Utrecht students win Facebook contest
International success for anti-extremism campaign ‘Dare to be Grey’
A group of students from Utrecht University have won first prize in the Facebook Global Digital Challenge. The students were awarded first place by an international expert jury for their anti-extremism social media campaign Dare to be Grey. First prize is a sum of $5,000. The students will use this money to further professionalise their campaign.
The Dare to be Grey campaign speaks out against the polarisation of society by promoting an open debate in which there is room for nuanced opinions, doubt and diversity and in which people genuinely listen to each other. The campaign lends a voice to the grey masses in between the small group of black-and-white thinkers who tend to dominate the debate.
The only Dutch university
In February 2016, 21 students entered the worldwide Peer 2 Peer: Challenging Extremism contest, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Facebook. Around the world, 45 student teams were tasked with setting up a social media campaign aimed at countering violent extremism. Utrecht University was the only Dutch university to take part in the contest. The initiative for participation was taken by Dr Jacco Pekelder, Assistant Professor of History of International Relations (GIB), assisted by Jorrit Steehouder, Master's student International Relations in Historical Perspective and assistant at the GIB department.
Last week a delegation of the group of students travelled to Washington, D.C. to present their campaign to an international expert jury. They defeated rivals from Belgium and Spain and share the first place with the team from Afghanistan.