2019 Portland Institute

Learning from Historical Cases:

Theory and practice, interactive exercises, current problems, and challenges

April 24-28, 2019 in Portland, OR

As a small nonprofit teaching institute, the Lawson Institute sponsors periodic learning opportunities for individuals who are already involved in contemporary nonviolent struggles in the United States or have purpose and reason to learn its theories and methods.

The forthcoming institute convenes in Portland, Oregon, April 24 – April 28, 2019.

The term “nonviolent action” is one of the many English-language terms coined by Mohandas K. Gandhi that we use today, referring to what he called a method, process, or technique of struggle. The phenomenon of nonviolent struggle goes back to the ancient world and has been found wherever researchers have searched for it. It is not “the opposite of violence.” It uses a form of power that is universal, sometimes called social power, referring to influences and pressures that can be applied by groups to achieve objectives. It is also called “nonviolent direct action”, because it does not rely on officials, agencies, representatives, or standard institutions of government or politics; instead it takes the group action directly to the cause of the distress or oppression.

The Preamble to the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence holds that governments obtain “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” In other words, the people’s power can be withdrawn. Nonviolent struggles seeking justice and relief from oppression have time and again relied on “noncooperation” with the source of the wrong in organizing the withdrawing of cooperation and obedience. Withholding the “consent” cited in the Preamble is often at the core of nonviolent resistance.

The Lawson Institute periodically assembles scholar practitioners, leaders, organizers, and activists who are committed to pursuing their goals through nonviolent action to study and practice together. With Dr. Lawson’s close involvement, JLI is a unique setting where one can learn the history, theories, and practice of nonviolent action, including the basics of strategy, tactics, and method. It is not, however, an educational environment for debating violence and nonviolence. JLI convenings focus on knowledge and effective application of nonviolent civil resistance.