The TRED team develops and tests evidence-based resources rooted in public health approaches to prevention. We aim to equip communities and practitioners with tools to prevent radicalization and violence and offer transparent, tested strategies to shore up capacity and build new skills. Our tools help create off-ramps from radicalization pathways and prevent persuasion by harmful online content, conspiracies, propaganda, and disinformation. TRED centers all of our work in the needs of targeted groups, survivors, and victims of hate and political violence, seeking to build solidarity, systemic resilience, and community cohesion rather than focusing on carceral and security-based solutions alone.
Project Spotlight:Building Resilience in Higher Education
Universities are struggling with rising anti-democratic attitudes and beliefs on campuses, including support for political violence, authoritarianism, antisemitism, anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes, and other supremacist belief systems, including white supremacy, male supremacy, Western supremacy, and Christian supremacy. PERIL’s BRICK toolkit offers tangible tools and resources for upstream, public health-style prevention to help inoculate campus populations against disinformation, propaganda, conspiracy theories, and hateful content in ways that prevent violence, support members of targeted groups, and build solidarity and healing across campuses. In addition to the PDF downloadable toolkit and web portal, PERIL’s training team delivers hands-on training sessions for practitioners to build their skills in ways that can strengthen democratic resilience and prevent violence on college campuses and their communities. This includes dedicated training workshops for faculty, student-facing staff, and university leaders that provide skills recognizing early warning signs, knowing how to effectively engage in challenging conversations, engage across political differences, and counter hate speech while protecting freedom of expression and academic freedom. PERIL’s success in creating an evidence-based toolkit for higher education campuses (the BRICK toolkit) is currently expanding in multiple ways, including the development of new, targeted tools specific to the needs of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). HSI communities face many of the same challenges as other university campuses nationally– including the circulation of conspiracy theories, antisemitism, anti-Blackness, misogyny and machismo, and more– but also are targets of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino and racist hate. PERIL’s HSI-team is crafting dedicated tools for HSI faculty, students, staff, and leaders to help support targeted groups while combating harms. The HSI toolkit will be released after empirical testing for effectiveness in 2024; bespoke training workshops for HSI campus leaders and communities are also available.
In partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety and the Southern Poverty Law Center, PERIL is engaged in a multi-year research and intervention project on youth attitudes toward firearms. It grows out of extensive analysis of the narratives and rhetoric of online pro-gun media, and has produced essential information about young people’s attitudes and practices around guns. This research has informed a public health messaging campaign which interrupts youth consumption of ultra pro-gun propaganda. We hope this research and the real-world intervention which grows out of it will provide a strong foundation for public health officials, policymakers, educators, families and young people themselves to disrupt the cycle of extremism and gun violence, and reduce gun injuries and deaths for young people in America.
The STAR project (Strengthening Texas Advancing Resiliency) seeks to illuminate the dynamics polarizing religious communities and equip community leaders with the skills, knowledge, and community infrastructure needed to lovingly interrupt the pathways to polarization and hate. To that end, the STAR project provided religious leaders and community stakeholders with the information and abilities necessary to facilitate community-led initiatives focused on addressing polarization, conspiratorial thinking, supremacist ideologies, and ultimately to achieve better social cohesion in the face of mounting political polarization and radicalization to violent extremism.
PERIL’s Summer Institute is an annual week-long residential training and education program aimed at building early career practitioner capacity and understanding of a public health approach to prevention of extremism, with a focus on supremacist and antidemocratic movements. The Institute takes place on American University’s campus in Washington, DC each June.
PERIL worked with local government officials in Seattle, Washington to develop a training program for government workers across a variety of agencies and departments in order to help government officials recognize and interrupt radicalization and extremism at work, in the field, and online. To that end, PERIL held rapid response listening sessions with city employees which informed a pilot program delivered and tested online. The program equipped government workers with background knowledge of hate groups, red flags and warning signs of radicalization, and strategies used by extremist groups to recruit and persuade the public.
With support from the Vermont Community Foundation, PERIL conducted a series of focus groups with K-12 educators and local communities to assess concerns and stakeholder needs related to countering disinformation, conspiracies, propaganda, and harmful online content through education and to deepen the network of educators and others working to confront extremism and strengthen schools in times of divisive polarization.
In partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center, PERIL has launched a two-year pilot in Michigan and Georgia to provide dedicated intervention resources to prevent and counter antisemitism, anti government extremism, and other forms of hate and antidemocratic developments. Our on-site Community Advisory, Resource, and Education (CARE) centers are modeled after the 22-year old German mobile advisory centers and provide training workshops, assessments, referrals, and tools to parents, teachers, employers, veterans associations, mental health counselors, and other groups and individuals throughout the pilot regions. CARE Centers are empirically guided with rigorous, ethically vetted research accompaniment (pre- and post-testing of training workshops and tools, participant observation, focus groups, and interviews) to provide evidence of what works before we scale up centers regionally and nationally.