February 8, 2012

Call for Participants: What does it mean to believe?

What does it mean to believe?

International Symposium: 8th –10th March 2012

Organised by the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society, University of Kent, and the British Council

Applications are invited for a limited number of funded places (covering UK travel, food, and accommodation) to attend this symposium being held at the University of Kent, March 8-10 2012 in Canterbury, UK. International scholars and practitioners will explore the theme: ‘What does it mean to believe?’ in the context of inter-cultural relations. Participants will be post-graduate students or early career scholars in the Humanities, Social Sciences or Sciences or early career practitioners from charities, business, professional networks, media, galleries, museums, government, and NGOs. A particular focus will be on recent events in Egypt and Tunisia with students, scholars, and practitioners attending.

Belief is construed here as an inclusive, far reaching-term that changes meaning through time and across cultural context, encompassing for example, faith, trust, values, identity  and emotional attachment. Political or religious convictions, ideologies and cultural identities, for example, are all sub-sets and different manifestations of belief.  Belief can be the glue that holds cultures and groups together, and also marks the boundaries between groups to set them apart. How is belief used to promote cohesion or discord in pluralistic cultures of diversity, and what can we learn from those experiences?

This symposium will be led by Dr Abby Day, AHRC British Council Fellow, Senior Research Fellow, University of Kent. Keynote and plenary speakers include Prof. Eileen Barker, London School of Economics, UK; Dr Sylvia Collins-Mayo, Kingston University, UK; Dr Ariela Keysar, Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, USA; Prof. Gordon Lynch, Director, Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society, University of Kent, UK; Dr Marat Shterin, King’s College London, UK; Prof. Hakan Yilmaz, Bogazici University, Turkey.

Fifteen session presenters will explore aspects of belief viewed through a holistic model incorporating seven dimensions or perspectives of time, place, content, sources, practice, salience and function.  Symposium participants will be invited to engage throughout with session presenters, key notes and plenary speakers to consider perceptions and behaviours that guide, both explicitly and implicitly, our understanding of what it means to believe: what does this mean to me in my practice/position? What are implications for inter-cultural relations, teaching, research, practice, policy?  What needs to be done and what can we do about that?

Applications to attend as participants should be sent by 10 February 2012. Include name, address, affiliation (university or other organisation) and a brief statement (no more than 200 words) covering reasons for attendance to: Dr Abby Day:  a.f.day@kent.ac.uk


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