Re/presenting Islam on campus: gender, radicalisation and interreligious understanding in British higher education

Lead Research Organisation: School of Oriental & African Studies
Department Name: Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics

Abstract

Over the last decade the UK university campus has become mired in debates about Islam. Certain crises arouse outrage: the 'underpants' bomber, gender segregation and radicalising speakers. Such episodes are classified as matters for the police and university management. The university sector has not taken a public position about Islam and radicalisation, yet we believe that many staff and students will welcome a better understanding of the situation. Our aims in this research are to analyse Islam on campus and to facilitate open, informed discussion about Islam as an integral aspect of British life and campus life. In the current climate, higher education seems torn between being a provider of world class research (Collini), an accreditor of improved functional workforce capacity (Browne Report) and a dangerous place that requires policing (Quilliam). Each approach can become a stereotype that needs to be challenged. We believe that such confusion must be discussed openly if the university sector is to be fit for purpose: fully ready for an increasing variety of home and international students and an increasingly complex world that incorporates the renaissance in world religions.

This ground-breaking research will initially give equal weight to a range of different narratives e.g. from media, academics, Muslim communities, student managers, government and radicalisation experts, in order to gauge their respective credibility and contradictions. Working with 4 universities and one Muslim college affiliated to a university, we will trace and analyse the sources of these different perspectives in dialogue with students, staff and other stakeholders across the HE sector.

We will work closely with stakeholders including AMOSSHE (Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education), NUS and Islamic societies and Muslim youth organisations, both Sunni and Shi'i. Examining personal views among staff and students alongside 'official' discourses will provide a critical account of how perceptions of Islam play out within university contexts. These views will be collected and analysed using a variety of methods, including an online questionnaire survey to collect statistical data, interviews, focus groups and data visualisation techniques.

For university-based impact we will be catalysts for mixed stakeholder groups: students, staff, professional bodies, policy makers and third sector. We will involve them in collecting and disseminating models of good practice, and in the co-production of new solutions.
They will interpret data analysis of findings, including using data visualisation, to challenge stereotypes and think afresh in workshops, co-producing recommendations for developing clarity about Islam on campus and about Islamic Studies as a subject.

Further impact beyond the university will be achieved by fostering debate and reflection about Islam on campus among local communities and Muslim organisations, seeking open discussion and understanding. Creative interpretation of our findings about perceptions of Muslims will be facilitated in a data visualisation project at the New Arts Exchange (NAE) in Nottingham (www.nae.org.uk), drawing young people into a process of rethinking and reimagining the place of religion within British public life. We will also work with Gladstone's Library http://www.gladstoneslibrary.org/. Like NAE, Gladstone's Library reaches out to minority communities. Each will provide an exemplary case study of organisational interreligious engagement.

We will bring together people who never usually meet: academics and stakeholders from universities, community groups from beyond the university, policy makers, devout Muslims and secularists. Well planned involvement and effective knowledge exchange events will help them to develop and then share their practical answers to the challenges facing higher education of radicalisation, gender and interfaith

Planned Impact

The university sector is under various pressures, of which the securitisation agenda is a particularly disturbing one: universities are accused of allowing 'radicalisation' to violent Islamic causes to occur on campus unchecked. This research project will benefit research users both on and off campus by collecting, analysing and disseminating both existing and new knowledge, and facilitating knowledge exchange between and among stakeholder groups. Good management and infrastructural support will facilitate establishing relationships and networks with stakeholders. These will be enhanced by 'co-production' i.e. research methods that involve stakeholders in the research.
Well planned user engagement and knowledge exchange strategies will include workshops and a national conference to bring users/stakeholders together to share our findings about views on Islam on campus. We have identified five key stakeholder groups; our intention is to bring them together to define the major issues, to share their perspectives (as groups and as individuals) on our findings and to consider productive ways forward that benefit all:
1.UK universities and Muslim HE institutions: These are often perceived as being at opposite ends of a spectrum between fundamentalism and secularism. We will bring together scholars from both sides of this perceived dichotomy to discuss, suggest and validate strategies for increasing collaboration and understanding. There will be economic benefits to the academic sector, because the research findings will focus without prejudice upon a new client base: the Muslim population of Britain is growing fast, with over a quarter being of school and university age.

