William Stephens


William Stephens is a PhD student at the Free University Amsterdam. His research looks at grassroots approaches to preventing violent extremism and the policy context in which these take place. He is particularly interested in how practitioners and policy makers from different sectors and organisations work across traditional boundaries in their efforts to prevent polarisation and extremism. His academic work is complimented by practical experience over many years in engaging youth in neighbourhood settings and working alongside them in developing the skills, qualities and attitudes to direct their energies towards positive social change.


Building resilience is increasingly seen as a central approach for preventing violent extremism. Many policies call on practitioners and governments to work together for this goal. Yet, resilience can mean many different things to many different people, with different views on what it looks like and how it can be developed. Is someone resilient if they are not offended by humour or satire? Does resilience come from being committed to national values, or does someone who is resilient hold to their values despite pressure to adapt? In this talk William presents the results of research which traces out the different ways of thinking about resilience to radicalisation that exist amongst policy-makers and practitioners. It is anticipated that tracing out these different perspectives can lay the foundation for deeper discussion on these issues amongst people coming from different stand points. This short talk will be followed by group discussions amongst policy makers and practitioners to explore and unpack the issues raised.