Academic Foundation – Method and Execution

The method introduced is developed by Coretta & Martin Luther King Institute for Peace and is therefor derfor protected by law ©.

Target Group
are young people on their way to fall outside, who experience exclusion, who are in contact with environments that are outside society and who want to move to inwardness.

By inclusion we mean perceived belonging, being seen, wishing to enter social norms and a recognized community when the youth themselves experience being excluded. In this way, young people can contribute their inherent resources for the benefit of themselves and others.

For us, interdisciplinary collaboration is crucial for the success of working with young people in isolation. We understand interdisciplinarity as a professional conversation between involved actors in a defined structure with common goals. In this way young people can reach further in their adaptability, when the actors around communicate and come to a common understanding of the problem.

The Empower program

Key words for the Empower program are TIME, RELATIONSHIP, REFLECTION AND LEARNING through guidance (mentoring) and creative teaching.

The Empower program is divided into three parts:

1) One-on-one follow-up. Social work mentoring.

2) Pedagogical courses that facilitate reflection, learning and change.

3) Th King base. A hangout for young people for socializing and positive relationship building.

Read more about the Empower program here


We are a supplement to the interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral crime prevention work on a local and national level. Our focus is on young people in isolation, especially in extremist groups and gangs, who themselves want to enter a process of change.

We cooperate with the Prison and Probation Service on the execution of sentences for young offenders. In addition, we have established a project with SaLTo Groruddalen (districts Bjerke, Grorud, Stovner and Alna) to contribute to the districts’ work with extremism and gang issues.

We have developed a comprehensive program that enables long-term follow-up and support for young people who need this. It has a background in social science and conflict science experience and research.

Academic Foundation – Method and Implementation 

The target group

are young people on their way to fall outside, who experience exclusion, who are in contact with environments that are outside society and who want to move to inwardness.

By exclusion we mean to be on the way out of social norms and recognized communities, and to stay outside social norms and / or recognized communities.

By inclusion we mean perceived belonging, being seen, wishing to enter social norms and a recognized community when the youth themselves experience being excluded. In this way, young people can contribute their inherent resources for the benefit of themselves and others.

In the Institutes’ focus on youth, we operate with an expanded concept of youth, as we believe that the problem of juvenile delinquency, gangs and extremism requires a flexible adaptation. The age group we work with in this pilot is continuously adjusted in relation to the Prison and Probation Service’s needs.

The program has three components:

  1. One-on-one follow-up / guidance (mentoring), with a focus on relationships, long-term follow-up / guidance or “fellow walking”. 
  2. Dojo, an educational platform, which focuses on reflection, training, mastery and learning.
  3. The base, a place where young people can come and hangout that provides space for social gatherings, relationship building and guidance in the environment.

About our professional approach

Our professional approach is based on several disciplines: the social sciences, the conflict disciplines, the pedagogical disciplines, etc.

Social work is long-term change work. According to Erik Larsen, social pedagogical work must contribute to “creating opportunities for children and young people in their situation to work with their adaptability and development.” (Larsen 2004). If we facilitate arenas where young people can work on their own change, instead of making the changes on their behalf, we are involved and empower them. Empowerment is about how individuals gain control over their own lives so that they can realize what they want both as individuals and groups.

How do you change? In Paulo Freire’s understanding, it is about raising awareness, to mobilize the individual’s resources, both in prevention and self-help. In his dialogue teaching, he described the teacher as a fellow traveler, and that learning takes place through the students’ reflections on their own actions. When this happens, the young person gets an experience of meaning and context. Aaron Antonovsky describes that a person experiences meaning and context when a) one understands the situation, b) experiences that one can manage to find solutions and c) experiences life as meaningful. When you have this experience, you will enjoy life to a greater extent, and it leads to greater coping ability. Antonovsky called his perspective salutogenesis, “what contributes to health”, and is about building on what makes you healthy, what is often called resilience factors. If we build up the resilience factors of young people at risk, they will be better equipped to move out of a negative development and become participating citizens.

As Paulo Freire lifts up the student’s reflection on his own action in a work of change, we see that neuroscience also states that we are largely shaped through practice. “The transformation of the self takes place when the brain concretely forms new nerve connections through practice and experience” (Kaja Jensen Rahte in Malabou, 2004). To change, we practice and reflect on experience. 