2. Academics and Scholars involved in Islamic Studies: They are responsible for course content and direct contact with students and will benefit from new clarity about Islamic Studies, its perspectives and methods across the HE sector, and its role in shaping discourses on Islam. The cross-university discussion generated by project seminars will also foster a greater awareness within the discipline of its changing context and the ways in which the impact of Islamic Studies could be enhanced, thereby hopefully fostering its sense of unity, internal coherence and academic standing. The team has a portfolio of research that will build its reputation with academics.

3. Policy makers: The increasing visibility of diverse populations in British universities reflects patterns in the UK generally, and legislation around equality obliges university policy makers and local and national governments to have frameworks for community cohesion. This research will provide critical commentary on government agendas around equalities (particularly of religion or belief), community cohesion and radicalisation by exploring their impact at universities and nationally through, for example, NUS, BIS and PREVENT.
4. British Muslim communities: They comprise the largest religious minority in Britain and this research will specifically seek to consult and collaborate with them. Meaningful engagement with Muslim student groups and the broader Muslim communities to which they belong is essential if research and public policy is to reflect accurately the complexities of British society. Moreover Muslim student groups and youth organisations actively engage in debates on the role and place of Islam in Britain. A better understanding of how perceptions of Islam are shaped will reinforce their confidence and ability to lead constructive dialogue about Islam and Muslims on campus and beyond.
5. Third Sector: These are voluntary, community and charity organisations who are working towards interreligious and inter-community dialogue and societal cohesion in Britain. The findings of the research will inform their work particularly in the contexts of pluralism and synergies between Islam and the West. They will act as intermediaries and knowledge brokers.
 
Description Both the Prevent Duty Guidance and the Charity Commission's management of student unions are perceived by over half our respondents (university staff and students) to be having a chilling effect on free speech, and they gave specific examples. This was not restricted to Muslim respondents.
Students who take a short course to study Islamic Studies appear to be more prejudiced against Islam and Muslims than those who do not: this may be related to the topics available i.e. terrorism and the purported incompatibility of Islam and democracy
Campus discussions often gravitate towards talking about the hijab and other markers of Muslims : this surprised the research team and it suggested that there are not enough opportunities to talk about Islam on campus and resolve misunderstandings
Students report that they rely more on digital media information to find out about Islam and Muslims than they do regarding other faiths, and some admitted to encountering bias online
Research evidence also demonstrates how valuable social contact and campus friendships are for resolving suspicion of confessional practices
Respondents reported general restriction of topics both related and unrelated to Islam, which is antithetical to the purposes of the modern university
The free speech debates in the public sphere are impeding staff and students in having discussions about how to conduct difficult conversations
Exploitation Route Draft proposals;

Social contact and campus friendships are valuable for resolving suspicion of confessional practices and such opportunities can and should be increased and enhanced
Religious literacy must be developed: Islamic Studies as a discipline can be better used to clarify faith approaches and to maximise the skill sets of academics already working on campuses
Political literacy must be developed: Prevent Duty Guidance requires dismantling and replaced with more robust curricula that address the nature of radicalisation and the ideological approaches used by both Daesh and Western governments.
Digital literacy and ethical behaviour online are clearly urgent issues and universities should be aware of the need to take positive action to provide training for staff and students
Free speech restrictions need to be debated and resolved: they constrain Muslims and many others at present . This can usefully take the form of supporting student unions, student societies and academic and non academic staff in developing a range of different approaches to freedoms of expression, depending on the topic, the audience and the context
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

