About ISD

Why we exist

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

The escalating influence of extremist movements poses a systemic threat to a secure, cohesive and free society. ISD develops real-world solutions to the rising challenge of extremist movements and the ideologies that underpin them. Our work helps protect, foster and normalise a civic culture of freedom, openness and respect for the rights of others, without which there can be no durable peace and freedom.

Our approach

In innovating, trialling and scaling data-driven solutions across our ecosystem of unique influencer networks, city, government and private sector partnerships, we aim 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.

We work collaboratively to equip individuals, communities, cities, governments and institutions with the insights, skills and tools to challenge the spread of extremist ideologies. ISD is uniquely equipped to bridge research, thought leadership, policy and grass-roots program delivery, and to distribute innovative, data-driven models at scale.

Our team combines cutting edge data analysis and policy advisory support to governments, cities and international organisations, with the empowerment of youth and community influencers through innovative communications and technology tools, and the inoculation of the next generation through educational programming. In this way, ISD is measurably impacting the tide of polarisation and extremism through its ‘full-stack’ approach.

Defining ‘extremism’

Extremism is the advocacy of a system of belief that posits the superiority and dominance of one ‘in-group’ over all ‘out-groups’, propagating a dehumanising ‘othering’ mind-set that is antithetical to the universal application of Human Rights. Extremist groups advocate, through explicit and more subtle means, a systemic change in society that reflects their world view.

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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    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.

Find out more about our work