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The Bible Society / Theos
Faith and Belief on Campus: Division and Cohesion

Theos, in partnership with the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, are proposing a project that will conduct and disseminate new research and analysis about the place of faith and belief on university campuses. It will propose ways in which religious belief and commitment should be understood and fostered on campus and, by implication, in wider society.

This is a topic of significant importance. The place of religion and belief on campus is becoming increasingly contested, with debates over the limits of free speech, religious provision, proselytism and religious freedom all prompting media attention over the past few months. However, despite these issues there has been little quality research into the place of religion in universities and how faith groups ought to relate to and live alongside student unions and university administrations.

We are proposing to remedy that situation. A national quantitative overview will attempt to be the first to actually map each of the faith and belief societies currently operating in British universities. It will then seek to answer the fundamental question of how faith and belief societies can help foster more socially cohesive and peaceful campuses, and reduce marginalisation. This will be achieved through five case studies, which will feature interviews and observations from a sample of universities.

These case studies will be used to answer the following:

1.            What role do faith and belief communities play on campus? Who are the members, how do they work and how do they relate to other university bodies and services?

2.            How do these societies address key issues including religious identity, campaigning, and ensuring free speech?

3.            How effective are they and what can be learnt in terms of better using them to create more cohesive campuses?
 
 


Theos

Theos3
The project is scheduled to take place over two years and will culminate in the following outputs:

1.            A 20,000-word report with specific recommendations for universities, faith and belief societies and student unions on how to navigate issues of religion and belief going forwards. Alongside this, we will publish and distribute a short user-guide, providing a summary of the research and recommendations.

2.            An academic paper on the findings of the research to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

3.            An event bringing together key stakeholders from a wide selection of the UK’s 130 universities (e.g. university Vice Chancellors and Student Unions) to discuss the findings.

We anticipate that this project could be instrumental in changing the cultural perception of religion and belief among students, and that it could prove a valuable resource in developing a more cohesive university culture.