 
Description Alison Scott-Baumann was invited to give evidence to the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights for their investigation into free speech on campus. On January 17 2018 she gave evidence and was asked to submit written material , which appears as SCOTT-BAUMANN AND GUEST under 'engagement' and formal working group/ expert panel. This informed their summary report, which demonstrates the chilling effect on free expression of the Prevent Duty. In the Joint Committee on Human Rights final report Alison Scott-Baumann was invited by Paul Bowen QC to submit evidence in the Butt vs Secretary of State case . This failed but went to appeal and on appeal Alison again gave evidence, with her team and the appeal was successful: this time (8 March 2019) the judges found that Paragraph 11 of the Prevent Duty Guidance is illegal and requires rewording. 7 March 2019 Alison Scott-Baumann discussed the research findings at Church House with Eve Poole, Lay Commissioner to the Church of England Draft findings are arousing interest and Alison was invited to No !0 Downing Street May 2 2019 to discuss her AHRC findings with faith advisers and counter terrorism civil servants , Dr Aisha Phoenix and Dr Shuruq Naguib accompanied her
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Citation in Joint Committee on Human Rights 2018 report on Freedom of expression on campus
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact Alison Scott-Baumann and Simon Perfect submitted evidence to Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), in their investigation of free speech on campus: JCHR called Charity Commission to give evidence: this was as a result of our empirical research, which provided evidence about Charity Commission management of student union charities and showed that the Charity Commission is impeding free speech on campus (which is protected in law by the 1980 (2) Education Act. After taking evidence from the Charity Commission, JCHR concluded that their approach is too intrusive and CC promised to be less intrusive. This results directly from the AHRC project because of evidence unearthed during early evidence gathering
URL https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201719/jtselect/jtrights/1279/1279.pdf
 
Description Consultation at Number 10 Downing Street, Thursday 2 April 2019 with Theresa May's Faith Advisor and Prevent Leads
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Human Rights Committee - Freedom of Speech in Universities
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact Alison
URL http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c532a407-6675-4fcc-9300-c96842948504
 
Description Islam on campus, the Charity Commission and free speech on campus
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact As part of the Islam on campus research I came to understand that the Charity Commission was intervening in matters relating to Muslim student groups on campus. Research funded by SOAS to support this (PERFECT AND SCOTT-BAUMANN CHARITY COMMISSION) was presented to the Joint Committee for Human Rights (JCHR) in their investigation of free speech on campus, and as a direct result of our research the JCHR called the Charity Commission (CC) to give evidence, which they had not planned to do. At the hearing the JCHR members were robust in their open criticisms of the CC for restricting discussion of controversial and difficult topics across the board, not specifically with regard to Muslims. Subsequently the new Minister for HE Sam Gyemah , and Jacob Rees -Mogg, currently a favoured voice in the media, both asserted, apparently out of the blue, that the Charity Commission is restricting free speech on campus. This can only have come from the JCHR, which in turn was responding to our unique research. Subsequently also the Equalities and Human Rights Commission initiated its own review into the role of the new Office for Students with specific interest also in the role of the Charity Commission. The JCHR report is still being written.
URL https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/human-rights-committee/inq...
 
Description Islam on campus, the Prevent Duty Guidance and free speech on campus
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact As part of the Islam on campus research I came to understand that the Prevent Duty Guidance is affecting matters relating to Muslim student groups on campus. Research funded by SOAS to support this ( SCOTT-BAUMANN AND Perfect - PREVENT) was presented to the Joint Committee for Human Rights (JCHR) in their investigation of free speech on campus, and as a direct result of our research the JCHR asked me for more evidence, which they had not planned to do.
URL https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/human-rights-committee/inq...
 
Description Scott-Baumann was consulted for this: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/freedom-expression-guide-higher-education-providers-and-students-unions-england
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact Scott-Baumann (and Perfect's) recommendations influenced the EHCR approach to the Charity Commission and to the Prevent Guidance Duty RE: EHRC Freedom of speech in universities guidelines Inbox x Rebecca Thomas Thu, 6 Sep 2018, 09:09 to Simon, me, David Dear Simon and Alison Thank you so much for reviewing the draft guidance. Apologies not to reply sooner - it's been a manic week and I've only just been able to open your email. I'll review now, and pick up some of the comments on the legal framework section with our lawyer. At first glance it looks as though you've picked up some of the same issues that sector stakeholders have flagged. It's interesting too that you provide particularly detailed feedback on the charity law and prevent sections, both of which were drafted by stakeholders and integrated into the document! A juggling act for the Commission here If there is anything within your feedback that I'm not clear on, are you happy for me to come back to you on it? Best wishes and many thanks once again Rebecca
URL https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/freedom-expression-guide-higher-educatio...
 
