Since 2019, the FRQ have been providing financial support for UNESCO Chairs under a joint Declaration of Intent signed with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO). Here is a portrait of one of these Chairs, whose work is generating positive impacts for society.

UNESCO Chair in the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Extremism

Chairholders: David Morin and Marie-Eve Carignan, Université de Sherbrooke, Ghayda Hassan, Université du Québec à Montréal, et Vivek Venkatesh, Concordia University

Repression alone is not enough to counter radicalization and violent extremism. Researchers at the UNESCO-PREV Chair are therefore working to strengthen strategies for prevention.

One of the Chair’s projects focuses on the impact of Les As de l’info, an online French-language media platform designed for children aged 8 to 12 and produced by journalists.

Based on children’s comments on the site, as well as surveys and interviews, the research team, headed by Professor Olivier Champagne-Poirier, analyzes behaviours and reactions to sensitive topics such as climate change and conspiracy theories. It also observes the effects of media use on young people and their families.

Preliminary findings indicate that children like having a source of information tailored to their needs. Content is received with openness and leads some young people to take action, for example, on environmental issues. Children discuss articles with family members, which increases the platform’s impact tenfold. Those who have access to coherent sources of information can assimilate it, transform their ways of doing things and even act as leaders in their communities. Young people can thus play a key role in the circulation of information in society.

This research reveals the importance of investing in reliable information sources that are designed for young people, and that also constitute a form of media education. Such actions help prevent young people from falling prey to misinformation and conspiracy theories.

This is one example of the role of the Chair, which seeks to strengthen primary prevention (aimed at the general public), secondary prevention (for individuals at risk of radicalization) and tertiary prevention (rehabilitation of those who have already been radicalized).

The Chair has become a hub of expertise, promoting networking and collaboration. It carries out field-based action research and supports capacity-building in research, government, school and community settings. It also strives to raise public awareness of these issues.

For more information: see the Chair’s literature.