Be Internet Citizens

Building young people’s resilience to hate and extremism online.

While social media now plays a vital role in the everyday lives of young people as citizens, education systems across the developed world have been slow to react. Extremist groups rely on false promises of status and purpose, manipulation, conspiracy and divisive rhetoric to exploit young people online. Against these methods, critical thinking skills and media literacy, social and emotional skills and meaningful digital citizenship capacities are a strong defence. Today’s young people may be digital natives, but they still need to be taught how to stay safe, make their voices heard and play a positive role as citizens in the online space.

Be Internet Citizens seeks to meet this need. A partnership between Google, YouTube Creators for Change and ISD, the project is designed to teach 13 to 15-year-olds about media literacy, critical thinking and digital citizenship, encouraging young people to be positive voices online while increasing their resilience to hate and extremism. Using an implicit approach to counter-extremism which focuses on popular culture and social issues, the project delivers positive secondary effects, helping participants become more informed citizens, critical consumers and empowered producers of content.

Be Internet Citizen workshops were delivered in youth centres across the UK in 2017 with a curriculum designed and evaluated by ISD. At the end of 2017 ISD published our Impact Report which showed significant positive increase across all impact measures of knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours, as well as high scores on process related questions around enjoyment and overall impact.

In 2018 we are working with Google to roll out Be Internet Citizens workshops into schools across the country, as well as supporting teachers and the youth sector with training and resources to deliver the curriculum independently. Facilitated by inspiring, credible youth mentors, these workshops aspire to be as fun as they are educational.

For more information and resources see the Be Internet Citizens website.

Team
Joe McElroy
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Joe McElroy

Education Associate

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Joe McElroy
Joe McElroy

Education Associate

Joe McElroy is an Education Associate at ISD, working across ISD’s counter-extremism education programmes. As well as organising outreach to schools in the UK and internationally, Joe designs, supports and evaluates education resources and projects that increase intellectual and emotional resilience in young people faced with online and offline extremist rhetoric. Joe is currently developing new educational approaches and resources that build online resilience and critical thinking, including ISD’s Internet Citizens project in partnership with Google, and Digital Resilience with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also supports in the development of a wide range of education research and policy at ISD. Having worked as an outstanding teacher in Mexico and the UK, Joe has a wide range of experience in varied educational contexts. As a Gifted and Talented Coordinator in schools, he has led on several active citizenship projects supporting the UK Youth Parliament, BBC News School Report and the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Holding a Masters in History from Oxford University and a Bachelors in American Studies from the University of Warwick, Joe is also a Teach First Ambassador with a Distinction in his PGCE.
Kelsey Bjornsgaard
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Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Project Manager

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Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Project Manager

Kelsey Bjornsgaard is a Project Manager at ISD focusing on counter-narrative development and delivery as well as youth engagement and education. Kelsey is responsible for running the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and organising ISD’s Youth Innovation Labs. Kelsey is developing new strategies for enhancing peer-to-peer messaging and works closely with young activists internationally to develop innovative youth-led initiatives to prevent and counter violent extremism. Kelsey also works closely with the Strong Cities Network to amplify youth voices amongst government and policy-makers at a city level. Kelsey previously managed marketing and social media strategy for an independent US-based IT company. She holds a Masters in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a Bachelors in European Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Louis Reynolds
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Louis Reynolds

Policy & Research Manager

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Louis Reynolds
Louis Reynolds

Policy & Research Manager

Louis Reynolds is a Policy & Research Manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Louis works across counter-extremism education, research and policy within the Institute, and is currently developing new educational approaches to build resilience to extremism online in the UK and internationally. Louis also works to develop the Monitoring and Evaluation of counter-extremism programmes, and on a range of other international counter-extremism projects and collaborations including the Policy Planner’s Network. Louis was previously a Researcher at the UK cross-party think tank Demos, where he undertook research on extremism and social and emotional education among other topics. He holds a Masters in Intelligence and International Security from Kings College London and a Bachelors in War Studies from Birmingham University.
Natasha Hanckel-Spice
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Natasha Hanckel-Spice

Senior Programme Manager

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Natasha Hanckel-Spice
Natasha Hanckel-Spice

Senior Programme Manager

Natasha manages ISD’s partnership projects programmes, overseeing delivery. This includes the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI) in partnership with Facebook. Prior to joining ISD, Natasha worked with a number of well-known organisations including the British Home Office, advising on marketing strategy and developing social enterprise and youth campaigns.