Description Today programme Radio 4, 4 Nov 2017
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact This radio interview raised issues about safe spaces that people are still talking about: why the sense of moral panic rose with little justification. The radio event led to me being invited to write for Guardian and for Wonkhe so it functioned as a pathway to impact, allowing me to influence public debate
URL http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/24837/
 
Description Video of giving evidence to JCHR about free speech on campus enquiry
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact This video demonstrates, as do the documents I submitted to JCHR, that my research has a significant impact upon the approach of the Joint committee for Human Rights: after the meeting they asked me for more information on the research about Islam on campus and about the Charity Commission. They only called Charity Commission to give evidence as a result of my research with S Perfect, so I'e contributed to an improved regulatory environment. Final report was published in 2018 and my research was referenced five times: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201719/jtselect/jtrights/589/589.pdf
URL http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c532a407-6675-4fcc-9300-c96842948504
 
Description Central Impact Fund
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description Impact Acceleration Fund
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Organisation School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2016 
End 07/2017
 
Description Strategic Impact Fund
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description Strategic Impact Fund
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2017 
End 12/2018
 
Description Researcher In Residence 
Organisation Free University of Amsterdam
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I was able to work on academic drafts related to the AHRC project while also lecturing on the project
Collaborator Contribution travel, accommodation and expenses paid
Impact In preparation
Start Year 2018
 
Description Blog entry: Cultural cold wars 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Designed to initiate discussion in HE sector around the legal position regarding the Prevent Duty Guidance: this was achieved by writing this blog entry at the invitation of Research Professional, with a famous QC (Hugh Tomlinson of Hacked off ). Our main point was that Prevent is advisory, guidance only, not mandatory: what is mandatory is taking Prevent into account when deciding about duty of care on campus
This resulted in my being invited to speak on BBC Radio 4 several times, and contribute to Guardian HE (online) and WONKHE (online HE blog)
Tomlinson and my point is now vindicated by the 08.03.19 ruling in the Butt case, to which i gave evidence, and in which the judge ruled that paragraph 11 of the Prevent Duty Guidance is illegal because ti goes too far in seeking to curb campus free speech, protection of which is mandatory.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://blogs.soas.ac.uk/muslimwise/2016/06/15/question-time-cultural-cold-wars-the-risk-of-anti-ext...
 
Description Blog inivted by WONKHE , for higher education professionals and academics about free speech on campus 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On December 12 2017 a piece on her work with S Perfect appeared in Wonkhe:

An anatomy of judgement: how do 'snowflakes' think?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://wonkhe.com/blogs/an-anatomy-of-judgement-how-do-snowflakes-think/?utm_medium=email&utm_campai...
 
Description Free Speech on Campus: consultation at St George's Windsor Castle 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In November 2016 I organized a 24 hour consultation at St George's House, Windsor Castle, chaired by Lord Macdonald, attended by key people with a range of views (including Abu Ahmed, Home Office; Soros Foundation; Student Rights/ HJS etc:
My colleague Simon Perfect wrote up the event as a research report, now on St George's website, open to all:
https://www.stgeorgeshouse.org/wp.../Freedom-of-Speech-in-Universities-Report.pdf

In December 2018 I was invited back by St George's to review the counter terror Prevent Duty Guidance; they are using Lord MacDonald, the chairman I invited and several of the key players I invited in 2016
I have been invited to No 10 Downing Street, date to be confirmed, to discuss my research findings
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description No platform and safe spaces are not the real problem with freedom of speech 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact On October 25 2017 the Guardian Higher Education invited me to respond to Jo Johnson's criticism of the university sector's record on free speech. Johnson was at the time Minister for Higher Education
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2017/oct/25/no-platform-and-safe-spaces-arent-t...
 
Description Opinion Piece for OpenDemocracy.net by Dr Mathew Guest 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Evidence of audience engagement in 'notes' section beneath article and on social media. At least one academic author engaged with piece in one of their own published essays
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/mathew-guest/can-universities-still-provide-transformat...
 
