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Pair win world order prize for civil resistance study

by UofL Today last modified Nov 26, 2012 10:56 PM

Non-violent resistance brings about political change much more effectively than the use of violence, say two scholars who have won the 2013 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.

Pair win world order prize for civil resistance study

Erica Chenoweth, left, and Maria Stephan, right.

Erica Chenoweth, an assistant professor at the University of Denver, and Maria Stephan, a lead foreign affairs officer with the U.S. State Department, earned the prize for the ideas set forth in their book, “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Non-Violent Conflict.” Columbia University Press published the book in 2011.

Chenoweth and Stephan collected and analyzed data on all known uprisings between 1900 and 2006 involving more than 1,000 people that related to a country’s secession, overthrow of a dictatorship or removal of a foreign occupation. They learned that the non-violent campaigns succeeded twice as often as the violent ones — even in the face of brutal repression.

They also found that the governments of countries where the peaceful resistance took place were far more likely to become or remain stable democracies afterward.

In the non-violent campaigns they studied, unarmed civilians used a mix of strikes, boycotts, protests and demonstrations, while bombings, assassinations and armed attacks were predominant among the violent movements.

“The implications of their work are enormous,” said award director Charles Ziegler. “Not only do their findings validate the work done by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., but they shed new light on the political change we’re seeing today, such as the Arab Spring process in Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations.”

Chenoweth, who works in the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, directs that school’s Program on Terrorism and Insurgency Research. Previously, she was an assistant professor at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Stephan, who now works to support the Syrian opposition, previously was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Before that, she worked with the European/NATO policy office of the U.S. Department of Defense and NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

UofL presents four Grawemeyer Awards each year for outstanding works in music composition, world order, psychology and education. The university and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary jointly give a fifth award in religion. The 2013 awards are $100,000 each. This week, UofL will announce award recipients in this order: Wednesday, psychology; Thursday, education; and Friday, religion. Music was announced Monday.

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