News

Vivek Venkatesh and Fellow UNESCO-PREV Co-Chairs Join CEFIR in a New Research Project

Project Someone Director and co-Chair of the UNESCO Chair in Prevention of Radicalization and Violent Extremism, Vivek Venkatesh, and his fellow Chair colleagues will join researchers from Cégep Édouard-Montpetit’s Centre d’expertise et de formation sur les intégrismes religieux, les ideologies politiques et la radicalisation (CEFIR) on a new project that focuses on religious practice in Cegeps.

Titled “La pratique religieuse dans les cégeps : nouvelles avenues pour une meilleure integration” [Religious Practice in CEGEPs: new avenues for better integration], the project is the beneficiary of a $360,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) College and Community Innovation Program.

According to CEFIR, “The project starts from the premise that, although college environments are open and inclusive integration is part of the network’s core values, there remains a discomfort around religious practices. So, while most students and staff are non-believers, there is still a significant portion of students for whom faith is central. The debates around secularism, immigration, and identity have created tension around the religious issue in a context where the majority of young people have limited religious knowledge, thus accentuating misunderstandings. CEFIR, therefore, aims to find new ways to defuse this tension by disseminating knowledge about different religions and creating spaces for discussion around religious issues. Educational activities, a specially dedicated week, and a student conference on religion are all in the planning stages.”

Vivek Venkatesh and the UNESCO-PREV team’s role will be to evaluate educational materials in the prevention of radicalization and violent extremism during this 3-year project (2020-2023).

To read more about this project, please click here.

Project Someone Part of 70K McGill Grant to Study Sociocultural Diversity, Health Communication, and COVID-19

Image: Alissa Eckert, CDC; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Project Someone is pleased to announce that our Director, Vivek Venkatesh, is part of an inter-university multidisciplinary team to be awarded a $70k grant from the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4). 

The project, titled “Sociocultural diversity, health communication, and COVID-19,” is led by McGill University’s Cécile Rousseau, MD., who is also a full member of Concordia University’s Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance (CSLP) and Project Someone collaborator. The Co-applicants include Vivek Venkatesh (Director of Project Someone and Concordia University’s CSLP), Jude Mary Cénat (UOttawa), Diana Miconi (McGill), Annie Jaimes (McGill), Rochelle Frounfelker (McGill), Christina Greenaway (McGill), Janet Cleveland (McGill), and Jill Hanley (SHERPA-RAPS). 

The project starts from the premise that society’s perception of people affects how they react in a crisis and that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to countries worldwide adopting measures such as social distancing, the closing of schools and businesses, and limited access to public spaces. Psychiatrist Dr. Cécile Rousseau, along with collaborators from Concordia University and the University of Ottawa, “will conduct surveys and interviews with 4,000 Quebecers to understand how minority status, low socioeconomic status, discrimination/stigmatization, and mental health affect understanding and adoption of COVID-19 public health measures.” 

The goal of the project is to determine best practices for communicating about COVID-19 with different social groups.

The Project Someone team’s role will be handling aspects of the proposed survey design, its implementation, and communication of results to the broader public. 

The project will run from May 1, 2020, to October 31, 2020.

To see the announcement on McGill’s website, please click here.

Scholarly Islamophobia and the Media

In the following article, Project Someone collaborator, Jihène Hichri (pictured above), explains a new project on scholarly islamophobia and the media.

By Jihène Hichri

Islamophobia is a polysemic notion and the subject of debate but remains a social reality. Some argue that it represents a form of hostility towards Islam and Muslims. Others view it as a semantic manipulation aimed at passing off any criticism of Islam and all Muslims as anti-Islam and anti-Muslim racism. The notion of Islamophobia has been invoked by “religious extremists” to outlaw any criticism of Islam and Muslims, thereby limiting freedom of expression as a fundamental right. While democracies must support constructive debate and criticism in order to combat the use of religion to legitimize systems of oppression, it is essential to recognize that Islamophobia is indeed a social reality.