Description Presentation at Durham University Research Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Mathew Guest gave a 45 minute presentation entitled 'Religion and the Neoliberal University' at the Religion and Society Research Seminar, Durham University, 19th February, 2019. This was followed by 45 minutes of questions and discussion with an audience of postgraduate students and academics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Religion and secularism Islam on campus final conference 6-7 September 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact RELIGION AND SECULARISM ON CAMPUS:
Examining how Universities Experience and Negotiate Diverse Beliefs
6th and 7th September 2018
Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, University of London
https://www.soas.ac.uk/representingislamoncampus/conference/

#beliefoncampus

Day I : 6th September 2018

09:30 to 10:00 Arrival and Registration

10:00 to 10:20 Introduction and Structure of the Day , Professor Alison Scott-Baumann
Welcome, Professor Andrea Cornwall, Pro-Director of Research, SOAS

10:20 to 11:50 Panel 1: Compatible strands? Christianity, Islam and Secularism
Chair: Professor Mathew Guest, Durham University, UK

Negotiating the Normative-descriptive Divide in "Secular" Islamic Studies: Reflections across the North Atlantic Anglosphere
Mr Usaama Al-Azmi, Markfield Institute of Higher Education, UK

Conceptualising Higher Education: Anglican theological reflections on being a university.
Professor Stephen Heap, University of Winchester, UK

Fighting for "Justice", Engaging the Other: Shi'a Muslim Activism on Campus
Dr Emanuelle Esposti, Cambridge University, UK and Professor Alison Scott-Baumann SOAS, UK


11:50 to 12:05 Break





12:05 to 13:35 Panel 2: The Contemporary University in Historical and Institutional Perspectives Chair: Dr Kristin Aune, Coventry University, UK

Historical Dissenting Christian Academies and Contemporary Muslim Educational Institutions: Contexts, Comparisons, Resonances and Contrasts
Professor Paul Weller, Coventry University and Oxford University, UK

The dangers of secularism in secularized Higher Education: evidence and reflections from a UK context
Professor Clive Marsh, University of Leicester, UK

Authorised Narratives in the Marketised University
Professor Mathew Guest, Durham University, UK

13:35 to 14:35 Lunch

14:35 to 16:05 Panel 3: The Abrahamic Legacy on Campus
Chair: Dr Ziad Amir

Apprendre 'autre chose': observations from (Judeo-Arabic) classes at The Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO, Paris)
Dr Sami Everett, Cambridge University, UK

Sin and hope: Christian evangelical perceptions of the university
Lennin Caro, University of North Carolina, USA

Islam and Interfaith on Campus: Glimmers of solidarity in securitised and marketised contexts
Dr Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor, Coventry University, UK

16:05 to 16:25 Break

16:25 to 17:25 Panel 4: Feminism and Student Life
Chair: Dr Shuruq Naguib, University of Lancaster, UK

Inclusive Campus Environment: Perceptions of University Students on The Educational And Cultural Experiences of Muslim Covered Women
Dr Fatma Nevra Seggie, Nagehan Pakdamar-Tüzgen and Humeyra Dincer, Bogaziçi Üniversity, Turkey

Muslim women on campus: self-representation and the politics of dress
Dr Aisha Phoenix, SOAS, UK

17:25 to 17:45 Break

17:45 to 19:00 KEYNOTE, SUGHRA AHMED, ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR RELIGIOUS LIFE, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, USA
Stanford Through the Looking Glass
Chair: Mr Usaama Al-Azmi, Markfield Institute of Higher Education, UK


Day II : 7th September 2018

09:15 to 9:45 Arrival and Registration

09:45 to 10:45 Panel 5: Curriculum developments
Chair: Professor Alison Scott-Baumann, SOAS, UK

Pedagogical Reflections on the Introduction of a 'Law and Religion' Module in the Traditional Legal Curricula of Law Schools in the UK
Dr Amin Al-Astewani, Lancaster University, UK

Re/presenting Islamic Studies: Old problems and changing contexts
Dr Shuruq Naguib, University of Lancaster, UK

10:45 to 11:05 Break

11:05 to 12:35 Panel 6: Researching Student Life
Chair: Dr Aisha Phoenix, SOAS, UK

Exploring how to research religion and non-religion on campus
Sarah Lawther, Nottingham Trent University, UK

