A Global Generation: How Dialogue Helps Prevent Extremism
13 Jun 2016
As part of Generation Global, our renewed worldwide education programme, Palestinian and US students participated in a two-week special digital dialogue project, which allowed students to engage in online dialogue with peers across the globe. The project brought students from two very different backgrounds together to discuss issues related to their communities, beliefs, and values.
For Palestinian students, gaining access to people in other countries is instrumental to helping them develop a global understanding; and the opportunity to connect with US students is something that many of the students had never experienced before. Most of the Palestinian schools taking part were from marginalised parts of the West Bank. Despite limited prior opportunities to connect, students fully exploited the opportunity of a safe space to themselves. Giving them a platform to explore ideas, self-critique, and reflect was the real success of the experience, and helped support students to avoid binary world views that could contribute to extremist positions.
"If we really want to make a change, we can... we should start with ourselves"
The USA school that connected with Palestinian schools has over 2,500 students who come from over 90 different countries. The student body represents multiple cultural and religious backgrounds. Their elective course, World Religions, explores different global perspectives, and is taught by the 9/11 Tribute Center 2016 Teacher Award winner, who was recognised for his teaching resources on Islam, Islamophobia, and violent extremism.
A Global Generation
Students showed impressive insight and self-critique, and were able to discuss their own agency in improving their society. The culmination of one discussion was a call to action by students, one of whom said, "We can make a difference. If we really want to make a change, we can... we should start with ourselves."
Palestinian teachers reflected that our programme has helped them to better understand their students, and that after the project their classes improved their ability to engage in other forms of dialogue and critical thinking, for example when taking part in one of our videoconferences.
Our programme coordinator reflected, "For me, this was a very important milestone for Generation Global in Palestine; giving the students the opportunity to voice their opinions in writing and having the chance to be very personal about what they think. Team Topics has been offered rich content from students, who have challenged, and been challenged by, their peers around the world, thus opening their minds into diversity and need to change in this global dialogue platform."
As part of our ongoing monitoring and evaluation, and following the digital dialogue project and a series of videoconferences, one of the schools in the West Bank took part in our latest research project with Exeter University. The research analyses the behavioural change among students participating in Generation Global. One teacher reflected that when taking part in videoconferences, the depth of comprehension and genuine dialogue between students was significantly improved as a result of the programme.