Religious Literacy Encouraged to Solve Post-EU Referendum Racism

15th July 2016

57% increase in reports of hate crime since the EU referendum Religious literacy could help professional and community leaders tackle societal issues A unique new course is set to better understand and combat religious mistrust and stereotyping Understanding the complex relationship between race, religion and social factors could play a part in shaping how leaders tackle the rise in incidents of racial harassment, according to academics at the University of Sheffield.

A new course, which has been designed to address issues in a complexly religious and secular society, could help leaders in society come to terms with such issues as racism and extremism. According to the National Police Chiefs Council, there has been a 57% increase in reported incidents of hate crime since the UK's EU referendum result. Leaders in the world of politics, law, social work, healthcare and the media often have to deal with the relationship between belief and human rights. The course aims to understand this, as well as examine the way this has affected our past, present and future. Revd Dr Jeremy Clines from the University of Sheffield's Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) said: -Many of the people moving across Europe and into Europe have religious identities as well as representing cultures and races. In popular imaginations religious identity can be all-too-readily conflated with well-known examples of people who hold extremist and violent viewpoints that relate to a religion. -That leads to fear and mistrust and stereotyping based on assumptions that people of certain races are likely to be of a certain religion and also hold violent extremist views. Improving the quality of understanding by leaders will help people be better equipped to make informed judgements built around knowledge about our diverse society rather than based on a fear of difference. The course has been designed after successful short courses in religious literacy leadership for government departments, journalists, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Dr Meredith Warren, Programme Director from SIIBS said: -Many leaders have expressed a wish for a more in-depth opportunity to study the intricacies of religious literacy, a subject in which Sheffield is leading the way. -Our programme is constantly evolving and participants' own active research will uncover more questions and answers on the topic. Professor Adam Dinham, Honorary Stephenson Professor at the University of Sheffield and Professor of Faith and Public Policy at Goldsmiths, University of London said: -The course is a practical platform for leaders to engage in questions such as how can journalists represent belief sensitively? -Equipping the public sphere with the ability to have these conversations will be the urgent task of professional training and continuing professional development (CPD) in every sector and setting. The course begins in September with teaching taking place online and two residential study schools each year. Leaders studying part-time can approach the subject on a module by module basis.

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