Without Forgetting the Marja?: Evolution of Shi'i Identity and Practice of Religious Authority on UK Campuses
Muhammed R. Tajri, Al-Mahdi Institute Birmingham, UK

Methodologies for researching campus life
Professor Alison Scott-Baumann, SOAS, UK


12:35 to 13:35 Lunch

13:35 to 15:05 Panel 7: Formation on Campus
Chair: Dr Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor, Coventry University, UK

Cults on Campus - Promoting Informed Decisions
Dr Suzanne Newcombe, King's College London, UK

University Chaplaincy in the UK: Christian, Multi-faith, Marginal or Central?
Dr Kristin Aune, Coventry University, UK; Dr Mathew Guest, Durham University, UK and Jeremy Law, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK

Mindfulness Meditation and the Modern University
Dr Alp Arat, Cardiff University,UK

15:05 to 15:25 Break

15:25 to 16:40 KEYNOTE, PROFESSOR SOPHIE GILLIAT-RAY, CARDFF UNIVERSITY
Confusion, Contest, and Contradiction: what does the provision for, and study of 'religion' at Cardiff University tell us about religion and secularism in the UK?"
Chair: Professor Jorgen Nielsen, University of Birmingham

16:40 to 17:00 Closing Comments


Conference Organisers
AHRC Re/presenting Islam on Campus Project Team
Professor Alison Scott-Baumann (SOAS), Professor Mathew Guest (Durham), Dr Shuruq Naguib (Lancaster), Dr Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor (Coventry), Dr Aisha Phoenix (SOAS) and Mr Kareem Darwish (SOAS)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Research Seminar at University of Cardiff 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 'Anxiety and Stigma in the Lives of Muslim Students: How the 'Radicalization' Narrative Shapes Higher Education in Britain', Seminar of the Islam-UK Centre, University of Cardiff, 4th March 2020. Presentation of research findings followed by period of questions and discussion from audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Research Seminar at University of Chester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Mathew Guest gave a presentation at the University of Chester's Theology and Religious Studies Research Seminar entitled 'Representing Islam on UK University Campuses: Negotiating Research and Identity within a Securitised Educational Environment'. This was based on findings from this research project. The presentation lasted for 45 minutes and was followed by 45 minutes of questions and discussion with the audience, which was made by up postgraduate students and locally based academics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Research Seminar at University of Leeds 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 'Anxiety and Stigma in the Lives of Muslim Students: How the 'Radicalization' Narrative Shapes Higher Education in Britain', Centre for Religion and Public Life research seminar, University of Leeds, 13th February, 2020. Presentation of research findings followed by period of questions and discussion from audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Research Seminar at University of Winchester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 'Representing Islam on UK University Campuses: negotiating research and identity within a securitised educational environment', Research Seminar of the Department of Theology, Religion and Philosophy, University of Winchester, 26th March, 2019. Presentation of research findings followed by questions and discussion from audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Safe spaces and brave spaces 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On Nov 4 2017 I was invited to discuss safe spaces and brave spaces on Radio 4 Today programme with Sarah Montague and Sir Antony Seldon;
by this point in my AHRC research, it was clear from empirical fieldwork evidence that free speech is being chilled on campus:
Muslims and others of colour are self-censoring and so it is imperative to engage in the debate conducted by government and media of 'moral crisis' about free speech on campus
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk at BSA Sociology of Religion Conference, 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact 'Representations of Islam on UK Campuses: Getting Beyond the Dominant Discourses of the Neoliberal University', BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group Annual Conference, University of Cardiff, 9th-11th July, 2019. Presentation of research findings followed by questions and discussion from audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Talk at Greenbelt Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Around 100 people attended a talk given by Mathew Guest entitled 'Faith on Campus in the 21st Century: Universities and the Future of Religion in Britain'. This took place at the Greenbelt Christian Arts festival in August 2018, in the 'Telescope' Tent. The talk lasted around 35 minutes and was followed by another 30 minutes of questions and discussion from the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.greenbelt.org.uk/artists/mathew-guest/
 
Description Talk at Human Rights NGO 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact February, 23, 2019 - "The Politics of Dress: Muslim women negotiating campus life", paper at the New Horizons in British Islam "British Islam Conference 2019" at Amnesty International UK Human Rights Action Centre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Times Higher Education Supplement article to coincide with Project final conference 6 Sept 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact TEXT of HE article

Times Higher Education - 6 September 2018

Muslim students feel 'under suspicion' on UK campuses

Major study finds that many Muslim students are self-censoring and disengaging from UK campus life

Government counterterrorism guidance and prejudice on campus have served to marginalise Muslim students and staff in British universities, according to preliminary findings from the largest study yet of Islam and UK higher education.

