D10 Policy Brief | September 2023

Author: Mattia Zeba, Eurac Research

Civic education programs show potential for combating radicalization and violent extremism but require nuanced approaches. Key challenges include:

  • Engaging vulnerable youth who distrust institutions
  • Customizing activities for different age groups
  • Tailoring content and formats for prisoners amid restrictions
  • Avoiding overbroad definitions that inaccurately label social issues
  • Balancing customization and stigmatization risks
  • Building trust and cultural competence, not coercion

Participatory methods like roleplaying, theatre-base activities, dialogues and arts activities have shown some promise for building critical thinking, empathy, cooperation, and resilience against extremist ideologies. Proper facilitator training is crucial to encourage reflection without endorsing radical perspectives. Community-rooted programs help tailor activities to local contexts while promoting inclusion.

Recommended policy actions:

  • Support participatory civic education as part of comprehensive prevention
  • Develop resources and trainings to equip facilitators with skills for managing sensitive discussions and activities
  • Foster partnerships between schools, NGOs, and local authorities to establish inclusive civic education spaces
  • Promote interdisciplinary input and community involvement in program design for localization and cultural resonance
  • Refine target group definitions to avoid overreach
  • Fund specialized reintegration programs incorporating civic education components for particular target groups such as detainees and returning foreign fighters.