About the AVERT Research Network
The AVERT (Addressing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation to Terrorism) Research Network is a multidisciplinary research initiative based at Deakin University’s Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) in Melbourne, Australia. The Network brings together an experienced group of highly engaged and critically informed social science, humanities and multidisciplinary research academics together with community and government partners who believe in conducting meaningful and robust research for the public good.
Through its members around Australia and internationally, AVERT has specific expertise and strengths in research focusing on various points along the continuum of understanding, preventing and intervening in radicalisation to all forms of ideological violence, and the implications and impacts of this for social and community wellbeing. We aim to understand and reduce the social harms created by violent extremism, and how we respond to this, on the fabric of our local, national and transnational communities.
As an Australian based research network, we engage both globally with colleagues, institutions and issues and trends, while remaining strongly grounded in local contexts and knowledge relevant for Australian community and policy landscapes. We are committed to transparency, dialogue and debate regarding the implications and effectiveness of our research and evaluation design, findings and outcomes.
AVERT has four main aims:
- To conduct and disseminate high quality, evidence-based research findings and outcomes that help us understand and create solutions to the social harms created by violent extremist ideology and action across the political spectrum.
- To make research resources and new knowledge available as they are developed and evaluated through seminars, colloquia, publications, blogs and web resources for a wide range of stakeholders including communities, government and other academic colleagues.
- To work ethically and respectfully with community-based approaches, knowledge and expertise in addressing violent extremism through genuine research partnerships and exchange.
- To profile widely the innovative research and applied outcomes conducted by AVERT members and partners locally, nationally and internationally.
What kind of research do AVERT members conduct?
AVERT’s core focus is on critical understandings of what community experiences, perspectives, expertise and solutions can contribute to how we think about preventing or mitigating the many social and community harms posed by violent extremist ideology and action. To do this, we conduct theoretically informed, highly engaged translational research that aims to bring together community members and organisations, government agencies, and academic researchers in new forms of productive dialogue and partnership to examine what we can achieve, what we need to know and how we might do better in reducing the appeal and take-up of violent extremism; supporting and diverting those on pathways to extremist violence, and disengaging actors who have already committed to violent extremist action.
Our research approach is strongly evidence based, combining theoretical work underpinned by robust empirical data and analysis. We have a core focus on multidiscplinary, social science and humanities inquiry across disciplines including sociology, political science, international relations, cultural studies, information systems, digital, media and communication studies, international and regional area studies, religious studies, political psychology, education and criminology. This multidisciplinary strength also underpins our capability to address highly complex research problems and challenges through employing a rich and well-integrated cross-disciplinary knowledge base appropriate to specified research aims and outcomes.
AVERT members are committed to globally informed field-based knowledge and methodological rigour. Our multidisciplinary and social science research expertise enables us to draw on both established and innovative quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods research methodologies relevant for delivering on the design of measurements and instruments; qualitative analysis and insights; participatory and collaborative research design and methods; social policy research and methodology assessment and review; ethical procedures in collecting, analysing and managing research data; multi-method and multi-discipline approaches to designing and managing large and/or complex research projects; and rigorous commitment to peer review, dialogue and debate.
We are also committed to participatory and collaborative research with communities and government. We value the central roles that both communities and government can play in creating new knowledge and developing appropriate local and regional responses to the multi-level challenges posed by terrorist ideology and action. AVERT members’ combined research experience over two decades in collaborative community-based research in the areas of social cohesion, community resilience, cultural and religious diversity and preventing terrorism and violent extremism means we are highly experienced in fostering productive dialogue and treatment solutions for both government and communities through mobilising a range of key voices and perspectives on relevant issues in both the conduct and dissemination phases of our research activities.
Some of the key research questions we aim to address include:
- How can we best counteract the social harms of violent extremism at community level without sacrificing social cohesion and sense of belonging? What role do social institutions and actors such as education, health, employment and community services and organisations play in this context?
- How are digital consciousness and interactions reshaping our understanding of both resilience and vulnerability to violent extremism and terrorism? What digital capabilities and resources should we be creating or strengthening to challenge violent extremism, why and how?
- What trust and information flows are required for equitable and sustainable partnerships between communities and government in addressing violent extremism, and what are the best ways to achieve this?
- Can responses to other forms of social violence help us better understand and deal with violent extremism, and what broad-based strategies to combat violent action can we learn from and apply?
- What can we learn from different cultural approaches to building resilience and reducing social conflict and exclusivism leading to ideological violence?
- What are the intersections between human rights and counter-terrorism legislation, policy and practice, and how can these best be balanced?
Tackling these and other questions means integrating community, government and academic perspectives to create a rigorous and robust research-led evidence base that can lead to new ideas, policies and approaches that strengthen community safety and wellbeing, and address underlying factors that can enhance vulnerability to ideologically based violence.
Specific research topics that AVERT members are already engaged with include:
Understanding violent extremist narratives and appeal across the ideological and political spectrum (right-wing/left-wing, jihadist, lone actor and issues-based terrorism); the return and reintegration of foreign fighters, children and families from conflict zones; image-making, emotion and sensory immersion in violent extremist propaganda and recruitment; gendered perspectives in both violent extremist and P/CVE settings; social influence in both online and offline contexts; trust flows between community and government on P/CVE initiatives; issues for schools and education in tackling issues of radicalisation to violence; the role of youth and community resilience in P/CVE in different national and cultural settings; law enforcement and community engagement; critical perspectives on digital literacy and digital citizenship in resisting social exclusivism; the roles of families and friends in early detection, reporting and intervention; building civil society networks to strengthen resilience to violent extremism in locally meaningful ways; the impacts of eroding or weakening social cohesion on vulnerability to violent extremism, and more.
Information about these and other projects can be found under members’ individual profiles on our ‘Research Members’ page.
What are AVERT’s guiding principles?
The AVERT Research Network’s guiding principles of operation include:
- Serving as a genuine and inclusive consortium of demonstrated research experts and contributors across universities, civil society, communities and government
- Collaboration, not competition; synergies, not silos
- Transparency, trust and respect in how we engage with all stakeholders and partners
- Commitment to evidence-based research and practice drawing on both theoretical insights and empirical data
- Commitment to co-design principles whenever possible to help maximise shared benefits and capacity building
- Research outcomes that deliver clear benefits and impacts for effective policy and practice
- Involvement and engagement of multiple, diverse communities and tiers of government
- Systematic and public sharing, exchange and dialogue on new knowledge and outcomes
- Innovation and rigour in research design and methodologies
- Independent evaluation and review of our research findings and outcomes
- Relationship and connectivity benefits that flow back to all participants in research enterprises
- Broad and deep outreach and communication throughout our networks
- Integrity in promoting independent and constructive critique and dialogue to strengthen the evidence base informing the design and delivery of policy and practice outcomes
Who does AVERT collaborate with on its research projects?
AVERT members collaborate with a wide range of community, government and civil society organisations. For more information about our research partners, please consult individual AVERT members’ profiles.
Who funds AVERT?
AVERT’s research and engagement activities are funded independently by the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.
How does AVERT share its research findings and outcomes?
AVERT members are strongly committed to the wide and accessible dissemination of research findings and outcomes across communities and government. We do so by publicising our research findings through reports, articles, book chapters, press and social media releases, academic resource-sharing sites such as ResearchGate and Academia.com, community-focused ‘return of findings’ seminars and workshops, education and awareness resources, and web-based summaries and fact sheets on our research outcomes. Many of these will be available soon on our ‘Resources’ page, and you can also contact individual researchers to ask for copies of project findings and outcomes in which you’re interested.