Inaugurated September, 2011, at Swarthmore College, under the direction of scholar and professor George Lakey, the Global Nonviolent Action Database is a valuable resource providing free access to information about hundreds of cases of nonviolent action for learning and citizen action.
Each campaign is shown in two ways: a searchable database using fields and coded assessments of degree of success, and a 2-4 page narrative detailing the play-by-play interaction of the campaign with its opponents. The database supports searches by country, by issue, by action method used, and even by year. The topics of the campaigns are grouped in six clusters: human rights; democracy; economic justice; environment; peace; and national/ethnic identity.
The goal of the Database is to make available comparative information that will support researchers and writers to develop strategic knowledge and theory. Strategists, activist organizers, scholars, and teachers will find many uses for the database, as well as citizens wanting to expand their horizons. Journalists and bloggers will find easy access for contextualizing stories of contemporary protests they are reporting. Up until now many observers write about breaking news with a tone of surprise; coverage of the Egyptian events of early 2011 included wonderment and an assumption of protester spontaneity that showed ignorance of the developing craft of nonviolent struggle. Even a short time with the database reveals a multiplicity of connections among cases, through a shared “wave,” shared methods, shared influences, and shared time periods. Activist organizers and strategists can use the database to expand the repertoire of options for nonviolent campaigns. By exploring the use of 198+ methods of action, campaigners may become more creative and proactive than they otherwise might be. They may also calculate more carefully in relation to resources and goals, and craft a more winnable campaign than they otherwise would do.