Hosted by the university’s Centre for Ethnicity and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of its knowledge exchange programme, the project is led by Therese O’Toole, senior lecturer in sociology, with research assistant Stephen Jones.
Already under way are discussions, bringing in academics, researchers, policy-makers and representatives of different communities, on two crucial themes.
The first asks whether Muslims are effective participants in governance or victims of policies over which they have little influence. The second explores the implications of the coalition government’s emphasis on Christianity in a multi-faith society and the role of faith in public service delivery.
Fierce arguments about state funding for faith schools, for example, have made questions of religion and public policy both highly visible and hotly contested.
Public Spirit is designed to provide a space for accessible and recent research and serious analysis of the core issues.
Over the next few months, it will be hosting further discussions on who gets to speak for particular religious groups; what “muscular liberalism” means for faith and integration; and how to achieve the right balance between promoting equality and recognising religious difference.