From Dictatorship to Democracy

One of the world's leading thinkers and activists for advancing democratic governance through non-violent action is Gene Sharp. He founded the Albert Einstein Institute and is a multiple-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as recipient of many other notable awards. He has authored many books, but one of his most influential and most widely translated books, as well as one of the most widely referred to books by non-violent activists, is "From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation" (1993, original). Famously, the book includes a list of 198 methods of non-violent action.

Sharp writes in the preface to the book that "the focus of this essay [it was originally written as a series for activists] is on the generic problem of how to destroy a dictatorship and to prevent the rise of a new one" (p. xix). At the outset, the author makes clear that in most instances of dictatorship, violent action will not work: "Whatever the merits of the violent option, however, one point is clear. By placing confidence in violent means, one has chosen the very type of struggle with which the oppressors nearly always have superiority" (p. 6). The alternative advocated by Sharp is non-violent action.

How? Quite succinctly, the author summarizes (p. 12): "When one wants to bring down a dictatorship most effectively and with the least cost then one has four immediate tasks:

  • One must strengthen the oppressed population themselves in their determination, self-confidence, and resistance skills;
  • One must strengthen the independent social groups and institutions of the oppressed people;
  • One must create a powerful internal resistance force;
  • One must develop a wise grand strategic plan for liberation and implement it skillfully."

Navigating the actions and reactions of a dictatorial government and its supporters requires close monitoring and analysis. Sharp does not delve into the academics of the matter, and summarizes the key factors relating to success as: "(1) the relative desire of the populace to impose limits on the government's power; (2) the relative strength of the subjects' independent organizations and institutions to withdraw collectively the sources of power; and (3) the population's relative ability to withhold their consent and assistance" (p. 33).

The book is not all positivity and encouragement. There are strong warnings about the costs as well as the responsibilities involved. For example, even "when the oppressive system was brought down, lack of planning on how to handle the transition to a democratic system has contributed to the emergence of a new dictatorship" (p. 61). In other words, all the action and all the costs can re-create the system that was fought against if long term, strategic planning is not a part of the struggle. Furthermore, Sharp emphasizes not just the planning of power, but the re-distribution of it: "The effect of nonviolent struggle is not only to weaken and remove dictators but also to empower the oppressed. This technique enables people who formerly felt themselves to be only pawns or victims to wield power directly in order to gain by their own efforts greater freedom and justice… One important long-term beneficial consequence of the use of nonviolent struggle for establishing democratic government is that the society will be more capable of dealing with continuing and future problems… The population experienced in the use of political defiance is less likely to be vulnerable to future dictatorships." (p. 121-122).
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Post-doc: Population Data

Population Data BC is seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow or Research Associate for a two-year term, with possibility for extension, to take significant leadership in a timely applied research project that will engage with the public to reform governance of access to research resources. Developments in data, technology, researcher desires, and public expectations have outpaced the outdated data access arrangements currently in use, and this program of research aims to address this issue while enhancing the legitimacy of policies for accessing new and complex linked data through consultation with a deliberatively engaged public. Objectives of this project include understanding how a deliberatively engaged public assesses and advises regarding criteria for the use of data and biospecimens, and the design and proposal of a model of sustained public involvement in data access governance in collaboration with data stewards.

Operating primarily within the School of Population and Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, Population Data BC is a multi-university, data and education resource facilitating secure research access to individual-level, de-identified longitudinal data on British Columbia's 4.6 million residents, linking data across various sectors such as health, education, early childhood development, workplace and the environment

Key objectives of Population Data BC are to:

  1. Make more data sets available for research
  2. Facilitate cross-linkages among the data sets in a privacy sensitive manner
  3. Provide strategic leadership to ensure streamlined researcher access to these data
  4. Provide educational and other opportunities to ensure full and best use of those data

The primary activities of the Postdoctoral Fellow or Research Associate include:

  • Provide overall project leadership for a public engagement research project as outlined in a funded CIHR grant
  • Work with the investigative team and project stakeholders on framing questions and other planning aspects of public engagement
  • Lead event planning and production of materials for public engagement
  • Analyse transcripts and other information gathered during the public engagement event
  • Prepare academic material and knowledge translation material based on these analyses
  • Assess ability of PopData to embed public engagement in its ongoing work

More details.​

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Funded PhD: Northern Food Systems

Lakehead University, in partnership with the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and the Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE) project, is looking for an exceptional candidate to undertake PhD research on issues of northern food systems sustainability. We are offering funding of $10,000/year for four years (providing satisfactory performance). Additional funding may be available through a Graduate Assistant position and/or scholarships, as determined by the admitting program. Given the scope and potential impacts of northern food systems, it is particularly critical to understand their dynamics as they emerge and evolve in response to their surroundings within a context geared primarily toward the dominant agri-industrial system. Issues of focus may include, northern food policy, diverse governance systems, alternative food networks, Indigenous food sovereignty, regional agricultural and land-based identity, and harvesting, forest and freshwater foods. Familiarity with and/or interest in complex adaptive systems theory would be considered an asset. The successful Ph.D. candidate will be expected to actively work toward establishing a strong publication record, assist in seeking external funding, and work effectively in the multi-disciplinary field of northern food systems sustainability including stakeholder/community partners.

To apply for this position, please send a letter of interest, a CV, transcripts and the names of two references via email to Charles Levkoe by no later than December 1, 2016. Candidates will also need to apply (by the appropriate deadline) to undertake their PhD in either Forestry Sciences or Psychological Sciences at Lakehead University. The student will support ongoing research on northern food systems and research from the Food Security Research Network starting in September 2017.

For more information on the potential supervisors:

Charles Z Levkoe https://www.lakeheadu.ca/users/L/clevkoe

Rebecca Schiff https://www.lakeheadu.ca/users/S/rschiff

Connie Nelson https://www.lakeheadu.ca/users/N/cnelson

Mirella Stroink https://www.lakeheadu.ca/users/S/mstroink

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Post-doc: International Studies

University of Denver Post-Doctoral Fellow - Korbel School of International Studies: The Sié Center is a center of excellence within the Josef Korbel School that leads research, education and policy programs focused on global peace and security. Eight faculty, visiting and post-doctoral scholars, and over 40 Korbel MA and PhD students contribute to the Center's activities. While at the Sié Center, post-doctoral fellows have opportunities to work with Center faculty and graduate students, engage with relevant policy practitioners, and receive clerical and research/travel support sufficient to allow the completion of a major research product. Fellows will be expected to attend and contribute to a seminar series and engage with other program initiatives including conferences, commentary, and publications.

Position Summary: The Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies has openings in its post-doctoral fellows program, dependent on funding. We will accept applications from candidates who specialize in global peace and security (broadly construed) but are particularly interested in those doing policy relevant research on the effects of inclusion on violence, peace-building, and governance. Fellows will engage in their own research, participate in center activities, and have opportunities to contribute to collaborative research designed to inform (and be informed by) contemporary policy concerns and strategies. The Fellowship will begin September 1, 2017. Post-doctoral fellows will spend one academic year at the Sié Center.

Candidates must apply online through www.du.edu/jobs to be considered. Only applications submitted online will be accepted. Once within the job description online, please click New Resume/CV at the bottom of the page to begin application. The fellowship carries an annual stipend of $42,000, access to additional professional development, travel, $3,000 in research support, and a comprehensive benefits package.

Please include the following documents with your application:
  1. Letter of application
  2. Curriculum vitae
  3. Writing sample
  4. Two letters of recommendation 

Send directly to Jill Schmieder Hereau.

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Logan Cochrane

logan.cochrane@gmail.com

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