The research found that many Muslim students modify their behaviour as a result of the government's Prevent strategy - which is part of its counterterrorism policy - by self-censoring or disengaging from campus life and their studies for fear of being stigmatised, labelled an extremist or subjected to discrimination.

The study also claims that Prevent, which seeks to stop students being drawn into terrorism by, for example, imposing limitations on events featuring allegedly extremist speakers, had led to wariness among Muslim and non-Muslim students about participating in research about religion, freedom of speech and campus life.

Alison Scott-Baumann, the principal investigator on the three-year research project and professor of society and belief at Soas, University of London, told Times Higher Education that "ministers are accusing universities of using safe spaces and no platforming to suppress free speech", but the initial findings of this research "suggest that the chilling of free speech is coming fromgovernment initiatives".

"It is particularly regrettable when you consider that under British legislation, the right to free speech is legally protected, whereas the need to implement Prevent takes the form of guidance, not law," she added.
The research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, was based on a national survey of more than 2,000 students at UK universities. It also consisted of qualitative research at six universities, including interviews with about 300 students, academics and other staff; staff and student focus groups; and observations of classes and campus events.
Although the majority of survey respondents agreed that Muslims made a valuable contribution to British life, the study found evidence of prejudice against Muslims on some campuses, including among some university staff, as well as evidence of direct verbal and physical discrimination, intra- and interfaith tensions and racism.
Clothing and physical appearance - in particular, hijabs and beards - were discussed often by non-Muslims during interviews, and both were seen by Muslims as markers that could lead to their being viewed as suspect, according to the draft findings.

A male Bangladeshi member of staff at one university said during the study: "As a Muslim I do have that subconscious feeling that if I was to grow a beard I might be targeted."
The national survey found that in excess of two-fifths (43 per cent) of students - including more than 15 per cent of Muslim students - think that Islam is a religion that discriminates against women.
About a quarter of students (24 per cent) said that their main source of information about Islam was the media, compared with 16 per cent when asked about religion in general. This suggests that "perceptions of Islam may be especially vulnerable to being distorted by media bias and inaccurate reporting", according to the study.
Just over one in 10 students (11 per cent) said that they draw most on their university for information on Islam, either through their courses or their campus life in general.
The draft findings of the "Re/presenting Islam on Campus" study were due to be presented at the conference Religion and Secularism on Campus: Examining How Universities Experience and Negotiate Diverse Beliefs at Soas on 6 and 7 September.
Professor Scott-Baumann said that the research clearly shows that "Muslims are not feeling supported - they are feeling that they are being watched, and that they are the objects of suspicion".
"Muslims and Islam should not be seen through this lens of securitisation, but that is actually what is happening on campus - and that is damaging to university life," she added.
Professor Scott-Baumann said that this was an issue of growing importance because the proportion of Muslim students in UK universities might rise as a result of growth in the British Muslim population and of a potential increase in non-European Union students post-Brexit.
The study found that two-thirds (66 per cent) of university modules on Islam and Muslims were taught at just 20 universities. Professor Scott-Baumann said that Islamic studies could be a "force for good" and "replace prejudicial ideas about Islam", and suggested that the government could consider providing funding for more university-level courses.
Another idea is that universities, particularly those with the most diverse student cohorts, should consider providing cultural and religious awareness training for new staff and students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Too Young to Veil - BBC Radio 4 Analysis programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The sight of young girls wearing hijabs is becoming increasingly common in Britain. It is dramatically dividing opinion within Britain's diverse Muslim population and beyond. Radio 4's Analysis programme talked to campaigners, parents, educators and a young hijab wearer about their perspectives in Too Young to Veil?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1B5xgckjHBwPK5SQvHd1hZ7/too-young-to-veil