Radicalisation Research and Prevention in Germany: Building a Monitoring System and Transfer Platform

The research project MOTRA (Monitoring System and Transfer Platform Radikalisierung) aims to tackle the issue of radicalisation in Germany by improving evidence-based knowledge and by strengthening broad cross-sectoral dissemination and networking.

The MOTRA project will create a central monitoring platform for the early detection and prevention of extremism and serve as a contact and information point for scientists, authorities, civil society and policy makers. The researchers are carrying out systematic and holistic monitoring of root cause dynamics and driving factors of Islamist violent radicalisation in Germany. They investigate the interrelationships with other extremist milieus and include international perspectives. The network will reach out to projects and initiatives already working in this dynamic field. Over the next five years, the consortium will receive EUR 12 million in funding from the German Ministry for Education and Research in the context of its civil security research programme.

Project website



December 2019 – November 2024

Related projects

At present, an increase in politically and religiously motivated radicalization is being observed in Germany. This development is reflected, among other things, in politically motivated crime, violence and in forms of expressive hate crime. Social phenomena such as radicalisation, extremism and even terrorism are a permanent challenge for both the security authorities and society more broadly. In this context, violent extremism must be understood as a result of inadequately regulated social conflicts, which require the simultaneous consideration of three variables: the person acting, the ideology motivating action and the respective environment. These are highly interdependent.

Particular attention is therefore paid to the aspect of detecting and addressing extremism before it can turn into violence. To this end, knowledge of the extent, development, forms and causes of politically and/or religiously motivated extremism must be systematically recorded and analysed. Analogous to an increasingly complex process of radicalisation, a dynamic increase in corresponding research and practice activities can be observed both nationally and internationally. The development of structures for a more comprehensive, coordinated transfer of insights within and between the fields of science, politics and practice is lagging behind this rapid expansion of knowledge.

This is where MOTRA comes in: it aims to contribute to a comprehensive evidence-based design of policy and practice.

MOTRA pursues two central objectives:

  • Empirical-analytical objective: Monitoring of diverse strands of radicalization in Germany

    The holistic and systematic monitoring is implemented by means of multi-method, longitudinal phenomenon/trend analyses or in-depth case analyses. Systematic phenomenon monitoring enables a faster identification and classification of new phenomena and serves as a basis for prognostic statements on significant phenomenon developments.
  • Structural objective: Improved transfer between science – practice – policy

    The transfer platform offers a forum for exchange based on a continuously updated inventory of current research findings. Research initiatives already existing in this field in Germany will be invited to promote synergy effects. With the help of this central platform, knowledge gained through monitoring will be communicated to the academic community, civil society, authorities and policy makers the with the aim to significantly shorten the time lag between the generation of research findings and their application context.

    The typically interdisciplinary character of this research plays a major role for MOTRA and is reflected in the numerous partners from science, politics and practice whose participation in the network is essential for the rapid and successful transfer of knowledge among the three areas.

The Berghof Foundation will add insights and methods from peace and conflict studies to the interdisciplinary approach of the consortium. Building on its experience as convener of spaces for dialogue and conflict transformation, it will enrich the consortium research by bringing together yearly expert panels on national, regional and local level. These expert panels have four goals: to (1) engage a broad section of stakeholders in refining (qualitative) research results and methods; (2) engage a broad range of stakeholders in assessing hidden or new radicalisation processes; (3) enable conflict sensitive data collection and knowledge transfer; and (4) connect the empirical-analytic and structural objectives by organising focus groups and stakeholder dialogue.

The project consortium consists of the following core partner organisations:

  • Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), Wiesbaden (lead)
  • Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
  • Kriminologische Zentralstelle e. V., Wiesbaden
  • German Institute for Global and Area Studies, Hamburg
  • Berghof Foundation Operations gGmbH, Berlin
  • Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB) gGmbH, Berlin
  • Universität Hamburg
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

This project is funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research in the context of its civil security research programme.

Engjellushe Morina, Beatrix Austin, Tim Jan Roetman & Veronique Dudouet: Community Perspectives on Violent Extremism: Strengthening local factors of social resilience. Policy Brief, Berghof Foundation, 2019.

Engjellushe Morina, Beatrix Austin, Tim Jan Roetman & Véronique Dudouet: Community Perspectives on Preventing Violent Extremism Lessons learned from the Western Balkans. Research Report. 2019.

Karin Göldner-Ebenthal & Véronique Dudouet, with support from Marie Migeon: Dialogue with Salafi jihadi armed groups: Challenges and opportunities for conflict de-escalation, Berghof Foundation, Berlin 2019

Cassandra Schützko & Hazem Elgafari 2017. Preventing Radicalisation and Supporting De-Radicalisation. Approaches and Main Stakeholders in Germany. Berghof Mapping Study (available upon request).

For an overview of Berghof Foundation’s work on Transformative Approaches to Violent Extremism: see this feature.