This reality is embodied in speeches and is part of experiences expressing hostility towards Islam and Muslims. It manifests itself not only in hate speech, discrimination, and exclusion but also in hate crimes resulting from a paranoid representation of Islam and Muslims. Islamophobia is, as Mekki-Berrada emphasizes, a form of “governmentality of Muslim otherness” that seeks to normalize, institutionalize and invade social, economic, and political life. However, in their writings and the name of a dubious erudite culture, “experts” in the human and social sciences or “scholarly” intellectuals transmit a discourse that implies or affirms that Islam and Muslims are unfit for science and that their values ​​are incompatible with Western values of freedom and civilization. These intellectuals are trying to legitimize their discourse through an abusive generalization of the backward practices of specific political and religious systems in certain Muslim societies. Notably, the oppression of Muslim women trapped in a patriarchal system that dictates a particular way of life and requires the wearing of the veil. Some media personalities echo these opinions while struggling to maintain a semblance of neutrality. It is through the spectacular media coverage of several events associated with Islamic fundamentalism that this type of opinion finds legitimacy and influences public opinion. It is necessary to question the challenges of the discourses conveyed by these actors. Notably, the place that “scholarly Islamophobia” occupies in traditional daily newspapers and the media’s portrayal of people who define themselves as Muslims. As part of a research project in partnership with the University of Laval, Project SOMEONE, and other universities and research centers in Quebec, Belgium, France, and Portugal, we are analyzing several scholarly and media texts to better understand “scholarly and media Islamophobia” and its challenges.

As a member of the research team, I focus on the analysis of more than 1,500 articles written by individual columnists and editorialists of the leading traditional daily online newspapers (QTEL) between 2010 and 2020. The method is a mixed approach combining linguistic corpus analysis and corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis (CACDA), as adopted by Venkatesh et al. (2016). The goal is to determine if the most read and active QTEL columnists and editorialists in Quebec relay Islamophobic themes and how they do this. Next, to analyze Islamophobic discursive strategies, as well as the mechanisms by which these are developed, disseminated, and received by QTEL readers.

The project is still underway, but readers can explore the preliminary results of this research in upcoming publications.

UNESCO and Concordia University Media Coverage of the “From Hate to Hope” MOOC Launch

Don’t miss UNESCO’s coverage of Project Someone and the UNESCO Chair in Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism’s launch of ‘From Hate to Hope: Building Understanding and Resilience,’ a new massive online open course (MOOC) starting May 4, 2020.

You can also read Concordia University’s in-depth news coverage of the event here.

For more information on the course or to register, please click here.

 

Vivek Venkatesh to Be Featured in Upcoming The Walrus Podcast

Photo: Amir Asif

Project SOMEONE Director and UNESCO-PREV co-Chair, Vivek Venkatesh spoke at The Walrus Talks Living Better in Toronto in October, 2019. The event was part of a national series that featured key speakers discussing important and relevant Canadian topics.

During his short talk, Vivek discussed the role of social pedagogy in negotiating and understanding different perspectives, as well as sharing his personal connection to hate and the transformative effect it has had on him.

The Walrus has recently launched a new podcast called “The Conversation Piece” that features the best of past Walrus Talks. If you missed that talk or would like to hear it again, it will be available for listening and downloading Wednesday, April 22, 2020, on iTunes/Stitcher/Google Play among others.

For more information, please click here.

UNESCO-Prev Chair Launches Interactive Map of Centers of Expertise in PVE

In 2019, the UNESCO-PREV Chair began collecting data to create an interactive map of centers of expertise in the prevention of violent extremism (PVE), including experts and organizations working in primary, secondary, and tertiary PVE programs.

The Chair recently unveiled this innovative tool that promotes the sharing of research and action in the field of PVE. The map features three different filters that allow users to search by region, type of organization, and type of prevention. As a result, the general public can quickly identify the poles of expertise and communities of practice in PVE (research, community, government, and international organizations) at the international level. 

The UNESCO-PREV Chair invites individuals and organizations meeting its criteria to contact its team for inclusion in the interactive map, which will be updated regularly.

For more information on the mapping tool, please click here, to go directly to the map, click here

New UNESCO-PREV Chair Annual Report

 

The UNESCO-PREV Chair 2019 Annual Report is now available and provides a comprehensive overview of its organizational structure; statistics; actions, activities, and impacts; financial partnerships and grants.  

