Catz alumnus and advocate for nonviolent resistance, Gene Sharp, dies aged 90

We are saddened to share the news of the passing of alumnus Dr Gene Sharp (1961, Social Studies), who died peacefully at his home in Boston, Massachusetts on January 28th, a week after celebrating his 90th birthday.

Widely recognised by scholars, practitioners, organisers, and activists worldwide as the greatest theoretician of nonviolent action since Mohandas K. Gandhi, Sharp founded the field of academic research on the theory and strategic practice of nonviolent action. He also participated in nonviolent action himself and held workshops on nonviolent resistance around the world. He spent nine months in jail after an arrest for protesting military conscription during the Korean War. Sharp was nominated for the Nobel peace prize multiple times, and although he never won it, he recieved many other prizes and awards for his work.

Sharp was born in North Baltimore, Ohio and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ohio State University, as well as having achieved a DPhil at St Catherine’s. In 1965, he became a research associate at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, a position he held for nearly 30 years. He later became rofessor of political science and sociology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. His first book, Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Modern Power: Three Case Histories, was published in 1960.

Sharp is survived by a brother, nieces, nephews, and cousins, and by a large international family of friends and colleagues. His legacy lives on in the Albert Einstein Institution, which he founded in 1983 to advance the study and use of strategic nonviolent action as an alternative to violent conflict. He refused to retire and worked up until his death.

(Photo: Elisa Amendola/The Associated Press)

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