Our Mission

Voices aims to enable educators to promote and instill values of moral resilience, non-violent problem-solving, and social connectedness among their students in schools by acknowledging and mitigating their own biases. This project seeks to provide an online professional development training opportunity for educators which leverages storytelling and problem-based learning pedagogy to inspire and create agency among participants to combat biases at schools. For our pilot training,  this project aims to reduce Islamic radicalization by amplifying protective factors of targeted violence. 

 

Led by graduate students at Columbia University’s Teachers College under the purview of Dr. Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, the purpose of this research is to inform the design and implementation of a professional development curriculum/ training for individuals working in education settings in the US to address and mitigate ethnic, racial, religious, and social biases and increase resilience in US schools. This study will evaluate the need among US-based education professionals for a professional development curriculum that focuses on story-telling to build resilience.  The curriculum intends to build resilience to Islamophobia and reduce othering, marginalization, and negative narratives in schools. To date, there are limited resources and interventions geared for education professionals on addressing biases in schools among their students and peers through a story-telling medium. 

Registration

Register for the Free Professional Development Course here!

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Meet Our Team

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Amra Sabic-El-Rayess credit Ingrid Skous

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess is a professor, award-winning author and activist who grew up in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. After surviving ethnic cleansing and more than 1,100 days under the Serbs’ military siege, she emigrated to the United States in 1996. By December 1999, she earned a BA in Economics from Brown University. Later, she obtained two Masters degrees and a Doctorate from Columbia University. Currently she is a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College working on understanding how and why societies fall apart and what role education can play in rebuilding decimated countries. She has published on education-related issues and has lectured around the world to adult and adolescent audiences. In her students’ feedback, Amra is consistently praised as one of the most inspiring professors they have encountered.

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess is a professor, award-winning author and activist who grew up in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. After surviving ethnic cleansing and more than 1,100 days under the Serbs’ military siege, she emigrated to the United States in 1996. By December 1999, she earned a BA in Economics from Brown University. Later, she obtained two Masters degrees and a Doctorate from Columbia University. Currently she is a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College working on understanding how and why societies fall apart and what role education can play in rebuilding decimated countries. She has published on education-related issues and has lectured around the world to adult and adolescent audiences. In her students’ feedback, Amra is consistently praised as one of the most inspiring professors they have encountered.

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Joti Ghani

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Vik Joshi hails from Mumbai, India. He has served as an academic advisor for the Bard Prison Initiative, a college-in-prison program, and he is currently a Beyond the Bars Fellow at the Center for Justice at Columbia. The mission of VOICES is to offer educators a professional development experience to introspect, examine biases, develop a toolkit to mitigate bias, and amplify both their own voice, and the voices of their students in the classroom. He sincerely believes in the mission of VOICES, in the diverse, sensitive, and thoughtful people who form our team, and in educators who will join us.

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Kefan Ruan is a second year graduate student majoring in Economics and Education. His passion and interest in his field of study is, in an economic view, to find the best possible solution to existing problems. The VOICES project connects to his passion and interest in trying to figure out the best tool we can use to solve the issue considering all the restraints and conditions . His hope is that his work, even only makes minor changes, can help those who are in need.

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Raul Armenta is part of the VOICES Research Team. He is a master’s candidate under the Sociology & Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University with a particular interest in social justice through education. Through VOICES, he is able to meet and collaborate with a diverse cohort of scholars and practitioners with interests that align with equity and social justice. He hopes to make a greater impact along with VOICES by helping promote the awareness of marginalized communities through taking proactive measures.

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Madelyn signed up for this class to learn about the elite's role in education. Working against radicalization is nicely relevant to her work as a teacher. Often those who become radicalized have lost their first community, school. She hopes her work as an educator can be preventative, reducing radicalization upstream.

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Tina Keswani is an M.A. student in the Communications, Media and Learning Technologies Design program. For the past eight years she has worked in ed-tech partnering with globally recognized universities to support and improve learning outcomes through the creation of digital educational experiences. Her interests lie in understanding technology’s influence on learning, to appropriately design instruction according to both different learning styles and types of access, and to see students as a part of an interconnected, social network that includes their school, community, family, and culture. Her work on VOICES is as lead of the Media, Technology and Creative team.

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Lauren Gonzalez is the team lead for curriculum design and development. Her interest in this work stems from her passion to create safe, inclusive, and equitable school environments to ensure all students have the same opportunity to excel socially and academically. Her academic interests include peace and human rights education, education for civic engagement, and de-radicalization.

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Margaret Kepley is an MA student in the International Educational Development program at Teachers College Columbia focusing on Peace and Human Rights Education. She first became interested in education as a method of preventing radicalization, while teaching in rural Slovakia. She saw first hand how many of her students were targeted to join far-right groups and as teachers, how ill equipped they were at handling biases and disinformation in the classroom. As far-right extremism increases within the US, she is excited to be working on a project to give teachers the tools and language to combat it in their own schools and communities.

