News

Project Someone in Lebanon

We are thrilled to be teaming up with the teachers of Heritage School in Beirut, both to celebrate the female teachers who are raising Lebanon’s future generations and to build resilience against hate speech and radicalization in Lebanese schools.

Click here for more information

Photo credit: Vahan Saghdejian

 

Project Someone at the University of Calgary

Project Someone’s director and UNESCO Co-Chair for the Prevention of Radicalisation & Violent Extremism, Vivek Venkatesh, presented a piece titled “Necrophilic Empathy in La Numancia: An Urgent Reading” at the 2018 Cervantes Society of America Conference, hosted by The University of Calgary. Other Project Someone members also participated at the conference: Jason Wallin, professor at the University of Alberta, and Brad Nelson, professor at Concordia University.

 

Left to right: Jason Wallin, Brad Nelson and Vivek Venkatesh

 

 

 

 

Vivek Venkatesh at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York

 

Project Someone’s Director and UNESCO Co-Chair for the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism, Vivek Venkatesh, participated in the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York earlier this week. The High-Level Round Table event was titled “The Power of Education for Countering Racism and Discrimination: The Case of Anti-Semitism”.

 

 

Landscape of Hate performing at AoIR 2018 event

 
 
 
 
 
 
Landscape of Hate will be performing at O Patro Vys on October 12th, 2018 at the Association of Internet Researchers’ event, which is part of their annual conference. Hard Red Spring and DJ Ouroboros will be performing at the event as well.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Welcome, Danny Mamlok PhD

Dr. Danny Mamlok recently joined Project Someone at Concordia University as part of his postdoctoral 

fellowship. Danny will be working with Dr. Sandra Chang-Kredl from the Department of Education and Dr. Vivek Venkatesh, the director of Project Someone from the Department of Art Education. The primary focus of the postdoctoral project is to develop better understanding of the relationship between children and social media, in light of hate speech.

Danny holds a PhD in Educational Leadership, Culture, and Curriculum from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In his dissertation, Digital Technology and Education in the Age of Globalization, he explored social and cultural aspects of integrating technology and education, and specifically dealt with questions regarding democracy, education, and citizenship. The study examined how teachers’ understanding of digital tools, and teachers’ practices in the classroom, advance or resist democratic values. He has presented at national conferences, such as American Education Research Society (AERA) and Philosophy of Education Society (PES). In the current project, Danny wishes to move beyond critical examination and to develop curriculum practices for teachers, parents, and students to enhance their critical and cognized understanding of digital and virtual worlds.

As an interdisciplinary scholar, his research interests are varied, and include technology and education, sociocultural theories, critical pedagogy, democracy and education, aesthetic education, and qualitative research methodologies. His interdisciplinary approach will guide the research project.

Beyond academic life, Danny plays the classical guitar, and has a great interest in classical and Jazz music.

 

 

Exposure to Extremist Online Content Could Lead to Violent Radicalization

Exposure to Extremist Online Content Could Lead to Violent Radicalization: A Systematic Review of Empirical Evidence is the title of a recently published article in the International Journal of Developmental Science which was written by 11 authors, among whom are two of the UNESCO co-Chairs for the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism, Ghayda Hassan (first author) and Project Someone’s director, Vivek Venkatesh.

 

Click here to read the full article

Op-ed: Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Canada

Earlier this summer, we posted a link to a Le Devoir article written by Vivek Venkatesh, Project Someone’s director who argues that we need to use publicly-available data to inform our understanding of the terrorism threat to Canadians. This is the English version of the article: 

Public and policy debates presently abound regarding whether the definition of terrorism should be expanded beyond acts that are motivated by political, religious or other ideological frameworks and be inclusive of both state and non-state actors. Closely linked to this discussion is the question of how people perceive which group poses the most imminent terrorist threat to Canadian residents. The federal government has singled out violent extremists, more specifically followers of the so-called Islamic State or Daesh, as the principal terrorist threat facing Canadians. But a closer examination of publicly available evidence puts this in doubt, instead suggesting a threat that lies closer to home.

In 2016 and 2017 reports on the Terrorist Threat to Canada, Public Safety Canada points to Daesh as a terrorist group that needs to be specifically countered. Explicit mention is made – in the 2016 report – of the incidents in October of 2014 within Canada involving two lone-actors – inspired by Daesh – who each killed a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. What is more, data on fatalities, presented in the Global Terrorism Index appears to point the finger at Daesh as being the most imminent threat around the globe. But is this true in the Canadian context? The 2017 report from Public Safety mentions the rise of right-wing extremism and points to the January 2017 mosque attack in Quebec City. How serious is this threat? Let’s drill down on some of the evidence available to us.

The Global Terrorism Index, an annual report published by the Institute for Economics and Peace, details a variety of patterns in terrorist activities across the globe. The 2017 edition places Canada 66th amongst 163 nations, with a rating of 2.96 out of a possible 10. For the purposes of comparison, Iraq is the top ranked country with a rating of 10 whereas the United States of America is 32nd with a rating of 5.43. The Index points out that between 1970 and 2016, countries who are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (excluding Israel and Turkey) have seen more than 9,600 deaths from terrorism. While Daesh is responsible in most recent years for more than 4.7% of these deaths, the Index urges readers to put into perspective that Al’Qaida – who are responsible for 31% of the deaths – are almost exclusively represented by the September 11 attacks. It also highlights how Irish and Basque separatist groups together have historically been responsible for 26% of terrorist-related deaths.

