START launches new training course on understanding and preventing radicalization to violence and violent extremism

Through a new self-paced, online training, practitioners and civic actors including law enforcement officers, school officials and community leaders can gain a better understanding of radicalization to violence and violent extremism in the United States. Made available at no cost to learners, thanks to funding from the Department of Homeland Security, the course will also introduce a broad spectrum of community-led activities intended to foster resilience and counter violent extremism.

Developed by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) through funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Training and Education Division, the Community-led Action in Response to Violent Extremism (CARVE) course is designed to increase public awareness of the mechanisms by which individuals and groups radicalize to violence, and promote community engagement in prevention efforts. It provides community-focused, rigorously researched, and academically-informed instruction on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).

“Knowing which training to trust can be difficult when dealing with highly politicized and challenging subject matter,” said William Braniff, START’s executive director. “We hope that our long relationship with empirical research on these topics, our experience teaching about violent extremism at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and our close relationships with CVE practitioners has converged to create a pragmatic training product that will help individuals and organizations engage with this subject-matter with confidence.”

In support of the U.S. National Preparedness Goal, the Department of Homeland Security funded course development and is supporting delivery costs so that START can offer CARVE at no cost to a wide range of learners including law enforcement, community leaders, school resource officers, NGOs and other representatives from educational, government and business organizations.

This online, self-paced FEMA-certified and approved course is designed to accommodate working professionals. Learners will have full, unlimited access to CARVE’s course space for 60 days upon enrollment and will be able to complete the four-hour course at their convenience. CARVE includes a pre- and post-test, video lectures, infographics, ungraded knowledge checks, supplemental readings and links to additional resources.

The introductory module includes two lessons to help participants learn to navigate the course and introduces the course content. The second module, “Radicalization to Violence Awareness,” examines START-supported research about violent extremism and radicalization to violence in the United States. The third module, “Community-Based Efforts for Countering Violent Extremism,” explores a spectrum of community-led efforts to foster resilience to violent extremism and radicalization to violence.

“One of the strengths of CARVE is that is grounded in both research and practice,” said Liberty Day, START’s training manager. “CARVE was developed and designed with input from a wide range of subject matter experts including leading social science researchers, experienced law enforcement personnel, and trusted community leaders. Learners that complete the course will obtain both an understanding of violent extremism that is informed by research but they will also benefit from insights about developing community-led responses as shared by current CVE practitioners.”

By the end of the CARVE training, participants will be able to recall and understand research-based information about violent extremism in the United States and a social science theory of radicalization to violence. The course examines both foundational aspects of the field of study – definitions, typologies, and data – and more nuanced aspects – differentiation between counterterrorism and CVE, the role of resilience, and barriers to successful community engagement.

CARVE is made available through the University of Maryland's Canvas Catalog, an online learning management system, and open to all U.S. citizens and Legal Residents representing state, local, tribal and territorial entities. The course can be accessed through START’s website at https://www.start.umd.edu/training/community-led-action-response-violent-extremism.

FEMA’s National Training and Education Division will list this FEMA-certified and approved course in its registry of approved courses. (Course number: AWR-355-W). 

Housed in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) is supported in part by the Science and Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through a Center of Excellence program led by the University of Maryland. START uses state‐of‐the‐art theories, methods and data from the social and behavioral sciences to improve understanding of the origins, dynamics and social and psychological impacts of terrorism.

Community-led Action Response to Violent Extremism