USC Price agrees to study homegrown extremism with Parisian university
Safe Communities Institute Director Erroll Southers sets out to integrate lessons from France into U.S. solutions
The USC Price School of Public Policy has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas to engage in future collaborations, especially in the area of homegrown violent extremism studies.
The MOU seeks to establish cooperative relations and develop academic interchange among the universities over a period of three years in academic collaboration at all levels, exchange of faculty members, exchange of students and joint research activities.
More people departed from France to become foreign fighters than any other European country, said Professor Erroll Southers, director of the Safe Communities Institute at USC Price. Its the same as with Minneapolis [another area of SCI research], which has had more individuals leave than any other U.S. city. Its a unique situation to be engaged in two target-rich environments known for being home for individuals who left to become foreign fighters.
Extremism studies: adopting a comprehensive approach
Southers believes that the United States can learn something from how France addresses the issue of radicalization.
We want to take their lead in examining radicalization and recruitment in the context of a public health problem, as much as a counter-intelligence problem.
We want to take their lead in examining radicalization and recruitment in the context of a public health problem, as much as a counter-intelligence problem, Southers said. Meetings Ive had in France include health professionals such as doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors, along with law enforcement, the military and people from the intelligence community. It wasnt until I was invited to France that I witnessed health practitioners being given an equal place at the table with counter-intelligence and military operators.
This method matches the holistic approach taken by the Safe Communities Institute, which welcomes professionals from the fields of law enforcement, fire department, corrections, probation, transit, public health and mental health into its Public Safety Leadership Program.
It comes from the need to understand that we cant arrest our way out of this problem, so weve got to have practitioners at the table who are in a position to offer resources other than detain, arrest, prosecute and sentence, Southers said.
The idea for the partnership arose from discussions between Southers and Université Paris II Professor Fabrice dAlmeida.
I first met Professor Southers through a meeting with the American Embassy in Paris, and we had a very important discussion on the similarities and differences regarding terrorism in our countries, dAlmeida said. With this agreement, we aim to combine research and student exchange.
As part of the collaboration, Southers has been named a visiting professor at Université Paris II. He is scheduled to return to France this fall and the following spring.