Throughout 2008 the Religion, Justice and Well-being Project organises five separate seminars with experts from across the UK and beyond, academics as well as practitioners, culminating in a major conference in December 2009.

Seminar 1: The Family and Religion

University of Wales, Newport, 25 April 2008

Given that the family is a crucible of religious expression and socialisation, how far can the state intrude upon its autonomy? Do public officials have rights to interrogate the religiously-informed gender-specific and age-specific roles of spouses, partners, parents and children? Can we reconcile religious and secular views on marriage, divorce, adoption, civil (same sex) partnerships and other key family policies?

Convened by Dr Gideon Calder (Reader in Ethics and Social Theory, Newport) and Jurgen De Wispelaere (Lecturer in Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin)

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Seminar 2: Community and Religion

Royal Holloway, University of London, 18 June 2008

How can state and sub-state organisations create and maintain social trust, community cohesion, public altruism, and social capital in diverse, multi-faith societies? How far do residential, educational, vocational and other axes of religious segregation erode social capital, and how can law, policy and institutional design counter-act this? Should local community initiatives build upon or bypass religious identities?

Convened by Dr Jonathan Seglow (Senior Lecturer in Political Theory, Royal Holloway)

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Seminar 3: Healthcare and Religion

University of Central Lancashire, Preston, 18 October 2008

How far is the notion of well-being implicit in healthcare policies encoded with religious norms, in for example, what it means to be autonomous or to enjoy good family relationships? For example, can it be right for decisions on treatment to be arrived at by the patient’s family, challenging the idea of individual consent? Do medical practitioners have the right to refuse to administer treatments that oppose their religious beliefs?

Convened by Dr Niall Scott (Lecturer in Ethics, University of Central Lancashire)

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Seminar 4: Conflict and Reconciliation

Queens’ University Belfast, December 2008

Do conflict and reconciliation commissions work best by bracketing religious differences or by exploring them, by reparative justice or by forgiveness? Which strategies best promote trust and civic solidarity? What role can faith communities play in resolving social and political conflicts which many see as originating in religious difference?

Convened by Dr Cillian McBride (Lecturer in Political Theory, Queens’ Belfast) and Dr Claire Mitchell (Lecturer in Sociology, Queens’ Belfast)

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Seminar 5: Education and Religion

University of Wales, Newport, 16 January 2009

How can the needs of a common citizenship be reconciled with many religions’ desire to maintain themselves through faith schools and religiously-informed curricula? Are faith schools and FE colleges vehicle of separatism or a mode of inclusive accommodation for children of religious parents? More broadly, should school education in a multi-faith society be wholly secular, informed by a religion or comparatively evaluate different religions?

Convened by Dr Phillip Cole (Reader in Applied Philosophy, Middlesex)

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Conference: Religion, Justice and Well-being

University of Central Lancashire, April 2009

A two-day conference to which all workshop attendees (plus select others) – will be invited – about fifty people in total – will enable further reflection on the workshop themes. However, the seminars will interrogate their own themes, destabilise conceptual boundaries and generate new ideas, and the thematic priorities of the conference will reflect this. Most conference attendees will give papers and/or presentations. Fifty people is large enough to enable wide-ranging deliberation, but small enough to retain cohesion. We shall invite two keynote speakers, one academic and one from a faith or policy background.

Main Conveners: Dr. Niall Scott (Lecturer in Ethics, University of Central Lancashire) and Dr. Gideon Calder (Reader in Ethics and Social Theory, Newport)

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