Conference on Violent Extremism

"The Ecology of Violent Extremism"

The Alliance for Peacebuilding; Eastern Mennonite University-The Center for Justice & Peacebuilding and the Toda Peace Institute co-sponsored a two-day conference, held in Harrisonburg, VA (November 5-6, 2016) on "The Ecology of Violent Extremism." The meeting brought together leading theorists and practitioners, with extensive experience in the field of peacebuilding with an emphasis on negotiation, governance, democratic processes, intergroup dialogue, and the use of media to address key drivers of violent conflict, to discuss an ecological or systems approach to violent extremism (VE). An ecological approach to violent extremism views the problem of VE in a broader context than the mainstream media and political analysis. Counter terrorism strategies generally offer simplistic examinations of violent extremism by focusing solely on the individuals and groups using terror, without examining the broader factors driving or mitigating violent extremism. This project aimed at reframing the traditional approaches to VE, which focus almost exclusively on the role of violent counterterrorism. Participants discussed the role of education and inclusive peacebuilding processes to address the broader national and global factors that promote radicalisation and motivate violent political behaviour.