Through regional institutes led by the Reverend James M. Lawson, political scientist Mary Elizabeth King, a seasoned faculty, and experienced facilitators, we engage approximately 40 carefully selected leaders and organizers for hands-on institutes of approximately 5 days. During that time, we examine case studies that make it possible for participants to discern the history, theory, and practice of devising effective campaigns of nonviolent action aimed at 21st century injustices.
The James Lawson Institute (JLI) insists that disciplined nonviolent campaigns are the keys to dismantling widening injustices and forms of oppression for the purposes of creating new, fair, and just ways of life in our nation.
By considering case studies of effectual nonviolent campaigns and drives, we are able to engage our participants in discerning from their own experience the fundamentals of how to devise effective nonviolent action, which can produce tangible results in the current moment. We work to strengthen the participants’ own perceptions and understanding by sharing current research findings, considering innovative breakthroughs, and applying practical participatory applications for what both Gandhi and the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr called the “operative technique” of nonviolent action. The historical crossroads for both the theory and practice of nonviolent civil resistance is Mohandas Gandhi, whose experiments with “satyagraha” in South Africa (1906‒14), and in India (1919‒48), put nonviolent methods on the world political map.
In seeking tangible results from our endeavors, we are preparing nonviolent practitioners with the background and practice opportunities needed to learn how to create wise strategies and sound communications, including language appropriate for what the Reverend Lawson calls the “new emerging society.” The importance of wise planning and preparation cannot be underestimated for the success of nonviolent direct action, so we do as much applied strategic planning as feasible.