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.

Internet Citizens seeks to meet this need. A partnership between Google, UK Youth, Livity and ISD, the project develops and delivers educational workshops in youth centres, seeking to increase the resilience of participants to extremist narratives and grooming online through the cultivation of media literacy, critical thinking and social and emotional skills. 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 and critical consumers.

Internet Citizen workshops are currently being delivered in 30 day long sessions at youth centres across the UK, providing skills training to those who need it most – often disengaged and vulnerable 15-18 year olds. The resources, games and activities used in the workshops are the product of extensive co-creation with young people, and address the challenge of how to transfer meaningful skills and knowledge in an engaging way outside of the classroom. Facilitated by inspiring, credible voices, these workshops aspire to be as fun as they are educational.

Team
Kelsey Bjornsgaard
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Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Project Coordinator

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Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Project Coordinator

Kelsey Bjornsgaard is a Project Coordinator 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 Coordinator

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Louis Reynolds
Louis Reynolds

Policy & Research Coordinator

Louis Reynolds is a Policy & Research Coordinator at the Institute of 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.