Talks & Workshops

A brief overview of the various sessions we offer at universities to combat extremism on campus.

Extremism on Campus

This workshop covers a broad range of themes relating to extremism on campus. We discuss the ways in which extremist activity, rhetoric and literature can manifest at university, and how they can be challenged. We tackle the controversies and legalities surrounding free speech. We also discuss Far Right and fundamentalist religious groups, with an emphasis on the dangers these speakers hold if unchallenged. The session provides greater awareness for students on the approaches that they can take to tackle extremism, and a forum for all their questions to be answered and debated.


This workshop centres specifically on the Government’s Prevent Strategy. We examine the fictitious narratives that surround the policy, and its practical implications on society. We cover its aetiology, changes under review, and the varied responses by the public. We consider the policy’s application in schools, colleges and universities, and referral to the Channel programme, the government’s de-radicalisation scheme. We cover the NUS’ ‘Students not Suspects’ campaign, its supporter groups, and impact on society at large. We also discuss legitimate criticism of the policy, and how the Strategy can be positively utilised to tackle extremism at universities.

This workshop also covers the legal frameworks with which Higher Education institutions must operate regarding extremism within the student community. We cover the differing duties on universities and unions as separate legal entities, with the former subject to greater obligations as a public body. We discuss the role of the Charity Commission and their guidelines unto which student unions must adhere. We discuss the practical implementation of these legal duties with particular attention to external speaker policies. Students will also be given a platform to vocalise any complaints or views on university adherence to these policies. Overall, students will be provided with a broad legal understanding of the duties imposed on universities and unions should they wish to hold their institutions to account.

Free Speech

This presentation focuses on the right to free speech and its controversies on campus. We explore the NUS’ ‘No-Platform’ policy, its intended and practical effect, and discuss whether certain individuals should be banned from speaking at universities. We examine the notion of ‘safe spaces’, and debate whether students should be protected from offensive or insulting rhetoric, or if hate speech is an inherent tenant of free expression. Furthermore, we look globally to instances in which individuals are sanctioned for speaking out about their beliefs and challenging orthodoxies, and use this to frame the discussion on the relational concept of ‘hate’ ‘insulting’ or ‘offensive’ speech. Overall, we ask whether there are limits on the right to free expression, and whether students have become too censorious in the clampdown of controversial or unpopular opinions at their universities.

Challenging Extremism in Practice

This workshop provides pragmatic advice on the ways in which students can challenge extremism on campus. This can involve effective methods to mobilise individuals and student groups, run social media and grassroots campaigns, and use the resources available to raise awareness in combatting intolerance. We also cover students’ legal rights, the Prevent policy, and the obligation on universities to intervene when extremism manifests at their institution. We discuss groups that regularly target universities, and the methods that they use in order to promote their illiberal ideologies. Consequently, students will be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to challenge extremism on a practical level at their universities.

Radicalisation & Students

This presentation focuses on the nexus between students, extremism and terrorism. We look into why students are particularly vulnerable to radicalism, illustrated by the link between British Jihadi fighters and Higher Education. The session covers the ‘pre-criminal space’, the arena in which extremist ideologies thrive before illegal activity manifests, and the civil and governmental challenges in reducing radicalisation. We look into the pull factors and contemporary critical theories that explore the pathway into terrorism, and discuss whether there are policies or procedures that can increase young peoples’ resilience.  Furthermore, we demonstrate the similarities between recruits to various extremist ideologies including Jihadism and Neo-Nazism.

Non-Violent Extremism & its growing legitimacy

This session covers the complex and controversial issues surrounding non-violent extremism. This is an opposition to liberal, democratic values and an intolerance to those of different faiths and beliefs. In recent years, we have seen a growing sympathy for these types of views in the name of cultural sensitivity, and consequently they have gained popularity and pervaded the mainstream. Examples include support for (or refusal to condemn) Female Genital Mutilation, terrorism in the name of resistance, and the imposition of religious practises on secular society. Groups encompassing such illiberal beliefs often promote themselves as humanitarian advocacy organisations, and lend their support to popular grassroots campaigns. This increases their mainstream legitimacy, and they are often welcomed onto campus and given an unchallenged platform to advance their views. We discuss the legal barriers to hate speech, and the balance between free speech and the curtailment of intolerance and prejudice. We examine the danger of dogmatism, the harm and divisive nature of non-violent extremism, and its link to terrorism.