Castellano integrated the P2P project into his course, POLS 306SL (Introduction to International Relations Service-Learning Lab). Students created and marketed content for an anti-extremism campaign on social media, as well as hosted a conference on April 11 at Boise State titled “One Nation Under the Law.” At this conference, former U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, Rep. John Gannon, Rep. Patrick McDonald, Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue, and Boise State University’s Peer to Peer Combating Extremism Team discussed the threat of sovereign citizens and the need for non-violent political action.
The project lends itself to academic enhancement as students become aware of the use of information by governments to influence and control their populations. This is a central component of the course content, and students enhance their understanding of information’s role in governance with the project. Through this experiential service-learning project, students examine the role of extremism in international politics and its role on state and non-state actor behavior, as well as examine the role of mass communication and public opinion in managing international relations. Because of their personal involvement and reflection on the event, students identify and think critically about their own values on perspectives regarding organizational goals and desired change in the greater Boise community.
Castellano said, “In addition to gaining new insights about social media campaigns with a political focus, students are making the community a more democratic and tolerant place for political discourse on important international issues facing the United States.”