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.
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.”
The book by Chenoweth and Stephan also won the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award for best book published in the United States on government, politics or international affairs.
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. This year’s awards are $100,000 each.
About Erica Chenoweth
Erica Chenoweth is an assistant professor at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and directs that school’s Program on Terrorism and Insurgency Research.
Previously, she was an assistant professor at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she received the Carol A. Baker Memorial Prize recognizing excellence in junior faculty teaching and research.
Chenoweth also was a fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, and the University of California-Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies.
She holds doctoral and mastr’s degrees in political science from the University of Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in political science and German from the University of Dayton.
About Maria Stephan
Maria J. Stephan is lead foreign affairs officer for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. She is now working to support the Syrian opposition.
Previously, she was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She also worked for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, first directing educational initiatives and later policy and research. She was an adjunct professor at Georgetown and American universities and spent two years as a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
She also has worked with the European/NATO policy office of the U.S. Department of Defense, NATO Headquarters in Brussels and with civil society organizations in Sri Lanka, Russia, Israel and Palestine.
She holds doctoral and master’s degrees from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College.