The “Community Action Training” programme takes roots in the fact that many young activists in the Eastern Partnership region (and beyond) lack the know-how for designing strategic interventions for transformative processes within their countries. This results in campaigns and advocacy initiatives addressing urgent societal changes in the EaP region to have a weak impact. As a response, the CAT programme offers a step-by-step guide to social transformation based on the principles of nonviolent action and campaigning. Nonviolence is understood here as an instrument for change, as an alternative to violence in dealing with social conflicts and societal challenges. The project focuses less on the understanding of principled (holistic) nonviolence of the Gandhian tradition but primarily on nonviolent techniques for generating social transformation through strategic actions. In this sense, the project understands nonviolence as instrumental for change based on the elements of social construction, interdependence, and collective strategic action based on practice and dialogue.
We understand activists as anyone engaged in a social, environmental, youth, political, cultural actions and/ or initiatives, who acts as individually or within an informal or non-registered group, and who intends to have a significant local or global impact. The programme is not focused on one societal challenge in particular and intends to bring together activists working on a high diversity of issues during the international residential issues, in order for the participants to inspire each other and seek synergies.
The CAT programme combines residential programme parts with distant learning elements, as it aims to make best use of both methods to allow participants to:
1) Explore theory and practices of strategic nonviolence as one approach to social transformation,
2) Learn through activism case studies from a near past and geographical context
3) Apply the newly gained know-how on their own context, groups, actions and campaign
4) Create solidarity linkages among learners, eventually resulting in cooperation and partnerships
With this approach the CAT Programme is hands-on, needs based and practical while drawing from academic theory and practitioner expertise gained in diverse contexts of the world.
The programme is non-ideological in the sense that is purely based in the assumption – and statistical evidence – that nonviolence is more effective than violence to bring about change. Therefore, the participants will not receive any instructions on what to strive for, what to change in which direction, but be introduced to practical theories and successful practices that aid the design of strategic intervention for social transformation.