Empowering Young People Against Hate Speech – Reflecting on the Seminar Series

Amidst the prevalence of hate speech in today’s interconnected society, the need to equip young individuals with tools to combat it is more pressing than ever. For this reason, ARENAS partnered with the international network Schools Beyond Regions and Borders (SBRB) to present the seminar series titled “Empowering Young People Against Hate Speech.”

Launched in February 2021, the SBRB project aims to foster an understanding of civic and citizenship competence among secondary school students, encouraging them to actively engage as leaders within their communities. Beyond this central goal, SBRB endeavours to cultivate a strong sense of belonging to the European community among its participants, fostering unity and inclusivity for future generations. Through a comprehensive approach integrating education, engagement, and empowerment, SBRB equips young individuals with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to navigate and positively impact the complex socio-political landscape of today and tomorrow.

ARENAS involvement in Seminar Series

The seminar series was held from October 2023 to January 2024 and featured ARENAS members addressing various aspects of hate speech and other forms of extreme narratives, including their historical evolution, identification in online discourse, ethical considerations, and strategies for mediation and remediation. The series began with Steven Forti from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, providing a historical perspective on extremist narratives. Subsequent lectures by Julien Longhi (CY Cergy Paris University), Katalin Miklóssy (University of Helsinki), and Béatrice Fracchiolla (University of Lorraine) explored the spread of extremist narratives online, ethics in democracy, and methods for mediating hate speech, respectively.

Reactions to the Seminar Series

Feedback on the seminar series was overwhelmingly positive. The young participants appreciated the engaging presentations tailored to their level of understanding and found the practical strategies offered valuable in navigating hate speech within their educational environments. The collaboration between SBRB and ARENAS in organizing this seminar series proved highly successful in providing young people with a comprehensive understanding of hate speech. Equipped with valuable skills and competencies, participants expressed newfound confidence in identifying and addressing hate speech to promote tolerance among their peers. This collaborative effort was a significant step towards fostering more inclusive and tolerant societies, underscoring the pivotal role of educational institutions in countering extremist narratives.

Future Plans

Looking ahead, the partnership between ARENAS and Schools Beyond Regions and Borders remains robust. Beyond the seminar series, Béatrice Fracchiolla will extend her research by visiting Italian schools, furthering practical applications and gathering feedback. Additionally, plans are in motion for continued collaboration on new projects aimed at addressing contemporary challenges, which will be announced soon.

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