PVE Through Education Event – UNESCO General Conference

As part of the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference, Project SOMEONE Director and UNESCO-PREV co-Chair, Vivek Venkatesh, will be participating in Challenges and Solutions in the Prevention of Violent Extremism Through Education: Promoting Evidence-Based Activities for Youth Resilience and Engagement.

Organized and moderated by UNESCO, this side event will feature interactive debate among experts and practitioners around ‘effective’ PVE-E activities.

For more information, please click here.

Best Practices for Countering Violent Extremism: The Importance of Social Education

By Maxime Bérubé, SSHRC postdoctoral researcher, Project SOMEONE and UNESCO-PREV Chair

The far right, Jihadism, incels, and “sovereign citizens” are some examples of ideologies that can be associated with radicalization and violent extremism. The processes of engagement in violent extremism, known as radicalization leading to violence, are varied, complex and evolving. Indeed, the relative involvement of the various influencing factors associated with them varies in time and space depending on the contexts in which radicalization takes shape. To counter this phenomenon, a significant number of preventive strategies have been developed to avert the potential effects of extremist discourses.

These strategies can be divided into four categories. The first, somewhat more offensive than the other three, involves disrupting distribution networks or censoring extremist speeches to limit their proliferation. The second is to implement counter-speech, most often to undermine the credibility and veracity of particular extremist discourses. As for the third, rather than countering a discourse, it produces alternative ones that correspond to the needs of populations likely to adopt to this discourse. Finally, the fourth category belongs to a social education perspective, in which attempts are made to foster the development of digital literacy and citizenship skills of the general population. Unlike the previous three, the last approach proposes tools to develop transversal knowledge and skills that can easily be applied to prevent different forms of extremism. However, while training more knowledgeable citizens may be more sustainable and these strategies could reap multiple benefits, several questions, including the way in which to implement such strategies, remain unanswered.

My current postdoctoral research with Project SOMEONE focuses on social education and promoting alternative discourses. More specifically, I address various issues for which uncertainties persist. For example, besides skill building, where does education on the ideological and religious character of violent extremism fit in? If we value engaging in public dialogues on sensitive topics such as jihadism or the extreme right, how should we proceed? What aspects should be addressed, and which should be left out? Is it better to censor or control communication spaces that may contribute to radicalization leading to violence? Considering that radicalization processes take place in online and offline environments, how should preventive efforts be divided? Who are the most favorable stakeholders to do this work? Which target audience should we be advising?

To answer these questions, I conduct interviews with people who have already dealt with individuals labelled as “radicalized” or who are likely to adopt radical ideologies. Building on the experience of religious and community representatives, teachers, law enforcement officials, public policy officers, psychologists and social workers, our goal is to identify the best practices to adopt for the development of preventive educational strategies. Radicalization leading to violence is a very complex phenomenon that requires multisectoral prevention approaches. Thus, it is thanks to the pooling of the expertise of each of these stakeholders that the most effective and sustainable methods of education and intervention will emerge.

In future publications, we will discuss some aspects of social education in more detail, and unveil some preliminary results on this study. Meanwhile, I encourage anyone wishing to contribute to this study to contact me by email at the following address:

Vivek Venkatesh Speaking at The Walrus Talks Toronto

Credit : The Walrus Talks

Project SOMEONE Director and UNESCO-PREV co-Chair, Vivek Venkatesh will be a speaker at The Walrus Talks Living Better at Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles Street West, Toronto, on Tuesday October 29, 2019 at 6:30 PM.

The event is part of a national series, each featuring seven key speakers who discuss important and relevant Canadian topics for seven minutes each.

For more information on this event or to purchase tickets, please click here.

New Publication on ISIS’s Primary Science Education Curriculum

Project SOMEONE is proud to announce the publication of “Science Education under a Totalitarian Theocracy: Analyzing the ISIS Primary Curriculum” in Journal of Research in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education.

Co-authored by Patrice Potvin, Marianne Bissonnette, Chirine Chamsine, Marie-Hélène Bruyère, Mohammed Amine Mahhou, Olivier Arvisais, Patrick Charland and Stéphane Cyr of Université du Québec à Montréal, and Project SOMEONE Director Vivek Venkatesh of Concordia University, the article offers an analysis of the primary science curriculum in conjunction with the integration of religious content. The authors conclude that the curriculum reflects an absolutist/theocratic ideological program and recommend changes for the secularization of science teaching in a post ISIS context.

