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Preparing Today's Leaders for Tomorrow's Challenges Religious Literacy Leadership Project Professor David Maughan Brown 7 February 2011. Religious Literacy Leadership Project / History Jem Clines: Faiths in Higher Education Chaplaincy

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Preparing Today's Leaders for Tomorrow's Challenges

Religious Literacy Leadership Project

Professor David Maughan Brown

7 February 2011

Religious Literacy Leadership Project /


Jem Clines: Faiths in Higher Education Chaplaincy

Response to DFES “Promoting good Campus Relations” and PREVENT

Partnership approach

Hefce proposal wider network; focus on VCs

Approval of staffing for 18 month project: 0.6 FTE Director; Researcher; P/T Manager and Administrator

VC Champions; materials development; workshops


Religious Literacy Leadership Project /

Religious Literacy: Definition

Religious literacy lies: “In having the knowledge and skills to recognise religious faith as a legitimate and important area for public attention, a degree of general knowledge about at least some religious traditions, and an awareness of and ability to find out about others. Its purpose is to avoid stereotypes, respect and learn from others and build good relations across difference. In this it is a civic endeavour rather than a theological or religious one, and seeks to support a strong, cohesive, multi-faith society, which is inclusive of people from all faith traditions and none in a context that is largely suspicious and anxious about religion and belief.”

Religious Literacy Leadership Project /

What are the benefits of religious literacy in Higher Education?
  • For HEIs:
  • Improving student (and staff) experience – especially for international students
  • Maximizing equality and diversity as a matter of human rights and social justice
  • Community engagement with the range of faith traditions in the area – including ‘hard to reach’ groups (supporting social mobility and WP)
  • Promoting good campus relations/preventing crisis
  • Mitigating complaints especially on the basis of equality law

Religious Literacy Leadership Project /

What are the benefits of religious
  • literacy in Higher Education?
  • For others?
  • Reconsidering the idea of religion as a potential social force – including as a force for good
  • Articulating (for or against) a role for religion in thoughtful, well-argued terms
  • Improving the quality of conversation about religious faith at a time of widespread ambivalence and anxiety about it
  • Contributing to the mobilization of faith-based welfare and social action to address poverty and exclusion through partnership (especially with local and regional groups).

Religious Literacy Leadership Project /

Case Studies (1)
  • Lectures on a Saturday
  • Exams during Ramadan
  • Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism
  • Rumours about provision for Muslims
  • Extremism in the university
  • Autonomy of student societies
  • Religious speech on campus

Religious Literacy Leadership Project /

Case Studies (2)
  • Personal harassment in a sports club
  • Religiously sensitive counselling
  • Faith and student finance
  • Recognition of chaplains
  • Establishing a Genuine Occupational Requirement (GOR)
  • References to religion in lectures
  • Foundational knowledge.

Religious Literacy Leadership Project /

Case Studies (3)
  • Religious observance in halls of residence
  • Choice in the college canteen
  • End of term celebrations
  • Organisation of freshers’ week
  • Attracting local students
  • Interview scheduling
  • Academic freedom and research on martyrdom
  • Researching faith and sexuality.

Religious Literacy Leadership Project /

Typology of HEIs

Soft Neutrality

Hard Neutrality

Repositories and Resources


Religious Literacy Leadership Project /

Religious Literacy: the role of the university

Religious Literacy Leadership Project /

Evaluation recommendations:
  • Monitor religious demography of staff & students
  • Focus project at PVC/Senior Manager level
  • Establish Religion and Belief Working Group
  • Embed consideration of religious faith broadly (not in policy pockets e.g. equalities or chaplaincy)
  • Engage with faith groups and bodies in community
  • Include ‘religion’ as point of reference alongside e.g. gender & ethnicity in reviewing success against KPIs
  • Make resources on religion and belief available to staff and students

Religious Literacy Leadership Project /