Landscape of Hope releases new evaluation guidebook

The Landscape of Hope project team has just released a guidebook to evaluating art-driven and resilience-based initiatives like their own, based on criteria developed by the Anti-Racism Action Program (ARAP) that prioritize the voices of Indigenous, racialized, and religious minority communities.

While the evaluation guidebook is intended to support Landscape of Hope researchers and partners in measuring the success and effectiveness of their work, it will serve as a practical tool to any organization undertaking similar work at the intersection of social justice, education and the arts. 

The guidebook offers a simple, step-by-step approach to practicing self-reflexive evaluation and mobilizing participatory methodology. This includes strategies for tracking project progress and conducting interviews/focus groups, as well as a breakdown of resilience- and art-based frameworks and instruments that can be applied across a wide variety of sectors and initiatives.

Those interested should stay tuned for webinars (dates to be announced soon) that will be facilitated by the Landscape of Hope team on implementing the tools in the guidebook.

Download the guidebook.

Director Vivek Venkatesh discusses pandemic-fuelled violence on Radio Noon Quebec with Shawn Apel

Radio Noon with Shawn ApelProject Someone director Vivek Venkatesh recently appeared on Radio Noon Quebec with Shawn Apel to discuss rising levels of anger, violence and polarization in the context of the upcoming federal election and the ongoing pandemic. 

On September 8th, Venkatesh spoke with host Leah Hendry about how pandemic-related anxiety has led some to take drastic measures to be heard by their political representatives and fellow citizens, noting that many are willing to put their reputations on the line for their cause.

“They’re crying out for attention, they want to be heard,” Venkatesh said. “Maybe it’s time to say, ok, what do you have to say, beyond the fact that you want to utter swear words and you want to insult the person, what is it that is troubling you the most?”

Venkatesh advocated for the importance of constructive, agonistic dialogue, in which opposing parties make an effort to understand one another’s rationales, rather than relying on ad hominem insults. He noted that too often, we value consensus over healthy debate, which leaves many feeling marginalized and unaccounted for. 

According to Venkatesh, we should instead focus on constructing models and platforms that are more conducive to pluralistic dialogue and social education.

Venkatesh appears at 30:24. Listen here. 

Director Vivek Venkatesh to speak at Montreal Council of Women panel on Hate Speech

MCW event flyerDirector Vivek Venkatesh will be joining Dr. Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, and Amira Elghawaby, journalist and human rights advocate, in an upcoming panel event on hate speech hosted by the Montreal Council of Women. Titled Hate speech: A Violent attack on Canadian diversity, the panelists will address hate speech in the Canadian and digital contexts, sharing their expertise on countering hate that leads to violence.

When: September 2nd, 2021 – 5 pm EST

Where: Online via Zoom

Register here.

Read more about the event. 

Project Someone welcomes Dr. Leslie Touré Kapo

Leslie Touré Kapo, PhD

The Project Someone team warmly welcomes Dr. Leslie Touré Kapo, our incoming research associate and community advisor. Dr. Kapo will be contributing to Landscape of Hope by mobilizing community organizations in Black and racialized communities of Montreal. He will also be developing workshops for the Innovative Social Pedagogy project with Employment and Social Development Canada.

Dr. Kapo’s research interests lie in urban studies, youth studies, critical race theory, and gender and sexuality. He explores the impact of racialization processes on the everyday life of youth in low-income and immigrant neighbourhoods. His expertise in research and project management largely stems from his experience as a youth and social worker in France and Quebec. He received his master’s degree in sociology from Université de Perpignan via Domitia, and completed his PhD with the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS). Dr. Kapo’s dissertation explored the everyday and ordinary life of young racialized Montrealers. This ethnography followed 28 young racialized Montrealers between Fall 2015 and Spring 2018 and shed light on undermined dynamics such as stigmatization, islamophobia, racism and ordinary violence. His dissertation was awarded Best thesis 2020-2021 by the Centre Urbanisation Culture Société of INRS, as well as the Best thesis award 2021 in Humanities and Social Sciences of the Association des doyennes et des doyens des études supérieures au Québec. 

Text courtesy of Leslie Touré Kapo

New UNESCO-PREV report examines the role of program evaluations in extremism prevention efforts

Report title page

A new UNESCO-PREV report, titled Constraints and opportunities in evaluating programs for prevention of violent extremism: How practitioners see it, is now available to the public. Co-authored by David Morin, co-chair of UNESCO-PREV, Pierre-Alain Clément and Pablo Madriaza, the report analyzes the experiences of professionals and practitioners working in Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) when it comes to the evaluation of their work. Drawing on interviews conducted by the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC) and the results of a focus group conducted by the chair’s Ottawa counterpart, the study analyzes testimonies from a total of 57 professionals from around the world. 

