A team of five BRAC University students, participating in the EdVenture Partners Peer2Peer: Facebook Global Digital Challenge ( Link ) reached the final stage of the competition and representing BRAC University, Bangladesh and Asia at the finals held in Washington D.C, ranked second in the global competition. The competition managed by EdVenture Partners and sponsored by Facebook, challenges participants to innovate possible solutions to the rise and prevalence of extremism and hate crime on social media in ways that are authentic and credible to their peers and communities. The BRAC University team, formed by the Scholar’s Programme of BRAC University under the supervision of Prof. Firdous Azim and the guidance of advisor Dr. Samia Huq, was selected as one of four finalists from different universities from all over the world. The team competed for the title of this installment of the competition with other teams from the Design Akademie Berlin (Germany), Federal University of Pernumbuco (Brazil) and the Haigazian University (Lebanon). For the final held in Washington DC on the 30th of January,2018 the four judges were Monika Bickert (Director of Global Policy Management, Facebook), Joe Giordono-Scholz (Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy), Dr. Jessica Stern (Research Professor, Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, author and policy consultant) and George Selim (Senior Vice President for Programs, Anti-Defamation League) . The BRAC University team was then ranked a close second after the Design Akademie Berlin.
The team, as part of our bid for the competition, have launched a social campaign titled Get Up Speak Up. The particular problem the team addressed is the shrinking of spaces online, allowing for constructive dialogue between individuals of different backgrounds and experiences. The team recognizes that these spaces are crucial for fostering reflection, empathy and tolerance. With these intentions, the team created a safe space on Facebook, which is the largest social media platform in Bangladesh, in terms of number of users (https://www.facebook.com/getupspeakup/). The team also operates over a website, where it hosts a forum for people to hold dialogue and share experiences surrounding faith and discrimination (https://getupspeakup.org/). In addition to these, Get up Spak Up has hosted several live events and workshops. Bolstered by the encouragement, appreciation and genuine interest in the team’s work shown by the other teams and by the judges and other attendees of the event, team members Adeepto Intisar Ahmed, Fatimah Akhtar and Zareef Tajwar Karim of ESS, Quazi Navila Zaman of BBA and Rojin Ammar of CSE plan to continue their work on youth on and off campuses.