Role of “People Power” as Democratic Accelerator Examined in Lawrence University International Studies Address

The power ordinary citizens can generate through mobilization and engagement of their opponents/oppressors and strategies that can fuel democratic reforms will be the focus of the third installment of Lawrence University’s four-part international studies lecture series “Pariah States and Policy Responses.”

Jack DuVall, president and founding director of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict in Washington, D.C., presents “The Right to Rise Up: People Power and the Virtues of Civic Disruption” Wednesday, March 1 at 7 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Countering Osama bin Laden’s assertion that “the walls of oppression and humiliation cannot be demolished except in a rain of bullets,” DuVall will explain how nonviolent, civilian-based strategies — using tactics such as strikes, boycotts, mass protests and civil disobedience — have won human rights and produced better democracies in nations as diverse as the Philippines, South Africa and Ukraine.

In his lecture, DuVall will focus on three key elements present in such struggles: unity among civic groups and activists who want an open and just society; planning, based on targeting the oppressor’s sources of power; and nonviolent discipline, which enables great numbers of ordinary citizens to participate and thus broaden the scope of the conflict.

Those dynamics of nonviolent struggle, according to DuVall, are frequently not seen or understood by most policymakers and media organizations.

“They only notice people power when mass protests occur,” says DuVall. “They invariably act as if every nonviolent campaign erupted spontaneously in the moment.”

The executive producer of the Emmy-nominated PBS series “A Force More Powerful” and co-author of its companion book of the same name, DuVall helped establish the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict in 2002. The ICNC disseminates educational tools and resources on a global basis that assist the development of nonviolent resistance.

Prior to co-founding the ICNC, DuVall spent 16 years as a television executive, producing non-fiction programming for The Learning Channel, Turner Broadcasting, as well as more than 30 other commercial television and non-profit organizations. He previously served as vice president of WETA Television/Radio and director of corporate relations of The University of Chicago.

A graduate of Colgate University, DuVall is a member of the board of sponsors of Atlanta’s Morehouse College and serves as an associate of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development at Massey University in New Zealand.

The series will conclude Tuesday, April 4 when John Merrill, chief of the Northeast Asia Division, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. State Department, discusses North Korea.

The “Pariah States and Policy Responses” lecture series is sponsored by the Mojmir Povolny Lectureship in International Studies. Named in honor of long-time Lawrence government professor Mojmir Povolny, the lectureship promotes interest and discussion on issues of moral significance and ethical dimensions.