Archbishop Welby highlights University's work in Lords debate
Thursday 11 December 2014
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has used a House of Lords debate to highlight Coventry University's research into the role played by religious groups in preventing violent conflict.
Opening the debate about the use of 'soft' power and non-military options in conflict prevention, Archbishop Welby cited the University's Faith-based conflict prevention project as an effective way to tackle the issue and promote peace.
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project – which is led by the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations' Professor Alpaslan Özerdem in collaboration with the Anglican Alliance and the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace – is exploring how churches and faith groups can help spot early signs of violence and stop it from happening.
Archbishop Welby said during his speech that the Coventry-led research reflects "the reality that the church, the Anglican Communion globally, is consistently at the forefront of conflict prevention, above all currently in the Great Lakes of Africa, in the South Sudan and in the Central African Republic."
Part of the debate focused on a parliamentary report – to which Coventry academics gave evidence – examining the UK's 'soft' power or its ability to generate influence through positive social, economic and political forces (as distinct from the use of force and coercion by a nation to assert itself).
Speaking to the Lords about of the benefits of soft power in exerting a benevolent influence around the world, Archbishop Welby explained how the study opportunities provided to international students at Coventry University help advance the UK's interests.
Archbishop Welby said:
I saw an example of that two or three weeks ago when, at the degree awards ceremony at Coventry University – one of the best of our modern universities – 60% of the students were from overseas. They are a powerful source of earnings and will return home with a brilliant education and an exceptional experience of the UK. In most cases, they will be our friends for life.
Commenting on the ESRC project, Professor Mike Hardy, director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, said:
Our research collaboration with the Anglican Alliance and the Archbishop's Reconciliation Ministry is helping to highlight the real contribution that investing in long-term relationships can have for both building and sustaining peace.
In the project, the teams have seen that communities working with their faith groups and other civil society partners can do more than just repair damaged relations. In the longer term, evidence shows that contact which leads to 'attraction and influence' between people can transform communities and help make them more resilient.
Last month the Archbishop was awarded an honorary doctorate by Coventry University in recognition of his longstanding commitment to peace and reconciliation – particularly the strong collaborations developed with African churches to support them in dealing with inter-ethnic violence.
For further information, please contact Alex Roache, external press and media relations officer, Coventry University, on 024 7765 5050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.