The report begins from the observation that there is a lack of “rigorously defined conceptual and empirical foundations” to most PVE programs. As a result, the authors observe, stakeholders have little evidence-based data and guidelines to rely on when designing, implementing and funding programs aimed at countering violent extremism. Program evaluations are an important way of addressing this issue. As the authors observe, “evaluations can provide a better understanding of the mechanisms and processes that make programs succeed or fail.” 

Yet at the same time, they note that practitioners often perceive program evaluations as a constraint, given that their work is not exactly suited to “tightly scheduled evaluations that use traditional performance indicators.” This interplay between the opportunities and constraints posed by evaluations, and the question of how said constraints are to be resolved, makes up the bulk of the report. As the first step in a larger project on evaluation of prevention practices, the report will no doubt serve as a crucial resource for future developments in the field.

Read the report. 

United Nations Counter-Terrorism Week 2021: A panel discussion on online hate


United Nations counter-terrorism week


In his role as UNESCO-PREV co-chair, Project Someone director Vivek Venkatesh recently moderated a panel discussion as part of the United Nations 2021 Counter-Terrorism Week. Titled From online hate to offline violence: Addressing and countering hate speech and violent extremism through education in a digital world, the event brought together high-level stakeholders in government and civil society to explore the role of information literacy in countering the spread and escalation of online hate speech. The discussion was co-organized by UNESCO, OSAPG (UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect), OSRSG-VAC (UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children) and UNOCT (UN Office of Counter-Terrorism), in partnership with the Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Norway. Speakers included UN officials working in the fields of counter-terrorism, violence prevention and education, Facebook’s head of counterterrorism policy for the EMEA, Norway’s Minister of Justice and Jordan’s Minister Plenipotentiary. Advocating for a “whole-society” approach to the issues of hate speech and violent extremism, the speakers explored prevention efforts that both center the educational realm and extend well beyond it. 

Watch a recording of the event. 

Vivek Venkatesh appears on Radio Noon with Shawn Apel, weighs in on debate over CBC disabling Facebook comments


Vivek and Shawn

Photos: CBC Radio One; Radio-Canada/Christian Côté

Director Vivek Venkatesh recently appeared on Radio Noon Quebec with Shawn Apel to weigh in on the CBC’s decision to close Facebook comments on its news stories. While emphasizing that the public broadcaster has a duty to protect its employees from abuse, Venkatesh argued that the strategy of shutting down commentary altogether––while continuing to share posts on the platform––amounts to something of a cop out. Rather than addressing the problem of dangerous and hateful commentary, Venkatesh explains, such a move simply “manages public perception of the problem.” Instead, argues Venkatesh, we should be having a larger discussion about platform moderation and the difference between healthy agonism and divisive antagonism.

Tune in at 39:49 to hear more from Vivek. 


Upcoming webinar on preventing violent extremism

Conference flyer

Photo Credit: Teaching & Learning Center of the University of Siena and Chaire UNESCO-PREV

Dr. Ryan Scrivens and director Vivek Venkatesh will be participating in an upcoming conference held by the UNESCO-PREV chair in partnership with the Teaching & Learning Center of the University of Siena, titled “Preventing Violent Extremism.” Scrivens will be presenting on research conducted as part of “Insights from Former Extremists,” alongside presentations by Italian colleagues of The Forward Project. Venkatesh will be moderating the discussion.

When: Wednesday, June 23rd, 9-11 am (EDT)

Fill out this form to register.

Project Someone research featured on Canada’s National Observer


protest against anti-asian racism

Photo by Jason Leung via Unsplash

Writing for Canada’s National Observer, Jesse Firempong recently posed the following: what can be done to prevent and address hate, beyond its criminalization? To answer this question, Firempong turned to Project Someone director Vivek Venkatesh for his expertise on building community resilience to hate and radicalization. In the article, Venkatesh advocates for the importance of exclusive spaces for targeted groups to process and heal together, and emphasizes the role of empathy when it comes to unlearning hate. Sharing lessons learned from Project Someone initiatives like “Insights from Former Extremists,” Venkatesh underscores an approach that balances prevention efforts with community support systems.

Read the article.

Director Vivek Venkatesh to participate in community roundtable on urban security


Project Someone Director Vivek Venkatesh will be joining a diverse panel of activists and experts in a roundtable on urban security this Thursday––the final event in a webinar series titled “Territories in Conversation: Urban Security.” The series, led by Benoit Décary-Secours and Leslie Touré Kapo in partnership with local nonprofit Paroles D’excluEs, aims to promote critical conversations about popular discourses on issues of urban (in)security. More specifically, it seeks to shed light on how Montreal youth in marginalized neighbourhoods are racialized and scapegoated by the media in discussions on urban safety. Thursday’s roundtable is titled “Trajectoires de lutte : résistances locales et émancipation.” 

When: Thursday, June 17th, 2021 – 6 pm (online via Zoom)

See the event page for more information. 

Watch previous episodes of the series.