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Bala is part of the Testing and Evaluation Team. He is perturbed by the rising communal polarisation and hyper-nationalism around us, and believes that VOICES will help stem the growth of hatred and strengthen people’s capacity for peace.

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Mei is on the Product Testing and Evaluation team within VOICES. She thinks that it is important to promote a variety of narratives and experiences to share the full story, which is why she is passionate about our VOICES project. The VOICES curriculum can equip our audience with the perspective and tools necessary to stem extremism.

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Mir Sana Ullah Khan is a first-year graduate student at the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. He is part of our Monitoring and Evaluation team. Mir is interested in the politics of citizenship and human rights in education. As someone who grew up around conflict, VOICES is close to his heart.

Principal Investigator

Professor

Joti Ghani

Teaching Assistant

Margaret Kepley

M.A. Student in

International Educational Development 

Baladevan Rangaraju

M.A. Student in 

Economics and Education

Meitong Huang

M.A. Student in Economics and Education 

Mir Sana Ullah Khan

M.A. Student in Curriculum and Teaching

Lauren Gonzalez

M.A. Student in

International Educational Development

Chris Henderson

Ph.D student in the International Educational Development program

Gege Dong

M.A. Student in

Comparative and International Education

Dejiyangzong Huaqu

M.A. Student in Economics and Education 

Sümeyye Arpacı

M.A. Student in

International Educational Development 

Vik Joshi

Ph.D Student in 

Philosophy and Education

Kefan Ruan

M.A. Student in 

Economics and Education

Raul Armenta

M.A. Student in

Sociology and Education 

Madelyn Lin

M.A. Student

Teaching Resident

The Research and Tool Conceptualization Team

Tina Keswani

M.A. Student in the Communications, Media & Learning Technologies Design

Matt Giles

M.A. Student in Education Policy

Shola Roberts

Ed.D. Student in Dance Education Program 

Tinglei Huang

M.A. Student in TESOL

Zhiguang Lai

M.A. Student in 

Economics and Education

The Media, Technology and Creative Team

The Curriculum Development and Design Team

The Tool Testing and Evaluation Team

Matthew Giles is earning his M.A. in Education Policy. His work on VOICES includes social media and creative content. Working with a team to create tools and learning opportunities for teachers has become a focus of his coursework. The Invent 2 Prevent project created an opportunity to collaborate with minds focused on meaningful change.

Shola K. Roberts is a dance artist and educator from Brooklyn, NY by way of Grenada,W.I. She is currently in her 2nd year of the TC Dance Education Doctoral program. Shola currently serves as a member of the VOICES Media, Technology and Creative team. Being a part of this team aligns with her message of uplifting people through dance. Shola is extremely passionate about the arts and her Caribbean culture and is grateful for the opportunity to share her passion for dance to inspire, touch and change lives.

Tinglei's passion for the VOICES project is rooted in her faith in Education and her concern about increasing extremism. Her work on VOICES includes creating curriculum, VOICES websites, content for social media. She also designs visual materials for VOICES. 

Zhiguang is passionate about the program because it helps prevent people from bias and indifference and bridges the gap between religious ideals and the real society to some extent. He believes education plays a significant role in conquering the challenges brought by the constantly emerging radicalisms.

Chris Henderson is a doctoral fellow in the International Educational Development program. For the past 10 years Chris has worked in education in emergencies, focused specifically on teacher professional development, adolescent development, and gender. Most recently he has worked with the World Bank, UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation. Having lived and worked in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Bangladesh, Chris is passionate about broadening people's understanding of and appreciation for the Islamic world.

Gege's research interests are Human Rights and Peace Education, Social Economics and Sustainable Development, Social mobility, Leadership, and Elite Formation. Her passion is to inspire students and educators to explore, improve, and encourage one another while living in a diverse and inclusive global environment through innovative, helpful, influential, strong, and resourceful curriculum and pedagogy. The VOICES initiative offers a nurturing network with committed passion and dedication to bring educators together to cultivate themselves, support one another, and address realistic educational problems. She believes that VOICES will lead by example to cultivate an environment where everyone feels valued, heard, and has a sense of belonging, thus educators will create lasting positive change for our future education field together and the world around us.

Dejiyangzong Huaqu is a current MA student in Economics and Education program. She is interested in the economic impact of brain drain in developing countries and the role of education in social transformation and economic growth. Working on the VOICES project helps her conduct in depth and close studies of interest in her field and she really enjoys the process.

Sümeyye Arpacı is a master’s student in the International Educational Development program at Columbia University. Her concentration is Peace and Human Rights education. She is against all types of violence and terrorism towards any group in any part of the world including the USA. She believes that education is the most powerful way to create sustainable peace all around the world, and so she is passionate about the VOICES project. She is a part of the Tool Development and Design group.