Faiths & Civil Society Unit

The Faiths & Civil Society Unit is a centre of excellence linking research, policy and practice in the field of faith-based social action.

The most secular century - the 20th century - has given way to a recognition that it was really no such thing! Religion and belief have certainly changed but they didn't go away after all. The welfare project after 1948 certainly professionalised and secularised health and social care. It also effectively 'invisibilised' faith based welfare in the process. But faith groups continued to contribute at the margins and with the poorest. When the welfare settlement started to give way after 1979, the mixed economy of welfare made faith groups 're-visibilised' as they have increasingly taken their place alongside a whole range of non-state providers of services of all shapes and sizes. During the 2000's, Britain's New Labour governments introduced all sorts of policies and funding streams to engage the faith-based contribution. Now in a post-crisis climate, policy has shifted once again from community, collaboration and empowerment, to enterprise, philanthropy and self-start. Alongside is a rejection of the multifaith paradigm and the revalorisation of the Church of England as a Christian lead for the contributions of all the religious traditions.

Whilst today's politicians insist that Labour 'didn't do God' - and the incumbents do - the reality is that politicians the world over 'do God' in different ways. Neo-liberal states everywhere are engaging faith-based groups to plug the gaps as states withdraw. Governments of all colours want to work with faiths. It's how they do it that differs.

The Faiths & Civil Society Unit explores this in research through three lenses:

Politics and Policy: how decision-makers engage and shape faith-based social action in the public realm, and what this says about deliberation, participation, inclusion and social justice.
Sociology and Society: is society secular, post-secular or complexly both? How should we think and talk about religion in society, and what are the pressing issues?
Professional Practice: what do faith-based social actors do, how do they do it, what are the impacts, and what are the challenges?

A pressing theme throughout is religious literacy - in all three areas, what is the quality of conversation and debate about religion and belief in societies which had thought themselves secular but are re-discovering themselves as complexly Christian, post-traditional, secular and plural?

These issues come together in interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange to help religion, belief and non-belief groups, policy-makers and practitioners work together effectively.

Key activities include:
A network of Research Fellows
The Religious Literacy Programme
Seminars and events

News & Events

Our new FCSU Events Series 2013-14 brings together the varied experiences of the Unit’s Fellows, to discuss a range of topical issues relating to the role of faith in the public realm. FCSU Fellows Events Flyer

Each event will be led by a Fellow of the Unit and are open to all. Fellow's Briefings to accompany the events will be posted here.

The next event in the series is: 14 May, 2014, 5-7pm RHB 137 Faith in the Public Realm Dilwar Hussain of New Horizons in British Islam.

To register for an event contact

Philosophy, Religion & Public Policy - A two-day conference at the University of Chester as part of the AHRC Philosophy and Religious Practices Research Network, 8th & 9th April. Call for papers open until 28th February. For further details contact Carly McEvoy:  +44 1244 511031. Register for conference

Prof. Adam Dinham, Director, FCSU, will be the keynote at this conference.

Workshop: Sense of belonging in a diverse Britain, 20-21 November 2014, Coventry University The Dialogue Society, Birmingham Branch in partnership with Coventry University’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies invites abstracts from scholars and relevant practitioners who wish to share and explore ideas and research findings concerning the sense of belonging in contemporary Britain’s diverse society.

Westminster Faith Debates - Global Religious TrendsIn our increasingly globalised world, religion is changing fast. Policy needs to keep pace. Leading experts and public figures come together in the 2014 series of WFDs to analyse the major trends and discuss their implications.  Details 

Religious Literacy for Equality in Religion or Belief: Following a programme of work the Religious Literacy Programme at Goldsmiths undertook with the EHRC, the following reports are now available -  reports on the open dialogues and summative conference,  an overall programme summary and literature review. Read more...

Ramadan and Exams: Professor Adam Dinham writes on the topic of the coincidence of Ramadan and the exam period in the coming 4 years. Read More

Christianity and the University Experience - The first publications from this Religion & Society Research Programme project are now available. See the CUE website for details.

Social Work and Spirituality: The journal International Social Work have published a special edition focusing on issues relating to religion and spirituality and social work practice and teaching. See details.


Fellow's Briefing

FCSU Fellows are leading academics, practitioners and policy-makers with an interest in the role of faith in civil society. In this latest briefing, we hear from Rebecca Catto, Centre for Social Relations, Coventry University on Rebecca Catto Briefing

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Content last modified: 07 Apr 2014

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