Under what conditions is political resistance justified? What moral and legal rights and duties are involved? Is non-violence always required or is militant resistance sometimes warranted? What is required for a government’s laws and actions to be “legitimate” and what are the “tipping points” that justify active resistance? How do the notions of equality, the rule of law, and democracy factor into such judgments? We will study examples of non-violent civil disobedience movements (Ghandi, King, etc), but we will also study cases where militant resistance, secession or even revolution were justified. We will examine boycotts, whistleblowing, leaking, jury nullification, vigilantism, and wide array of other forms of political action. Discussions with experienced activists will enable students in this class to explore a series of personal questions. For example, given that positive social change can often take decades, what are reasonable expectations? On the other hand, has the emergence of social media shifted the pace of social change so that we can expect more and sooner? How do activists cope with despair and for what must one always sustain hope? How does one develop the “courage of your convictions?” Students will also have the opportunity to experience non-violent protest training. Overall, this course seeks to help students understand and justify their personal stance on all of these pressing contemporary issues.

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