SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– A group of students at Missouri State are working on an ad campaign to raise awareness about targeted violence. The project will focus on violence caused by white supremacist extremism.
The Department of Homeland Security challenged 25 universities around the country to make an ad campaign about domestic terrorism.
Missouri State got the invite.
“Our client, they stated that radicalization to white supremacy is the number one threat that they’re focused on,” said Jordan Galkowski, president of the ad team. “Towards the beginning of the semester we began our research phase, which took us about two to three weeks.”
Teammate Lauren Kerr took notes.
“Some things that are contributing factors to the white supremacist extremism ideology are the ‘us vs. them’ mentality and that practice of othering,” Kerr said.
Another example – not knowing how to make sense of what you’re seeing online.
“Can be a risk factor to falling into misinformation which can lead to radicalization,” Kerr said.
After the research phase, the group came up with ways to get their message across. From podcasts, their website fuseconversations.org, social media advertisements and Instagram account @fuseconversations.
They’re also working on further marketing, such as a conversation-based card game and an online radicalization toolkit. The team says while those features are still being worked on, they’ll eventually be available to the public for more than a month.
“After that we’ll be able to measure the impact that we’ve had, and present all of those findings to our client. And that will be at the end of May,” Kerr said.
If MSU ranks in the top three, it’ll either do a Zoom presentation or head to Washington D.C. The team hopes to repeat as champions after winning $5,000 last year.
“With our prize money we were actually able to purchase a new computer for the classroom which has been really helpful,” Kerr said.
The team named their campaign “Fuse,” which promotes connection, conversation and understanding. Even if they don’t place first, they’ll still have a chance to earn either $1,000 or $3,000.