preventing extremism by promoting social inclusion

by Deakin University


A Global Compact member


The project explored how arts and culture as a ‘soft, non-threatening tool’ can help prevent extremism through promoting social inclusion.

Project implemented: January 2018

Project goal

Understand and use the ‘power’ of arts & culture to promote social inclusion for peace and stability.

delivering on

why is this project important?

The project is important to Australia because it focuses on promoting peace, stability and preventing extremism through the use of arts and culture.

Key steps to make it happen

1Phase 1:

Bringing 13 Bangladeshi officials to Australia to exchange ideas, skills and expertise on the topic.

2Phase 1 continued

Mix of theory and practice with hands on experience on the topic through visiting a range of arts and cultural organisations.

3Phase 1 continued

Building knowledge on how to co-create value to empower and engage young people and build their confidence and resilience.

4Phase Two

Follow-up activities of each of the fellows to apply these learnings. This was conducted in Bangladesh.

5Phase two continued

Each fellow designed and implemented a project using arts and culture to engage isolated youth and promote social inclusion.

6Phase two continued

Assessment and evaluation of the fellows' projects by the Deakin research team in Bangladesh.

impact to date

Establishment of 529 adolescent clubs in 9 districts of Bangladesh to engage both young females and males in 2018 so far.
This project led to the decision of the government of Bangladesh to establish 4883 adolescent clubs country wife in 2018, with one of the objectives of these clubs being preventing extremism through arts and culture. So far, 529 clubs have been established, and the remaining youth clubs are to be established throughout 2018.
Establishment of a primary school named ‘Dudhshor Digital school’ in Dudhshor Village (Jheniadah District), Bangladesh.
The school promotes arts and culture amongst students alongside education and provides a venue for village youths to practise arts and culture, hold cultural events and refrain from anti-social activities.
Establishment of a Cultural Club in Jhenaidah district, Bangladesh
The club promotes local heritage and revives traditional local culture on the verge of extinction through engaging idle youth who would otherwise be engaged in antisocial activities.
Orchestration of 2 cultural events such as a Meena Bazar and a cultural program by Green Herald School, Bangladesh.
The purpose of these events were to create awareness amongst the teachers and parents to identify and work with withdrawn and isolated children and include them through using the power of arts and culture.
Initiation of a weekly online blog to promote local arts and culture.
The purpose is to raise awareness about local arts and culture and leveraging this knowledge as a tool to promote social inclusion.
Organisation of speakers forum in North South University, Bangladesh
The purpose of the forum is to address the lack of purpose among youth with the ultimate aim being to promote increased participation of youth in voluntary and communal activities and build tolerance and respect towards each other.

Promoting the understanding that arts and culture is not only an aesthetic tool for entertainment but it can also be a powerful tool to promote social inclusion and engage isolated youths amongst Deakin staff and Bangladeshi officials.

Capacity building on how to engage isolated youths through arts-based initiatives that were encompassed in different types of programs.

Developing synergistic networks and organisational linkages between officials in Bangladesh and their peers in Australia for the purpose of problem solving relating to issues of peace and stability.

Rising extremism leading to radicalisation is a problem that many countries in the world including Australia and Bangladesh face. Scholars argue that the arts can act as a means to achieve social cohesion through empowering individuals and groups at risk of social exclusion. While hard measures such as use of force, arrests and detention are important, recent research suggests that soft measures such as arts and culture need to be used alongside the hard operational approach to prevent extremism as a holistic approach.

In the 2017 Australia Award Fellowship Round 17 program funded by DFAT, researchers at Deakin University explored how arts and culture as a ‘soft, non-threatening tool’ can help prevent extremism through promoting social inclusion of disadvantaged youths who run the risk of being radicalized.

The innovative program brought 13 Bangladeshi public and private sector officials to Australia to exchange ideas, skills and expertise on how arts and culture can work as a soft strategic approach to prevent extremism and foster social harmony. Visiting a range of arts and cultural organisations through a two week long training run by Deakin University in Melbourne and Sydney in 2017, the fellows were provided with examples of how to co-create value to empower, include and engage young people and build their confidence, resilience and self-esteem through arts and culture, with follow-up activities in Bangladesh to apply these learnings.   

 The program has led to a number of initiatives undertaken by fellows with far reaching implications to engage socially excluded youth who run the risk of being radicalized, including capacity building of both Deakin staff and Bangladeshi officials.



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