Don’t want to protest? Don’t worry, I have 197 other ideas for you.

Sometimes we want to show our support for a cause, but we don’t know how. Sometimes there are visible ways (like protest marches) of how we could show alliance, but not everyone is able or comfortable in this, and that’s okay. There are lots of other ways, at least 197, that you can show your support for a cause without marching.

In Fall 2020 I will be teaching, for the first time, First Year Seminar. The general theme for FYS at my institution is “ways of knowing”, but it is a course that can be shaped by every professor who teaches it. There are a lot of interesting sessions on any given year, and this year my particular section of the course is called “Yes We Can! The Power of Resistance and Nonviolent Protest”. I developed this theme because this (the study of social movements) is my favorite part to teach about in the community practice class, but I never have as much time as I want to spend on it. So this semester I will be exploring a whole range of non violent protests and other forms of resistance in achieving social change.

When I teach this part of community practice class, one of the resources I have students review and reflect on (in written form) before they come to class is this piece from the Einstein Institute: 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action (available here: https://www.aeinstein.org/nonviolentaction/198-methods-of-nonviolent-action/)

I ask students to review the list and identify any actions that they have done, any that they would do, and any that they most certainly would not do, just to get a sense of the range. I also invite them to ask about any strategies that they have never heard of before, or any that they don’t understand. (In this vein, students often ask about mock funerals and guerilla theatre, so be ready to explain those, at least). This discussion leads us into our discussions on how we show solidarity with people, what does it mean to become an ally, and broader discussions about working for social change while being creative and acting in accordance with your ethics/beliefs. This piece, also from the Einstein Institute, is a good general discussion of what non-violent action is: https://www.aeinstein.org/nonviolentaction/what-is-nonviolent-action/

This would be good for any macro system level class in social work, education, sociology, etc and could also have a place in social science courses across disciplines. I think it would also be an interesting discussion for churches and other faith groups to consider and discuss, since they are already a collective engaged body and can mobilize other faith groups to action.

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