This coming Friday, March 18, Bishop’s University will be hosting a conference on preventing violent extremism that aims to blend scholarly presentations with an immersive exploration of what gets people involved with extremist groups. Where the first half of the day will involve presentations and panel discussions from a broad group of experts on the subject, the afternoon will draw on the support and research of a group of drama students to bring participants right into the moments when past extremists say their lives changes forever.
“With everything that’s going on globally, we should all pay a little more attention to how people get into violent extremism,” said Dr. Heather Lawford, Canada Research Chair in Youth Development and a professor in the school’s Psychology Department, whose research on the subject over the last two years was the starting point for the conference coming together.
Funded by a grant from Public Safety Canada’s Community Resilience Fund, which is focused on funding projects to counter radicalization to violence in Canada, Lawford has been focusing on interviewing people who were violent extremists in their youths.
“Part of the grant was to find a way to share the findings in a meaningful way,” the professor explained. “The stories were really compelling and so interesting that I connected with my colleague, Rebecca Harries, and said wouldn’t it be interesting to talk about these stories and talk about where the points are where we might have supported somebody in going in a better direction?”
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