Included in the 2019 report are structure-related actions, such as solidifying the Chair’s team and the website launch, and the creation of social network accounts. The Chair has also been involved in mapping centres of expertise in the prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism, as well as creating a regularly updated bank of associate members.

The report also details the launch, pursuit, or completion of several large-scale research and action-research projects, as illustrated by numerous scientific publications.

The Chair co-organized several events, including two major international conferences, in Ottawa and Rabat, Morocco, the latter of which promoted Québec and Canada’s expertise abroad. The Chair was also involved in several training, awareness, and knowledge transfer activities.

To view the 2019 Annual Report, please click here.

Online Registration for “From Hate to Hope” MOOC Now Open

Registration is now open for “From Hate to Hope: Building Understanding and Resilience.” Our first massive open online course (MOOC). This first iteration will begin on May 4, 2020, and last for 5 weeks.

Developed by the team at Project Someone, the course aims for conversations between a variety of people and the sharing of multiple views on the difficult topic of hate.

During this 10-hour online course, participants will:

  • Explore the dynamics of hate including the ways in which people are manipulated to feel and express hate.
  • Gain strategies for building resilience to hate through dialogue.
  • Integrate best practices for using social media for advocacy.
  • Analyze and develop strategies for using social media to build resilience in different sectors.

The course is entirely online and can be completed at your convenience. It is trilingual and can be followed in English, French, or Arabic.

You can find more details about the course here and you can register here.

If you have specific questions, you can also email projectsomeone@concordia.ca.

Live-Stream of Conference on the Development of Metal Music in Quebec

On Thursday, April 2, 2020, Project Someone collaborator, Méi-Ra St. Laurent, Ph.D., will be live-streaming her conference titled « Le Québec, une terre de metal? : regards sur le développement d’un genre transgressif au Québec », in French, via Zoom in conjunction with the Société Québécoise de Recherche en Musique (SQRM).

Here is the abstract (available only in French):

 « Comme certains journalistes, amateurs et universitaires l’ont déjà suggéré, la province de Québec demeure un terreau fertile pour la musique metal. Plus spécifiquement, par le biais d’une l’analyse réalisée en 2013, Dominic Arsenault (Université de Montréal) démontre, qu’au Québec, le nombre de groupes de musique metal par 100 000 habitants est supérieur à celui qu’on retrouve dans le reste du Canada. Toutefois, ce genre transgressif reste peu connu des non-initiés et demeure toujours en marge de l’industrie musicale québécoise, et ce, malgré ses 40 ans d’existence au Québec. Tout en s’attardant aux caractéristiques idéologiques et esthétiques du metal, cette conférence aura pour but de dresser des liens entre le développement du genre au Québec depuis son avènement et les différents événements (politiques, sociaux, culturels et économiques) ayant marqué la société québécoise ».

The conference begins at 12:30 p.m. EDT is scheduled to last 90 minutes. It will also include a question and discussion period. To attend, please connect to Zoom using the following meeting ID: 539 066 036

UNESCO-Prev Chair Summer Institute at Concordia University

The UNESCO Chair in the Prevention of Violent Radicalisation and Extremism is organizing its first Summer Institute course titled “(Re) Imagining the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism.” The Summer School will first be offered through a massive open online course (MOOC) titled “From Hate to Hope: Building Understanding and Resilience” from May 4th to June 8th, 2020. The second and final part of the Summer Institute course will be offered in person at Concordia University from June 16th to 18th, 2020*.

Through an innovative approach integrating digital media, online learning and a flipped classroom, the summer school will provide an engaging face-to-face setting to discuss recent prevention issues. The themes that will be addressed during the summer school will enable participants to:

  • Strengthen their knowledge of concepts and practices related to primary, secondary and tertiary prevention in the context of violent radicalization and extremism;
  • Familiarize with the method and tools for collecting, analyzing and processing data in the prevention field;
  • Conduct a real evaluation of a prevention tool, in particular the MOOC, through a practical case study.

To Register

As places are limited, you are invited to register before May 1st, 2020 by sending your CV accompanied with a short paragraph demonstrating your interest towards the course by email to: <lydie.belporo@usherbrooke.ca>.

*Please note that the Institute has been postponed till 2021 due to the pandemic.