News & Politics
Extremism-Studies Programs Are a Thing at DC Universities. How Do They Stack Up?
Photos courtesy of universities.
||American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL)
||George Washington University’s Program on Extremism (PoE)
|What’s its mission?
||Launched in 2019, PERIL has been researching ways to prevent young people from becoming radicalized and to intervene if they do. The goal isn’t just academic: It’s trying to develop strategies that could actually help communities keep kids out of extremist groups.
||The focus goes beyond the United States—PoE was found-ed in 2015 to look at a number of threats, including jihad-ism and right-wing extremism. The goal is to develop policy solutions that could be adopted by lawmakers and law-enforcement agencies.
|Who’s Behind It?
||Cynthia Miller-Idriss, an AU professor who has spent more than two decades studying far-right movements (both here and in places like Germany) and youth radicalization.
||The program is run by Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on Islamism in North America and Europe whose research has often focused on jihadist networks and counter-radicalization policies.
||Last summer, PERIL released a toolkit that helps parents and other caregivers recognize signs of online radicalization—with an emphasis on new risks in the Covid era—and learn ways to address it.
||The GW Extremism Tracker, started in 2016, is a monthly report documenting cases of terrorism in the US. Each update includes details about new terrorism-related activities and legal proceedings.
|Response to January 6
||On Inauguration Day, PERIL put out a four-point response to the US Capitol attack with recommendations for fighting domestic extremism. One key: Tech companies must do a better job of slowing the flow of propaganda and misinformation.
||In April, the Program on Extremism released a 44-page report examining military experience among participants in the at-tack. Of the 357 people charged, 43—or 12 percent—had some kind of military background.