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick La Presse canadienne

 

Most interestingly, the Index reports that Canada’s rating has been increasing steadily since 2012 when it was at 1.51 but the explanation bears closer scrutiny. This is because the Index also points to the fact that between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2017, more terrorism-related deaths in Canada resulted from attacks perpetrated by groups or individuals other than Daesh.

Closer scrutiny of the Index left me with a new set of questions:

What (or who) exactly do these casualty figures represent?

Who is committing these attacks in Canada?

How often have these incidents been perpetrated by different types of terrorist organisations?

To answer these questions, I used a second source which employs the same methodology used in the Global Terrorism Index, thereby allowing for cross-referencing. The Canadian Incident Database provides information on Canadian terrorism and violent extremism incidents including assassinations, bombings, hijackings and unarmed assaults. The database relies on the Canadian Criminal Code (1985, section 83.01) and specifies intent, the existence of some level of violence as well as the exclusion of state actors in its definition of terrorism. It is worthwhile noting that for the purposes of the database, terrorism has a more restrictive definition than violent extremism and specific incidents may be coded as both. This database is maintained by the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS), and it draws on information that is publicly available.   

Using the database’s unique interactive classification tools, we are able to note the following: since 2000, 209 incidents resulted in 22 deaths and 104 injuries on Canadian soil. Dramatic numbers, yes. But when classifying these incidents by those committed by individuals or organisations with religious motives, only 13 incidents have yielded 2 deaths and 5 injuries in Canada.

When one classifies these incidents by organisations that identify with supremacist movements, the numbers are significant: 57 separate incidents have yielded 15 fatalities and 55 injuries.

This database doesn’t include incidents from 2016 or 2017 such as the attack perpetrated in a Quebec City mosque in January of 2017 that killed 6 people and wounded another 19. Nor does the database account for the incident in September of 2017 in Edmonton which injured five people.

The data indicates that in Canada between 2000 and 2015, religiously-motivated terrorist and violent extremist incidents (Daesh, Daesh-inspired, Al-Qaida, Al-Shabab or otherwise) have led to 7.5 times fewer fatalities than those propagated by supremacist organisations. When including the Quebec City attacks this factor rises to 10.

This is not the first time significant divergences have been reported between such incidents in North America perpetrated by religiously-motivated organisations or individuals and those that are supremacist in orientation.

In summer 2017, the Center for Investigative Reporting published a report describing how, between 2008 and 2016, right-wing domestic terror incidents were almost double in number (115) compared to Islamist-inspired incidents (63) in the United States. A closer examination of the political, social, cultural, economic and legal conditions across the Canadian and American contexts is most definitely warranted before comparing contextualized data about these incidences.

But for the moment, it’s fair to say that while terrorism poses a threat to the Canadian public, it’s important to emphasise that Daesh or Islamist-inspired ideologies are not necessarily the most imminent threat.

 

Vivek Venkatesh

Turning online hate on its head using empathy, understanding and resilience

Project SOMEONE in a nutshell:

  • 44,000+ views on the SOMEONE website since its launch in 2016.
  • 12,000+ users from 136 countries (80% from Canada, USA and UK).
  • 11,300+ attendees at public events held over 3 continents.
  • 11 adaptable educational projects as well as a variety of activities conducted across North America, parts of Europe and the Middle East.

Since its creation at Concordia University in 2014, Project SOMEONE (SOcial Media EducatiON Everyday) and partners have participated in many ongoing activities at local, national and international levels. 

Between 2015 and July 2018, Project Someone teams presented 64 activities within the province of Quebec and 22 activities in other Canadian provinces, involving over 4300 people in audience. Reaching an additional audience of approximately 7000 individuals beyond national borders, Project Someone also took part in 25 international activities in the US, Europe and Asia. Overall, Project Someone has been involved with more than 11,300 individuals from a variety of backgrounds.

 

In collaboration with partners that include (but are not limited to) schools and school boards, local and international organizations, NGOs, governmental organizations, human right groups and different universities, SOMEONE maintains an active public presence to offer policy makers and members of the broader public different strategies to develop critical thinking and informed literacy skills to negotiate events of hate speech encountered in online and offline spaces. In total, Project Someone trained over 4000 youth, educators, community leaders and policy officials across Canada and 1500 internationally (Oslo, Bergen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Brussels, Bonn and around the USA). 

 

With its 11 projects developed by collaborative research practitioners, Project Someone also offers to educational institutions a variety of curricular activities meant to open dialogue on hate speech. While doing so, SOMEONE tailors those projects to best suit the needs of the community with which it works.

 

Exciting News: Winners at The Emerald Global Literati Awards

 

 

 

“Second wave true Norwegian black metal: an ideologically evil music scene?”, an article on the Norwegian black metal scene by Jason Wallin, Jeff Podoshen, and Project Someone’s Vivek Venkatesh, was selected by the editorial team as Highly Commended at the 2018 Emerald Global Literati Awards. Please click here for more info and the full article.  

 

From left to right: Vivek Venkatesh, Jeff Podoshen and Jason Wallin

Photo: David Hall

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Project with the UNESCO Co-Chairs for the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism

 

 

The co-Chairs for the Prevention of Radicalization and Violent Extremism, David Morin from Université de Sherbrooke, Ghayda Hassan from UQAM, and Vivek Venkatesh​ from Concordia University, are filming for a new project in Montreal on July 4th. Stay tuned for more news.

 

Photo: Kathryn Urbaniak