Education Professor, Genocide Survivor Warns Schools About Student Radicalization

Photo of a classroom, with a male teacher standing in the background and the back of a student's head in the foreground.

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College and a survivor of the Bosnian genocide, says there are parallels between the recent rise of White nationalism in the U.S. and the Serbian Islamophobia of the 1980s that led to millions of deaths. Sabic-El-Rayess’s research suggests that young people become part of extremist movements based on ethnic and racial hatred through narratives that are “deliberately constructed outside classrooms to appeal to disenfranchised youths who harbor grievances.” Such narratives aim to subvert and minimize the influence of teachers, but schools can work to prevent radicalization by letting students engage in honest conversations about their grievances before they turn to other sources for validation. Read more