Professor Tariq Modood MBE
University of Bristol
Professor Craig Calhoun
London School of Economics
Stimulus paper, June 2015
Our research forms part of the Leadership Foundation membership benefit. This Stimulus Paper PDF is available for members to download by clicking the image below.
Professors Tariq Modood (University of Bristol) and Craig Calhoun (London School of Economics) have written complementary essays in religion for the Leadership Foundation’s Stimulus Paper series, entitled Religion in Britain: Challenges for Higher Education.
The authors have brought together their social sciences expertise to examine the issues around the place of religion in contemporary society and what that might mean for universities. There is a particular emphasis on leaders, particularly those who provide the intellectual and academic leadership.
In ‘We don’t do God’? the changing nature of public religion Professor Modood focuses upon the move from a largely Christian-secular nation to a secular multi-faith one, and the concerns and controversies that are associated with this. He goes on to consider how institutions are dealing with these changes, and what thy might have to do further to manage the freedom and inclusivity of the learning environment that is commonly expected in universities throughout the UK.
In commenting on the issues highlighted in both the essays Professor Modood says:
'Religion is increasingly seeking a public rather than merely a private presence and so is a challenge for public institutions in terms of understanding, accommodation, diversity and equality, and higher education is no exception to this. This confuses many who have a purist idea of universities as secularist institutions and so universities and colleges need to join the rethinking of secularism that is currently taking place.'
In his essay Religion, the public sphere and higher education Professor Calhoun, who leads the London School of Economics, explores how religious public issues intersect with life in universities. What are the challenges from dealing with dissent to supporting students' personal growth? Do universities help the public understand religion better? And how do university leaders, who may or may not be religious, foster incorporate religious diversity into inclusive intellectual communities?
In his foreword Sir Bob Burgess, the former vice-chancellor of Leicester University, says:
‘These are not just issues of intellectual debate, but require practical solutions on a daily basis. He goes on to say ‘In terms of academic disciplines, there is an opportunity to address religious illiteracy among students and staff as opportunities arise where insights from different faiths can inform academic debate and understanding.’
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