To read the article, please click here.

Special Landscape of Hope Performance October 31, 2019

As part of the 2019 Theology in the City Conference at Concordia University, Landscape of Hope will be participating in a musical and multimedia performance at St-Jax Church on October 31st from 8:00p.m.-9:00p.m.

This year’s free week-long conference hosted by the Department of Theological Studies explores the themes of resilience, hope, suspicion and fear through a multidisciplinary lens.

Landscape of Hope  is a unique intervention that magnifies youth narratives as they pertain to building resilience against racism, discrimination, prejudice and cyber bullying. The digital art initiative is youth-led and designed to empower them with critical digital literacy skills and social media tools to create cutting-edge multimedia performances and installations that describe their experiences with hate and discrimination.

Landscape of Hope has invited Concordia Art Education and Theology students to co-create multimedia material with students from l’École des arts visuels et médiatiques de l’Université du Québec à Montréal for a special theologically themed performance.

Professors Vivek Venkatesh (Concordia) and Martin Lalonde (UQAM), and research assistants Léah Snider (Art Education, Concordia) , Éva Roy (Art Education, Concordia), Dezaye Nair (Media Studies, Concordia), Noémie Naud-Dubé (Création, UQAM) and Julien Gagnon-Rouillard (Création UQAM) will facilitate a digital arts workshop introducing students to theological questions and enabling them to contribute to Landscape of Hope’s growing body of digital materials surrounding the way in which we address the concepts of hate and hope in postmodern society.

For more information on the conference, please click here.

More information about the performance can be found here and Facebook event here.

Landscape of Hate Explainer Video

Landscape of Hate is a multimedia improvisational project founded and designed by Dr. Vivek Venkatesh and Dr. Owen Chapman of Concordia University in 2017, as a public reflection of Project SOMEONE and Grimposium. According to the co-founders, its goal is to magnify the plurality of public voices surrounding the topic of hate and call attention to the flood of media that people face daily. To achieve this, the group collects and curates online media and sounds related to hate and incorporate them into their unique and dynamic live shows.

Landscape of Hate also works with youth and student groups at home and internationally, by engaging in pedagogical activities that provide a framework within which people can explore the concept of hate in both personal and public ways.

To learn more about Landscape of Hate watch the five-minute explainer video above.

Landscape of Hate Debut Album Release

Photo credits: Vivek Venkatesh

Grimposium, Project SOMEONE and Dystopia Productions are excited to announce the release of Landscape of Hate’s debut album, the soundtrack to Blekkmetal, an independent Canadian-Norwegian concert documentary about the one-off music, film, tattoo and art festival held in Bergen, Norway in November 2015.

Released September 13, 2019, and co-produced by Vivek Venkatesh, Owen Chapman and Danji Buck-Moore, this experimental musical and multimedia collective based in Montréal, Canada, recorded the soundtrack over a four-day period this past June.

For more information on Landscape of Hate, including videos and photos of previous performances, please visit their website. You can also listen to the album on Bandcamp, Spotify, Tidal or Apple Music.

Article on Violent Radicalization

Maxime Bérubé,  SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow with Project SOMEONE and Concordia University and co-author, Benjamin Ducol, of the University of Montreal, have recently published “Radicalization in arms? Exploring armed violence capital in the context of Quebec’s civilian military simulation communities,” in the September 2019 edition of Global Crime

Based on a case study of civilians involved in military simulations, the article ultimately suggests that while the use of excessive violence requires ideological motivation, violent radicalisation can occur without it.

To read the article, please click here

New Position to Fill with the UNESCO Chair in Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Extremism (PREV)

The UNESCO Chair in Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Extremism (PREV) is looking for a GENERAL COORDINATOR (RESEARCH PROFESSIONAL). To learn more about the position and the application process, please click here.

Please apply by Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 5 pm the latest.

New MMFA Digital Cultural Mediation Committee


Photo:  Jean-François Brière, MMFA Website

Project SOMEONE Director, Vivek Venkatesh, is participating in a new provincial committee set up by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), dedicated to exploration and innovation in the domain of digital cultural mediation. The committee is comprised of university researchers, technology experts and museology specialists. For more details, please click here.