NOU 2015: 18 points out that recent research emphasizes learning in social interaction, and that research supports that the learning environment must be perceived as safe and based on good relationships. Furthermore, the report describes that the best practice is the one that actively engages the participants in their own learning, which makes them understand their own learning processes and promotes active communication and collaboration. We find this again in the sociocultural learning theory. The focus shifts from the individual to the learning community. Lev Vygotsky described the individual as an active and meaning-seeking being, and that developmental processes start in an interaction where our actions are broken against the environment, before there is a development or change on the individual level.

When we work with behavior change, we bring a systems theory perspective into the work. Systems theory emphasizes the situation here and now, and the possibility of change. It is a perspective that lifts the gaze to something more than the behavior of an individual, but takes into account that the individual is part of a larger context, a system. In order for behavior to change in a lasting and healthy way, we need to look at the individual, at the relationship between two people, in and between groups (such as family and friends), and in and between society and culture. All these systems are mutually influential to each other. One of the strengths of the system perspective is that it is possible to change perspective from the whole to specific parts, and back to the whole again.

The mentor and the mentor’s approach are important. Psychologist Carl Rogers is best known for the development of “client-oriented therapy”, a direction that has also characterized the field of guidance. It is his thoughts on basic circumstances for learning, his so-called “core conditions” that are interesting to us in this context. Rogers first talks about a genuine present of the supervisor when a person meets another person in a learning situation. He then points out that the supervisor values ​​the person seeking guidance, through an appreciative attitude and approach that creates trust between the supervisor and the pathfinder. It is a relational approach with an emphasis on empathy – that is, an ability to understand the pathfinder, or perhaps rather a strong desire to understand. The understanding of “the whole person” becomes important, where a whole mentor meets a whole pathfinder.

One- on one follow up 

Time and relation 

The figure to the right exemplifies how we approach individual youth and set up a follow-up program with the individual.

Time and relation are the basic elements of this work.

In the supervision phase / mentoring phase, there will be close contact between the supervisor / mentor and the individual.

During the guidance phase, the youth will be introduced to the Dojo. This will be an important contribution to the change process, and an important arena for reflection, learning and mastery. The dojo concept is explained in more detail later in the document.

The supervisors / mentors will be followed up through internal supervision interviews at the King Institute with senior staff who also have long supervision experience and competence and at the same time have good knowledge of the focus area in the project.


Mastery, reflection and change

A holistic approach

Every human being is part of a larger whole. When we work with young people, young people are always part of a bigger picture: a family, a school and friends. There are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, girlfriends, teachers, coaches, social workers and more, and they are all interdependent. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote:

«We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. »

At King Dojo, we also want the holistic approach to shape everything we do. It is about working at different levels – individual, group and societal. It is about working with themes that challenge and develop the whole person. And it’s about having a physical meeting place that invites you to come the way you are.


Since we use a number of terms in our approach that may be unknown to many, we want to explain them.

Dojo: is a Japanese term and means “the place for the road”, and has the shape of a gym. In a King Dojo, we generally train on the “King’s Way”, a path to peace, justice and reconciliation. When we talk about a dojo, we are talking about the course itself over 6 weeks. This includes the weekly gatherings and experiments we do along the way.

Experiments: Between the weekly gatherings, the participants carry out various exercises, often called experiments, to emphasize the playful and exploratory approach to the topics. These are exercises that help the participants to practice different habits and tools related to the topic, which will help them in everyday life.

Supervisor: The manager of each dojo is called a supervisor. The supervisor’s task is to meet each individual participant before a dojo, lead the meetings and be the contact person along the way, and have a conversation with each participant after the completed dojo.

King Dojo Base: Dojo is often used both about the physical space in which the training takes place, in addition to what happens there. To make it clear that we can conduct a dojo both in our own premises and outside, we have chosen to call our premises King Dojo Base.

King Dojo methodology


Inspired by the different degrees in the martial art of karate, we have chosen to have a progression through some very basic themes that we believe are universal for all people, regardless of ethnicity, gender and religion.

The first King Dojo is called Basic. This is an introduction to all the themes we focus on in the various dojos, with a taste of each collection. Here, the participants will be introduced to the topics of conflict management, life skills, self-insight, leadership, societal impact and values, and get some tools to work with this in their lives. For some this will be enough, for others it will be necessary to go deeper into the various topics in a separate dojo.

What does a King Dojo look like?

A typical King dojo will have weekly gatherings over 6 weeks, with different themes for each gathering. Each session is led by two supervisors, and has between 6 and 10 participants. It is a direction towards practice throughout the collection, a practice that is carried out during the week. We experience this as creating change.

