In our conversations and collaborations with our partner organizations it is clear that we share a sense of urgency around the need to develop strategies that better respond to increasing religious diversity. We will work with our partners to move beyond tolerance and accommodation to affect a shift in public discourse about religious diversity. Through participation in team conferences as well as ongoing communication, we will work to define core research issues, develop research questions, and enable partners to draw on our research findings in their own work. Since our partners are policy makers or are influential in policy making, developing a reciprocal relationship with them will ensure the continuing relevance of our research to the development of public policy as well as build a sense of shared ownership and networking synergy. Frequent communication with team members (including and especially the executive team) will maintain an open dialogue about ongoing shared interests. The importance of this research means that we will be, from the outset, integrally connected to our supporting communities. Our partners have been involved from the outset of this project and have longstanding links to our team members, often through collaboration in research and policy outcomes. They are key participants in both our research development and dissemination.
Australian Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (Australia) was established by the Federal Parliament and its goal is to foster greater understanding and protection of human rights in Australia and to address the human rights concerns of a broad range of individuals and groups. Through our research, they will link with our other human rights partners on issues of religious diversity. We will work together to create a student internship, and we will partner on research strategy and dissemination.
In 2011, the Australian Human Rights Commission produced a research report entitled “Freedom of religion and belief in the 21st Century,” based on a study developed and implemented by Gary Bouma, Desmond Cahill, Hass Dellal and Athalia Zwartz. Offering policy and education recommendations, this report offers a critical overview of the landscape of religious diversity in Australia and the ways that public and government institutions needs to respond to develop a more inclusive environment for their citizens.
Australian Multicultural Foundation
The aims and objectives of the Australian Multicultural Foundation are to cultivate in all Australians a strong commitment to Australia as one people drawn from many cultures and by so doing to advance its social and economic well-being; the promotion of an awareness among the people of Australia of the diversity of cultures within Australia and the contribution of people from all cultures to the development of Australia; and the spread of respect and understanding between all cultural groups through any appropriate means. We will partner with them on strategies of discourse shifting through a round table discussion and they will use our research to inform their policy work on religious freedom. They will also use our research to inform two major initiatives, and we will work together to create a student internship.
Team member Gary Bouma was one of three researchers involved in the “Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia” research project, funded in part by the Australian Multicultural Foundation.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission
The Canadian Human Rights Commission is mandated to develop and conduct information and discrimination prevention programmes, to foster understanding and commitment for achieving a society where human rights are respected in everyday practices. They will draw on our research results and expertise in their projects related to religion. We will develop a student internship programme with them as well as participate in their annual meeting with provincial human rights bodies.
Our collaboration with the Canadian Human Rights Commission has included consultation on their “Accommodation of Religious Practices” guide as their review of recent research on religion and sex/gender within accommodation requests. In 2014, Lori Beaman and Heather Shipley were invited to give two research presentations at the Canadian Human Rights Commission; one to the Branch Management and one open to all staff at the Commission. In the summer of 2014, Project Assistant Marianne Abou-Hamad coded a shared database of Canadian media articles to consider the representations of religion, culture, diversity and identity as sites of interest for both the Commission and the Religion and Diversity Project. Representatives from CHRC have regularly attended Project team meetings and have consulted on various aspects of project development.
Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Québec)
The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Québec), constituted under the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in 1975, promotes and upholds the principles enunciated in the Charter regarding the protection and promotion of human rights, including the rights of children.
Equality and Human Rights Commission (UK)
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (UK) is a statutory body created to protect, enforce and promote equality across seven protected grounds; age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. The Commission addresses issues of discrimination through a diverse range of practices, including through enforcing the law and influencing the development of law and government policy.
In our collaboration with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (UK), we have worked closely with Karen Jochelson and David Perfect to pursue research exchange applications to facilitate research fellowship at the University of Ottawa and to identify mutual interest in our shared goals around equality issues related to religion.
To access the Equality and Human Rights Commission "Religion or belief" reading list, please click here.
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INFORM (Information Network on New Religious Movements) was founded in 1988 by Eileen Barker (one of our advisors) with the help of British Home Office funding and the support of the mainstream churches. The primary aim of INFORM is to provide policy developers and the public with accurate, balanced, up-to-date information about new and/or alternative religious or spiritual movements. It will act as an important liaison with UK policy makers and will host a workshop to that end. It will also offer employment/internship opportunities for our students.
Project Director, Lori Beaman, was invited to present at INFORM’s State Reactions to New Religions Seminar, in London (2010). Subsequently, team member, Susan J. Palmer participated in INFORM’s seminar, Revisionism and Diversification at the London School of Economics in December 2012 as well as at INFORM‘s Spring Seminar (2016). Jim Beckford has served on INFORM’s Board of Directors and Eileen Barker has served as an Advisory Board member for the Project since 2010.
The Metropolis Project
The Metropolis Project is an international network for comparative research and public policy development on migration, diversity, and immigrant integration in cities in Canada and around the world. They have offered us important opportunities for knowledge transfer, and they will draw our research into their own research and policy networks.
Team members have been involved in multiple Metropolis events and consultations, including their annual conferences. This includes participation by Valérie Amiraux (2010); Paul Bramadat (2012); Lori Beaman and Peter Beyer were invited by Public Safety Canada to participate in the Metropolis Project’s annual conference in 2014; and Lori Beaman and Christine Cusack’s participation in 2016.
Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles (MICC)
The Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles (MICC) of Québec aims to promote immigration; select immigrants; support the participation of individuals who immigrated to the development of Québec. Their vision: A competent ministry, committed to make immigration a recognised contribution to the Province of Québec's vitality and prosperity.
Ministère de l’éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS)
The Ministère de l’éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS) is a branch of the Québec provincial government responsible for initiating and monitoring changes to education practices and policy in Québec, based on modifications to the Education Act.
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