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Identities and beliefs are concerned with who we perceive ourselves to be, as individuals and groups, and how this shapes the ways we behave.

Identities and Beliefs

Identities and beliefs is concerned with some of the most central questions about human behaviour and social interaction. Key aspects of this theme’s research are:

  • Studying who we perceive ourselves, and others, to be and why.
  • Exploring the shaping of identities through time, space, experience and encounters.
  • Investigating how convictions shape the ways we behave.

Research in this area will:

  • Help in negotiating tensions that arise between national and regional identities.
  • Facilitate inter-religious dialogue and understanding.
  • Inform reflection on current discussions about the ‘Big Society’ and the role of voluntary and third sector organisations and their partnerships with government.
  • Shape policy and practice in medical and religious institutions.

Our impact

  • Two projects are helping to inform and reshape the teaching of RE in secondary schools. Research into biblical texts and environmental ethics by Prof David Horrell and Dr Anna Davis is helping to find ways of enhancing RE teaching at GCSE and A-Level. Work by Prof Esther Reed and Dr Rob Freathy is developing an approach to teaching the Bible based on narrative philosophy and theology.
  • Prof Francesca Stavrakopoulou is a regular on TV and presented her own series for the BBC, Bible's Buried Secrets, each episode of which was seen by more than 1.5 million people. The series used recent archaeological and historical research to challenge many important beliefs about biblical characters and stories which are central to both Judaism and Christianity.
  • Prof Paul Cloke's research has examined the role of faith-based organisations in providing welfare and care services for marginalised people in European cities. The research emphasised the scale and impact that faith-motivated individuals and groups are achieving in serving and caring for homeless people, asylum seekers, victims of trafficking, victims of indebtedness, and other socially excluded groups, with implications for policy-making in these areas.

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