What Kind of Nonviolence Training Do You Need?

By Rivera Sun for Campaign Nonviolence

Campaign Nonviolence is often contacted by people who are looking for nonviolence trainings. Frequently, they are not sure what type of training they need, or what the catch-phrases are to describe what they’re looking for. This guide is offered as a resource in identifying which type of nonviolence training supports the needs of each situation. We believe that a culture of active nonviolence will benefit from training all citizens in all of these skills and practices. However, the different types of trainings are distinct and not interchangeable.

Introducing Nonviolence

Participants are introduced to the vision and methods of nonviolence by exploring: the creative power of nonviolence; the dynamics of violence and nonviolence; practices for nonviolent living; tools for communicating nonviolently; and/or the process and effectiveness of principled and strategic nonviolent social change.

When to use it: You’re building community skills for increasing nonviolence, and decreasing violence in your area. You’re educating students, faith groups, or community members about the power of active nonviolence in general. You’re introducing the concept of nonviolence to your community.

Who offers it: Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence, Metta Center for Nonviolence and many more!

Nonviolence Training for Demonstrations, Marches, Rallies, and Street Actions

This type of training teaches participants what to expect at demonstrations and other street actions. It generally covers ways to maintain nonviolent discipline, how to de-escalate potentially tense encounters, how to stay in contact with your group, potential legal risks, role plays on the use of nonviolence and nonviolent responses to violence, and any specific instructions/practices for the particular demonstration or street action you are about to engage in.

When to use this training: You’re going to a mass demonstration, hosting a march or rally, or about to engage in a street action.

Who offers it: Local Peace and Justice Centers, your action organizers, and also these groups: Backbone Campaign, Training For Change.

Nonviolent Direct Action Training

Nonviolent Direct Action Training covers many of the same skills as a training for demonstrations or street actions, but goes much further into the legal risks (which are generally higher), responsibilities to the group, preparation for civil disobedience, roleplays and exercises in consensus decision making, conflict resolution, and quick decision making, a discussion on noncooperation and bail solidarity, and the specific techniques of the nonviolent tactic that will be used, such as blockade or lockdown skills, etc.

When to use this training: a campaign you are part of is planning to do civil disobedience, lock down to a pipeline, blockade a construction site, sit-in at an office, disrupt a meeting, and so on.

Who offers it:  Your action organizers, or the larger organization coordinating the campaign. There are many nationwide groups that offer nonviolent direct action trainings, including Backbone Campaign, Training For Change, Fellowship of Reconciliation and Ruckus Society.

Peace Team, Active Bystander and Nonviolent Intervention Training

In this training, participants learn skills for nonviolently interrupting violence and discrimination, hate, intolerance, intimidation and harassment. They learn de-escalation skills, C-LARA Method, documentation skills, intervention and disruption skills, protective accompaniment, peace team and unarmed peacekeeping skills. Role-playing is often an essential part of the training process.

When to use this training: You see verbal abuse happening on the subway, or in line at the grocery store. You live in an area where discrimination and intolerance is visible and vocal. You are going to a situation where there is likely to be hate crimes, verbal abuse, active discrimination, or tensions around difference that could lead to violent and abusive situations.

Who offers it: Michigan-Meta Peace Team and many more.

Nonviolent Social Change and Nonviolent Actions, Campaigns, Movements

These trainings build skills for changing our communities, our society and our world.  These programs include trainings on: models of successful nonviolent social change; the philosophy, dynamics, history, and effectiveness of nonviolent action and civil resistance, including nonviolent civil disobedience; concrete strategies for building campaigns and movements; and connecting personal, interpersonal and social change.

When to use this training: You want to make change on an issue or problem and you don’t know how to go about it. You’ve heard about this nonviolent action thing, but you don’t know how it works. You’re planning or strategizing for action and you know you could benefit from learning strategy tools and tips.

Who offers it: Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence, Metta Center for Nonviolence, Backbone Campaign, Training For Change

Nonviolent Conflict Transformation

The skills offered in these types of training help us navigate our personal and professional interpersonal conflicts. In these trainings, participants learn compassionate listening, Nonviolent Communication, mediation, restorative justice, conflict resolution, peace circles, and more.

When to use this training: You are looking for better skills for handling the inevitable conflicts that arise in your personal or professional life. Or, perhaps you are the head of a business or organization that is challenged by interpersonal disputes. School departments and youth groups may also benefit from these types of trainings.

Who offers it: Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence, The Center for Nonviolent Communication, River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, Restorative Justice.org, Active Peace

Further Resources:

If you are not able to attend or host a nonviolence training, here are a few online resources that may be helpful in learning more about the particular subject that you’re curious about. There are many more resources available online and a quick Internet search will reveal them. You can also find more resources on our Campaign Nonviolence Resources Page or via our project, The Nonviolence Training Hub.

Introducing Nonviolence

Liberating Nonviolence by Ken Butigan http://www.paceebene.org/wp-content/uploads/07/Liberating-Nonvioence-by-Ken-Butigan1.pdf

Mainstreaming Nonviolence Ken Butigan TedX Talk

Introducing Nonviolence by the Metta Center


Nonviolent Demonstrations and Nonviolent Direct Action:

Act Up’s Direct Action Training Manual


Ruckus Society Action Strategy Guide


Peace Team, Active Bystander and Nonviolent Intervention

Southern Poverty Law Center’s Responding to Everyday Bigotry


5 Ways To Disrupt Racism

This short film from VideoRev offers five practical ways you can help combat racism and be an ally in times when people are under attack.

5 Ways to Disrupt Racism

Racist attacks are on the rise. This short film from VideoRev offers five practical ways you can help combat racism and be an ally in times when people are under attack.

Posted by Films For Action on Thursday, October 20, 2016

Meta Peace Team’s “5 Ways You Can Interrupt Harassment and Intimidation”


From Act Up “Responding to Physical Violence Directed At You Personally


Nonviolent Conflict Transformation:

Restorative Justice.org’s Tutorial


Nonviolent Communication


Nonviolent Social Change

Campaign Nonviolence Resources Pace


Gene Sharp’s “How Nonviolent Struggle Works”


SOA’s “So You’re Ready To Organize?”


War Resisters’ International Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns (Online Version)


Author/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other books, and the Programs Coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence.

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