of nonviolent movements throughout history?
  • What are the main misconceptions concerning nonviolent movements?
  • Why do certain civilian-led struggles succeed while others fail?  
  • What are key tactical and strategic considerations for groups that choose nonviolent struggle?  
  • How do authoritarian regimes respond to civilian-led challenges and how can nonviolent actors be prepared for, and exploit, regime crackdowns?  
  • What role will new media and communication technologies play in the future of strategic nonviolence?

How have external actors (e.g. foreign governments, NGOs, international organizations etc.) influenced movements—positively and negatively?

In addition to providing a theoretical framework on civilian-led resistance movements and an understanding of both successful and unsuccessful nonviolent revolutions, the course will provide students a version of the same trainings that CANVAS use in the field today. Students will get a firsthand look at the practicalities of mapping out nonviolent resistance movements using the three central principles of strategic nonviolence: planning, unity, and nonviolent discipline.


Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education – in addition to existing university programs CANVAS is developing online course in cooperation with HKS Executive Education. Course is another way of cooperation between two institutions and it will be implemented in autumn semester of 2014/15.

This interactive course is balance of lectures, workshops and coaching. The main idea is to support students to implement their campaigns/projects with different approaches where traditional knowledge transfer is supplemented with interaction between lecturer and students (Q and A during lecture, “one on one time” with lecturers) and among students (small group exercises) where they will have opportunity for horizontal learning. Practical assignments (which are to be implemented in the local community by students) and feedback from lecturers are another way to secure implementation of individual campaigns/projects.

The course focuses on the skill development but it actively encourages formation of sense of community between students.  

Course will last for five weeks and it will contain 8 modules and is expected to have three instructors: Srdja Popovic, Slobodan Djinovic and Douglas Johnson.

Canvas has also visited to give talks at Harvard on numerous occassions:

“Europe 2014 – RE GENERATION”; European conference at Harvard, presented by European student Club at Harvard University and the Fletcher school, March 1-2 2014, Boston, USA, Slobodan Djinovic and Srdja Popovic; speech/topic “Demanding Democracy: The Role of Protests and Media”

“Is democracy possible everywhere?”; Center for European Studies, Harvard University , March 3rd 2014, Boston, USA, Srdja Popovic

“Democracy and Social Movements in East Asia”;  Department of Sociology, Harvard University; March 3rd 2014; Boston, USA, Srdja Popovic

“People power as major tool to change world, from Kiev to Caracas?”; Center for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University; Boston, USA; March 5th 2014; Srdja Popovic