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Preventing Violent Extremism through Education: International and German Practices

Christodoulou, Eleni; Szakács, Simona

There is a great deal of discussion on how people are not born violent extremists but ‘made’ into one, as well as an increasing recognition that education can play a  crucial role in preventing violent extremism. However, to date there is very little research on either an international or a national level on practices and approaches of preventing violent extremism through education (PVE-E). This study fills in this gap by firstly providing a comprehensive mapping of, as well as critical engagement with the discourses and practices of key international organisations currently involved in PVE-E on both a formal and informal level. It illustrates the different ways in which organisations perceive and enact PVE-E and places the significance of their actions in a comparative context exposing both strengths and weaknesses. Secondly, this study offers the first systematic analysis of PVE-E content in both curricula and textbooks of history and social studies in Germany’s 16 federal states. It engages with how specific themes such as ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ are treated in 87 curricular documents and maps dominant representations of violent extremism emerging from an analysis of 137 textbooks intended for the lower secondary level of education across different types of schools. The study also problematizes existing PVE-E practices in the formal curriculum within the German federal system and identifies possible avenues for improvement. Finally, the study concludes with recommendations for policy-makers and practitioners for both the international and national levels.

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