NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University students enrolled in an advertising and promotion course in the Rusche College of Business are embarking on a challenge to help counter violent extremism as part of a national competition.

In Edventure's Peer to Peer: Challenging Extremism competition, students must create and activate their own social media campaigns to challenge violent extremist ideology, propaganda and recruitment by creating positive, alternative or counter narratives, according to the competition's guidelines.

Dr. Marlene Kahla, professor in SFA's Department of Management, Marketing and International Business, explained that although the project may be in its initial planning stage, the students are already working to effectively promote their message.

Students have organized into departments, such as account planning, creative, media and social media, finance and research and are evaluating ideas for logos, tag lines and the overall campaign theme.

"This project is a great opportunity for students to develop a campaign from the ground up," Kahla said. "They will be involved with every aspect of the campaign and learn a variety of creative and tactical skills."

As a prelude to the project, Dr. Michael Tkacik, director of SFA's School of Honors, spoke to the class about the definitions of terrorism and violent extremism to help lay the foundation for the students' research.

"This background discussion of terrorism is important because it allows us to understand the motives and behavior of violent extremists," Tkacik said. "Just as important, it allows us to begin to see the shape of future behavior and counter it."

Throughout the semester, students will continue to research and build the campaign.