LSE opens new unit to examine faith and public life

A NEW Religion and Global Society research unit has opened at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) with the aim of understanding how faith influences the public sphere.

The unit, funded by a £1.25million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust in March 2021, is led by the director of the LSE Faith Center and the LSE Religion and Global Society, the Reverend Professor James Walters, who is also the university. chaplain. It has eight staff members.

A range of online resources, educational programs, conferences and workshops will be made available to researchers, policy makers and practitioners. These will be developed on the basis of three axes: creating plural spaces; women of faith and peacebuilding; and climate change and interreligious relations.

Professor Walters explains: “Our unity goes beyond the question of whether or not religions are a ‘good thing’. We simply cannot ignore the fact that three quarters of the world’s population have a religious faith, and demographic change means that this proportion is increasing, not decreasing.

LSEThe LSE Faith Center

“So if we want to meaningfully address the climate crisis, conflict and human rights issues; we need to understand different religious ways of thinking and being.

The unit might be seen as a “surprising” undertaking for a secular social science institution, he said, but given the proportion of LSE graduates who have gone on to civil society and political leadership, the university should support an understanding of how religion might influence decision-making on social and political issues.

“Our ultimate goal will be to mobilize faith community leaders and policy makers to have a meaningful impact on solving some of the world’s greatest challenges,” he said. “For example, if we want to achieve true climate mobilization or conflict resolution, we need to better connect with those large numbers of people for whom faith is their central guiding principle.”

The unit has a broad schedule over the next two years. In November, the research team is due to present its preliminary findings at the AAR conference in the United States. In 2023, the unit will release a podcast on women of faith and peacebuilding. In 2024, it must publish throughout the year academic articles on each research area, produce methodological guides related to its work and lead workshops and events on its research areas.

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