Countering Violent Extremism is a new concept for many Americans, however Singapore and other nations have more experience designing and developing effective programs to deradicalize and disengage combatants within their borders. Students in this program began the six-week course learning about radicalization processes in order to then turn to understanding deradicalization processes and programs and the role played by communities, prisons, and other institutions involved in the process of countering violent extremism and preventing terrorism. While in Singapore, in coordination with Rohan Gunaratna’s International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University, students engaged with leading experts in these fields, as Singapore is a world leader in deradicalization programs. Lectures and field visits to Changi Prison, the Harmony Center, and other religious and community based deradicalization program centers allowed students to directly apply the theoretical understanding to real-world programs addressing critical challenges in the world.
This uniquely designed program allows busy, involved students who may not have other study abroad opportunities the ability to experience other cultures and ways of learning. Embedding a 10-day Singapore study tour in a 6 week-online course allowed students to be exposed to the fundamental literature and complex theories of radicalization and deradicalization before landing in Singapore to hit the ground running when meeting with officials and researchers without sacrificing a full summer internship or job opportunity to study abroad.