“The discovery of what Mohandas K. Gandhi called the philosophy and politics of nonviolent direct action is akin in impact and meaning to that of Albert Einstein's discovery of the theory of relativity. Calling his work experiments, over decades Gandhi acted as a social scientist, creating a methodology for constructing a better world by concentrating on the force of social power to create what in the United States was called the beloved community.”

Teaching Nonviolent Direct Action Organizing

“Our ability to put together a better world cannot be achieved by using the methods and tools of those who are pledged to a philosophy of violence, which usually leads to more violence. We cannot accept the culture of our foes, use the language of our adversaries, apply the weapons of our enemy, or behave like those who are traitors to their own humanity — and yet still be able to create something compassionate, ethical, and just.”

Photo: Mike DuBose, United Methodist News Service

Multi-day Institute Sessions

Presenters and faculty teaching the contemporary and historic process, method, and technique of nonviolent resistance. Below you will find programs and images from previous institutes as well as information on the next Institute in Los Angeles. Fill out an application to join us this autumn.

March 15-19, 2018 Nashville, TN

October 26-29, 2017 Los Angeles, CA

2014 Institute 

2013 Institute

Together we will change the world.

From Past Participants…

James Lawson Institute Alumni speak about how their participation deepened their understanding of history and the strategic use of nonviolence in organizing campaigns.

“I have dedicated my life to the cause of race and equality in this country. One of the greatest tools I have gained in this work started within the walls of the James Lawson Institute, the focus on nonviolence and appreciation for diversity has had a life-changing affect over me. I believe that JLI is an opportunity for those who consider themselves Change Agents to gain a deeper understanding of the real work that has to be done to transform the world.”

Jerry Elias Peña
JLI Alumnus

“The James Lawson Institute was an amazing experience that gave me the opportunity to learn invaluable life lessons about movement building and organizing while connecting me with a community and mentors who have supported me in countless ways.”

Katrina L. Rogers
JLI Alumna

“At the James Lawson Institute I learned how to be an Upstander as the strategic nonviolent campaign of the many rather than as the isolated act of one moral individual.  To be an Upstander is to act with moral courage to resist those who seek to demonize or diminish others based on their faith, race, gender, orientation, or birthplace.”

John Steitz
JLI Alumnus

Our Team of Scholars and Activists

Presenters and faculty teaching Dr. Lawsons methods of nonviolent resistance

Rev. Dr. James Lawson

Founder and Convener

Dr. Mary Elizabeth King


Daniel Lee, MSW

Project Manager

Angela Mooney-D’Arcy

Institute Facilitator

Saqib Bhatti


Dr. Cynthia Boaz


Kevin Connor


Philippe Duhamel


Paulina Gonzalez


Molly Gott


Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro


Dr. Tom Hastings


Lester Kurtz


Hardy Merriman


Jamila Raqib


Stephen Zunes


Austin Belali


Marcia Hale


James Hayes


Cristina Jimenez


Carinne Luck


Jeff Ordower



Past presenters and scholars such as Cynthia Boaz, Philippe Duhamel, Jack Duvall, Paulina Gonzalez, Tom Hastings, Mary King, and Hardy Merriman along with the Reverend Dr Lawson himself, and other contributors have been working over the last few months to bring the new iteration of the institute to life. Daniel Wayne Lee (JLIer 2014) is also part of the planning group.  We’d also like to acknowledge our 501c3 sponsor the Liberty Hill Foundation, our advisory partner the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and our financial sponsors the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Stewart Mott Foundation.