About ISD

We’re facing a global crisis of polarisation, hate and extremism. The most visible aspects of this are the sharp spikes we see in hate crime and terrorism around the world. But that is just the tip of the iceberg – beneath the waterline lie the orchestrated and coordinated efforts of extremist groups and their ever more sophisticated propaganda machineries that seek to sow hate and to divide. Fascistic, totalitarian movements are not new. But we face a dangerous moment in history with a perfect storm in hybrid threats brewing. The digital era has just hypercharged this problem – giving small numbers of committed bad actors, the means to spread their noxious ideologies further and faster than ever before.

Founded in 2006, ISD is now the leading global ‘think and do’ tank dedicated to understanding and innovating real-world responses to the rising tide of polarisation, hate and extremism of all forms. We combine anthropological research, expertise in international extremist movements and an advanced digital analysis capability that tracks hate, disinformation and extremism online, with policy advisory support and training to governments and cities around the world. We also work to empower youth and community influencers internationally through our pioneering education, technology and communications programmes.

Innovating, trialling and scaling data-driven solutions across our unique networks of community influencers, city and government officials and tech sector partnerships, we work to mount a soft power strategy, proportional in influence and impact to the ever-more sophisticated, cross-border polarisation and recruitment machineries of state and non-state actors promulgating hate, division and conflict.

Defining ‘extremism’

Extremism is the advocacy of a system of belief that claims the superiority and dominance of one identity-based ‘in-group’ over all ‘out-groups’, and propagates a dehumanising ‘othering’ mind-set that is antithetical to pluralism and the universal application of Human Rights. Extremist groups pursue and advocate a systemic political and societal change that reflects their world view. They may do this through non-violent and more subtle means, as well as through violent or explicit means. Extremism can be advocated by state and non-state actors alike.

Explore our areas of work

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    Policy and government advisory

    We combine cutting edge data analysis and policy advisory support to governments, cities and international organisations. Explore policy and governments.

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    Communications and technology

    We harness data, technology and marketing tactics to mount a proportional response to extremist propaganda and messaging. Explore communications and technology.

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    Education

    We develop global education programmes and resources to build the resilience of young people to hate speech, misinformation and extremism. Explore education.

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    Research and insight

    We monitor and analyse global trends in extremism and polarisation in all its forms. Explore research and insight.

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    Grassroots networks

    We create and empower grassroots networks to push back against hate and build communities around the world. Explore grassroots networks.