Augustinian Centre for Religion and the Public Square

Under Construction

About

The core mission of the Augustinian Centre for Religion and the Public Square (ACRPS) to help shape and nurture a new attitude towards the place of faith and belief in policy and political discourse through the academy and into the wider public sphere. It will do so through a range of activities ranging from traditional publications such as articles and blogs through to personal engagements such as interviews with policymakers and discussion forums. It is deliberately non-partisan and seeks primarily, as Augustine argued for in The Two Cities, the peace of all through the work of the state and of its people.

The ACRPS will be both a physical and virtual centre housed within the offices of the GTF. It is intended that its activities should have value in their own right, but also encourage people into engaging with the GTF’s educational courses.

The knowledge and understanding of religion in policymaking circles has continued to decline as the religious literacy of the populations of the West has declined generally. In addition, there has been a suspicion of the influence of religion in the public square and government that have been born out of historical European church-state struggles. 

These historical and cultural circumstances make the lack of knowledge about religion and suspicion of it from policymakers understandable, but it comes at a time at which religious beliefs are increasing globally and the impact of religious beliefs and networks have rarely been more visible. It is these circumstances the ACRPS will seek to challenge through its activities for the simple reason that, in a world which is becoming increasingly religious, suspicion and incomprehension of the implications of religious worldviews, along with their impacts, will lead to dangerous and miss-leading policymaking at both domestic and international policymaking levels. So, by gathering information through research, disseminating it through classes and publications and stimulating public and policy debate, the ACRPS will seek to impact a policy culture which is in deep need of changed – thinking.

The ACRPS will be primary located within the offices of the GTF, both physically and in its online presence.

This will enable the ACRPS to carry out both in-person and virtual outputs, thereby increasing the range of people who can be engaged by its activities.

  1. Research

All the outputs of the ACRPS will be driven by, and based upon, rigorous academic research.

  • Research will employ relevant and appropriate methodologies for the fields in which they are deployed.
  • Research projects will all include proposals that describe (and justify) the academic methodological framework within which the project will take place.
  1. Courses
  • The public policy field offers a vast array of potential arenas to be engaged with, even within the constraints of the policy areas outlined in the ‘Scope’ section.
  • Courses will be orientated towards two facets of policymaking:
    • Philosophical – unpacking and analysing the philosophical underpinnings upon which US (and Western) systems of government have been made along with the philosophies that underpin other systems: this would include engagement with key figures; for example John Locke, Reinhold Niebuhr and John Rawls as well as conceptions of terms such as ‘Democracy’ and ‘Federalism’.
    • Policy-Specific – engaging with specific issues such as religious violence, secularisation, ethical foreign policy in geographical regions.
  1. Dissemination and Facilitation
  • There will be a suite of publications on a regular basis including blog articles (within the online space for the ACRPS on the GTF website) journal articles and media articles.
  • Monographs from the director and centre fellows should also begin to appear within two to three years of the centre’s inauguration.
  • Public events which should include (but not be limited to), public lectures, seminars with other academics and policymakers, interviews with high-profile people in particular fields. This might include authors and politicians.
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