A typical dojo collection will have 5 different phases:

1) Zone in (introduction)

At the first gathering, we introduce King Dojo as a concept, the theme for the dojo and what to go through at the various gatherings. We present “Zone in” with pep and silence, before we implement this. The first gathering includes a get-to-know-you exercise, for example where each participant says their name, why you got it and what it means.

We start the other gatherings with “Zone in” exercise, before spending the rest of the time talking about how things have been since the last time: How have the experiments gone? What has worked, what has not worked? How did you experienced it? Have you had any experiences from last week that you want to tell about? 

Time: about 30 min

Elaboration: “Pep” (a type of mantra) is to say something about what the dojo room is about. In a dojo, it is important to define the values ​​in the room. This can be respect, equality, listening, etc. We explain this in the first gathering, before we say the “pep”. Together with a few minutes of silence, this helps to gather us before we start the first gathering.

(Tune in – Schulman)

2) The reflection ladder (“input”)

Each gathering will have an “input” (text, video clips, audio clips, etc.) as a starting point for reading, meditation and discussion. These can be lyrics or sound clips from Martin Luther King jr, Gandhi, the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha and more, clips from relevant movies and the like. The input will be an introduction to the theme of the collection. The participants see, hear or read the input together, before going separately to notice words / expressions that stand out, feelings that arise in the face of the text, what the message is and how to respond. We end this phase by discussing what we have meditated on.

Time: 30 min

Elaboration: The desire is to open up the reflection for the group, on several levels. The reflection is divided into three parts: “input”, inner reflection, reflection in conversation. Inner reflection with a meditative approach, here means sitting with the input that is presented, listening to it, feeling how one reacts to it. Listening to the input together, and then listening to oneself, provides a good starting point for a short conversation about input.

3) Theme (teaching)

Each collection will have a teaching on the topic of the collection. The supervisor has a short lesson, always with interaction. Often this will be in the form of an exercise that is linked to some elaborations, explanations and discussions. There is always at least one exercise, preferably several.

Time: 30 min

Elaboration: In the first gatherings there is a high degree of practice, while the last sessions may to a greater extent have more “regular” teaching.

4) Theory to practice, «TtP»

The teaching will end with an invitation to turn theory into practice, through specific exercises. Participants will be introduced to some possible main categories of practice, and asked to sit for themselves and come up with possible experiments for themselves for the coming week. The group gathers afterwards to share, discuss and help each other to have good experiments.

Time: 30 min

Elaboration: Experiments in this case are about adding some good habits, changing some bad habits, or doing some individual practices that give a deeper understanding of the topic you are working on. By committing to doing some practice for the next gathering, it is easier for the group to hold each other accountable and support each other. The first gatherings in a dojo will largely have planned exercises, while as the participants become more experienced, they can let them invent exercises themselves.

5) Zone out

The gathering ends with a minute of silence to let impressions, thoughts and feelings from the collection sink in, and to get ready to go out into everyday life again. We end with a greeting of peace.

Time: 5-10 min

Elaboration: The greeting of peace here means making a physical movement to each other (bending, holding the shoulders) in what we say “Peace”. Here it is also possible for the group to make their own peace greeting. The purpose is to wish each other all the best for the next time we see each other, help lower any tensions, and link the group together in what the King Dojo represents.


A social community for relationship building and affiliation

Our experience is that youth initiatives and programs are strengthened by having a physical room where young people can come by unannounced or agreed. During visits, young people can meet conscious and trained volunteers with whom they can build relationships and feel safe.

The Kingbase (see photos) is located in Pilestredet 27 and is open three evenings a week. In addition, employees in the Empower initiative are present during the day. In the evening, a course team of volunteers is responsible for the base and what happens there.

The base has a conversation room, course room, PC room, living room / lounge with shuffleboard, darts, Playstation etc. 

Volunteers who will work at the base must go through a 4-day course, must sign our ethics declaration and no criminal record. They are followed up by supervisors from the King staff.

What knowledge or experience is the measure based on?

All those involved in the project have a minimum of 3 years of relevant higher education in addition to relevant further education. They also have extensive experience in the field of working with children, youth and upbringing. The measure is based on previous crime prevention efforts as well as the experiences from participation in the design, organization and operation of street-reducing conflict mitigation measures. Those involved in Empower also have extensive experience and knowledge related to challenges with crime, radicalization, violent extremism and gang problems. Key words here are exclusion that can occur in many forms.

Those involved in the project have experience with interdisciplinary collaboration, among other things through participation in the SaLTo center structure in Oslo, as well as similar measures in connection with the implementation of community service.

The method described is developed by the King Institute and is therefore protected by the Copyright Act / Copyright Act ©.