To discuss the role of educational institutions in countering violent extremism (CVE), the Global Center hosted a lunchtime discussion with Dr. Harris Beider, who has been a Professor in Community Cohesion at the Centre for Social Relations at Coventry University in the United Kingdom since 2008, and is currently a Visiting Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York.

Dr. Beider pointed out that higher education institutions are becoming less isolated and that institutional leaders play an important role as “anchors” in strengthening relations and engaging with surrounding communities. As the world becomes even more globalized and interconnected, Dr. Beider suggests that schools should keep pace with changes and emerging security threats. Within this context, he recommends that policymakers and practitioners help build the capacity of educational institutions to understand the drivers of violent extremism in a “rapidly changing world” and equipping them with the tools to address these issues.

The event brought together a diverse group of representatives from civil society, UN missions, and UN agencies such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. A number of key issues were raised during the interactive discussion, such as the role for cultural diplomacy (including sports and arts) in CVE, the role of education in fostering tolerance and diversity and the importance of religious education, the challenges of unfilled promises and the opportunities these create for recruiters/mobilizers both within and outside of educational institutions, and value of developing both formal and informal opportunities for students to engage with communities.

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