6 Giugno 2022

UNESCO, guide pratiche per il contrasto al cospirativismo



Addressing conspiracy theories through education: UNESCO guidance for teachers

Conspiracy theories thrive in troubled times with serious real-world impacts. In the horrific mass murder recently targeting African-Americans in the U.S. city of Buffalo, the alleged suspect invoked the false “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which purports there is a plot to replace people of European ancestry, driving an international white supremacist narrative founded on racism, antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred.

Education can play a central role in building the resilience, knowledge and analytical skills needed to “pre-bunk” and debunk conspiracy theory narratives, including through media and information literacy. To strengthen educational responses through advocacy, research and training, UNESCO and the European Jewish Congress organized the International Symposium on Addressing Conspiracy Theories through Education on 27 June 2022 in Brussels to convene academia, governments, civil society and the private sector for joint action.

“Whenever there is another murder, killing spree or terrorist attack, whenever there is a new manifesto chock full of conspiracy theories and hatred … Whether you think of Utoya, Norway, or Christchurch, New Zealand, of Halle or Hanau in Germany, of Pittsburgh or El Paso in the U.S., or Buffalo, New York, just a few weeks ago, each and every time it was conspiracy theorists who became the perpetrators of unfathomable violence,” Tobias Ginsburg, a journalist and theater director who has investigated German conspiracy theorists and right-wing fringe group, said at the symposium.

Guidance for teachers and educators

The event also launched UNESCO’s advocacy report ‘Addressing conspiracy theories: what should teachers know?’ The report is an introduction for educators, working in and outside of formal schooling, on how to identify, prevent and address conspiracy theories. It seeks to provide educators with key definitions and essential knowledge to grasp the complexity of the phenomenon and alert learners about the key characteristics and harmful effects of conspiracy theories for a first, immediate response.