Dr Thomas is the author of a new book, Responding to the Threat of Violent Extremism, which analyses and critiques the Prevent strategy. Now he has invited overseas academics to attend the Huddersfield seminar in order to provide their analysis of how Prevent-style educational initiatives have operated in their countries.
Dr Floris Vermeulen and Julia Berczyk of the University of Amsterdam, will report on the Netherlands and Germany. Dr Francesco Ragazzi, of the University of Leiden, will provide an analysis of France and Professor Shelia Gruner, of the University of Algoma in Northern Ontario will provide a Canadian perspective.
The University of Huddersfield's Professor Helen Colley will lead a discussion session, while Dr Thomas will introduce and conclude the event.
"We aim that the seminar will help those delegates who have to implement Prevent on the ground in the UK," he said. "We hope it will help then refine their thinking and further develop their strategies and I also hope it will help me and my colleagues develop our understanding of the complexities and issues around implementing these sorts of policies."
Britain was the first country to introduce the Prevent strategy, said Dr Thomas, and it had influenced educational approaches to deter violent extremism in many countries.
Prevent could and should have been done differently
In the UK, almost £200 million had been spent on Prevent, but it was inevitably difficult to measure the success of preventative educational strategies, he added.
"I think that Prevent is a problematic policy, but we cannot deny that some good things have come out of it," said Dr Thomas.
"It led to some very significant developments within Muslim communities, improved the strength of community organisations and has led to educational work with Muslim young people. But my work has argued that it has been very problematic and Prevent could and should have been done differently.
"I support attempts to do educationally-based preventative work. That's vitally important, because a past approach to domestic terrorism has been just to use the police to crack down on communities and that can be very counter-productive," continued Dr Thomas.
"But I am very critical that Prevent has only worked with young Muslims, and that can further separate those communities from the mainstream. I am arguing that we build resilience against terrorism by building a stronger sense of common identity and common involvement in democracy."
- Dr Thomas's book Responding to the Threat of Violent Extremism: Failing to Prevent is published by Bloomsbury - (http://www.
bloomsbury.) com/ uk/ responding-to-the-threat-of-violent-extremism-9781849666008/