What started as a book and documentary project about non-violent protest in the 20th century has evolved into a series of films, lesson plans, and interactive computer games that help teach students about nonviolence and practice the skills to achieve it. The initial book and documentary project, A Force More Powerful, highlights some of the most influential nonviolent leaders and movements in the past century and the subsequent films, Bringing Down a Dictator, Confronting the Truth, and Orange Revolution, focus further on specific incidents where citizens used nonviolent action to enact change and restore justice after disaster. The computer game, People Power, sets participants in the shoes of a nonviolent leader and inspires them to change the status quo through nonviolent methods:
“People Power is built on nonviolent strategies and tactics used successfully in conflicts around the world. The game simulates nonviolent struggles to win freedom and secure human rights against a variety of adversaries, including dictators, occupiers, corrupt regimes, and to achieve political and human rights for minorities and women. The game models real-world experience, allowing players to devise strategies, apply tactics and see the results.”
These resources are best used with students in High School/University settings. Between the difficult stories covered and the complex legal issues discussed, the subject matter is trickier to approach with younger students; however, it may be possible to adapt some of the stories about nonviolent activists to approach with younger grades. In my mind, there are two ways that this resource could be effective: either as an integrated part of a formal social science class (i.e. history, government, ethics, etc.), or as part of a workshop/training in a non-classroom setting. The videos could be used to make a “movie series” focusing on non-violence, which could be presented in classrooms or in a workshop setting, but in either situations, it would important to leave some time to discuss the movies after the viewing, both to make sure students understand the film, and to give them time to process what they’ve seen. In the event that there is the time/desire to do a more formal and long-term unit on nonviolence, the movies can be combined with the lesson plans provided, and students can play People Power. Incorporating these different multimedia approaches and adding an interactive element can help give students a deeper look into the lives of nonviolent activists and consider what nonviolence really means to them.
These resources embody two pillars of peace education: Reframing History and Transforming Conflict Nonviolently by teaching students about some of the most inspirational parts of modern world history, ones that are not often covered in traditional classes, and providing real-world examples of nonviolence in action that can be discussed, dissected, and followed.
Want to learn more about A Force More Powerful? Short on class time but still want to know what the movie is about? Check out the free study guide for an overview and ideas.