Nonviolent Action Lab

Understanding how nonviolent action can achieve democratic aims.

Nonviolent resistance movements defended democratic values and institutions throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. However, the trend seems to have shifted. Over the past decade, authoritarian backsliding has occurred across the globe, and mass movements demanding democracy have been defeated in about 90% of cases since 2010.

The Nonviolent Action Lab is an innovation hub for activists, researchers, and supporters who share common goals around defending and advancing democracy worldwide through civil resistance — protests, demonstrations, and other actions. The Lab produces and disseminates up-to-date knowledge on nonviolent action, how it works, and global trends in success and failure.

“Authoritarianism is winning — particularly against pro-democracy movements. Movements need a new playbook for responding to these developments

Erica Chenoweth

Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment

Now Streaming: Nonviolent Action Lab Podcast

The new Nonviolent Action Lab Podcast brings you the latest research, insights, and ideas on how nonviolent action can — or sometimes fails — to transform injustice. Each week, Nonviolent Action Lab’s Jay Ulfelder welcomes experts from the field, scholars, organizers, and advocates to discuss nonviolent movements around the world. Find new episodes listed below, via Simplecast, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Listen Now

Meet the Team


Erica Chenoweth

Erica Chenoweth

Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment

Freddy Guevara

Freddy Guevara

Research Assistant, Nonviolent Action Lab;
MC/MPA 2024;
Ford Foundation Mason Program Scholarship in Democracy Recipient

Soha Hammam
Headshot of Soha Hammam

Soha Hammam

Nonviolent Action Lab Research Associate and Democracy Visiting Fellow, AY2023-2024

Shady ElGhazaly Harb

Research Assistant, Nonviolent Action Lab;
MC/MPA 2023

Gal Jaacobi

Research Assistant, Nonviolent Action Lab;
MC/MPA 2023

Jay Ulfelder

Jay Ulfelder

Research Project Manager, Nonviolent Action Lab

Upcoming Events


Ash Center Open House

Ash Center Open House

In-Person Event

Ash Center Foyer, Suite 200, 124 Mount Auburn Street
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm EDT

Photo of Gloria Ayee hugging another event goer.

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Crowd Counting Consortium: Three Things the Pro-Palestine Movement Is Not

Commentary

Crowd Counting Consortium: Three Things the Pro-Palestine Movement Is Not

New Crowd Counting Consortium analysis from Nonviolent Action Lab Program Director Jay Ulfelder sets the record straight on arrests numbers and claims of violence stemming from protests sparked by the war in Gaza.

Episode Two: 1,300 Days of BLM Demonstrations in Wooster, Ohio

Podcast

Episode Two: 1,300 Days of BLM Demonstrations in Wooster, Ohio

In the second episode of the Nonviolent Action Lab Podcast, Désirée Weber describes what 1,300 days of protest and political pressure looked like in Wooster, Ohio in 2020

Episode One: Meet the Nonviolent Action Lab

Podcast

Episode One: Meet the Nonviolent Action Lab

Host Jay Ulfelder sits down with Professor Erica Chenoweth for the first episode in the new podcast series.

Confronting Dictators: Lessons from Egypt, Russia, and Venezuela
Shady ElGhazaly Harb sits at a table speaking to a seated audience

Video

Confronting Dictators: Lessons from Egypt, Russia, and Venezuela

Panelists from the Nonviolent Action Lab discuss their experiences, lessons learned, and perspectives on their respective struggles, nations, and roles have evolved during their time at Harvard.

The latest nonviolent action research and events in your inbox.

Crowd Counting blog: Israel/Palestine Protest Data Dashboards
Photo of a map of the US with green dots throughout the map that indicate places where protests occur, and where they occur more frequently (as indicated by bigger dots that are darker green).

Commentary

Crowd Counting blog: Israel/Palestine Protest Data Dashboards

To make it easier to find up-to-date information on pro-Palestine and pro-Israel protest activity in the United States since October 7, 2023, the Crowd Counting Consotium recently created a pair of interactive data dashboards separately covering the two.

Crowd Counting Consortium – Data on Pro-Israeli and Pro-Palestinian Protests in the U.S.
The image reads

Video

Crowd Counting Consortium – Data on Pro-Israeli and Pro-Palestinian Protests in the U.S.

On Tuesday, December 5th, 2023, experts from the Crowd Counting Consortium, a network of researchers tracking political demonstrations across the U.S., shared their most recent data on the multitude of pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian protests held nationwide since October 7.

Crowd Counting Blog: Update on Israel/Palestine Protests
Two different graphs that show the different daily Pro-Palestinian protests based on the number of events and amount of participants

Commentary

Crowd Counting Blog: Update on Israel/Palestine Protests

Since October 7, the Crowd Counting Consortium (CCC) has recorded nearly 2,300 U.S. protests, rallies, marches, caravans, demonstrations, vigils, banner drops, and direct actions in support of Palestine or Israel, with hundreds of thousands of total participants on different sides of this mass mobilization.

Crowd Counting Blog: Pro-Palestine Wave Persists and Grows

Commentary

Crowd Counting Blog: Pro-Palestine Wave Persists and Grows

Over the past few weeks, the burst of pro-Palestine protests, rallies, demonstrations, vigils, and direct actions in the U.S. that followed Hamas’ October 7th attacks on Israel and Israel’s military response to them has swelled into a sustained wave that is almost certainly broader and larger than any previous pro-Palestine protest wave in U.S. history.

Crowd Counting Blog: Pro-Palestine Wave Accelerates
Graph of the daily counts of US pro-Palestine demonstrations based on whether there were specific mentions to genocide

Commentary

Crowd Counting Blog: Pro-Palestine Wave Accelerates

Over the past 10 days, the wave of U.S. street activism supporting Palestine has accelerated. Since October 7, 2023, when Palestinian militants launched attacks on Israel that killed more than 1,400 people, CCC has logged 420 pro-Palestine rallies, protests, demonstrations, and vigils in more than 180 different cities and towns across 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.