The DEBEST-program aims at understanding the process through which teachers and students in diverse secondary schools in Brussels polarize towards extremist ideologies. In order to deal with diverging values in classroom settings and to foster social cohesion, we will investigate school practices and assess the effectiveness of instruments to manage this process. The program’s kernel focuses on the Brussels Metropolitan area since the region has to deal with a culturally and linguistically ‘superdiverse’ youth bulge. It aims at evaluating and reinforcing the existing initiative (by the EhB) “Democratic Dialogue” –an instrument to deal with hot topics in classrooms‐ by making it evidence based. Moreover, DEBEST will focus on ways to “teach the controversy” in order to foster democratic civic attitudes and historical consciousness.
Finally the program will develop effective long‐term instruments to empower the ‘first‐line actors’, the teachers and their students. DEBEST will support the development of inquiry-based professional learning communities (the current “Onderzoekende School”-‐initiative by BILD-IDLO) aimed at strengthening the knowledge-base and competencies of teachers and school-teams in diverse secondary schools in the Brussels region. The proposed program is future‐oriented. It focuses on two specific initiatives but with the explicit aim to build a knowledge platform that enables the research to attract additional research funding.