Birmingham Conversations

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The Birmingham Conversations was set up in 2014 with the aim of bringing together select groups of people of all faiths an none to discuss issues of faith and public life. It was felt that some of the more contentious issues of how faith is lived out rarely get discussed at other interfaith events and the desire was to create a space and methodology that would allow these to be discussed constructively.

The aims of the Birmingham Conversations are:

To create a safe space for honest conversations

To include practitioners and thinkers who would bring local knowledge and broader insights into the topics being discussed

To include participants who could make a useful contribution but who might be excluded from other events due to age, gender or other factors

To move away from the need for consensus but rather to find ways to discuss matters well even when we disagree

To build new friendships between people from different communities

To disseminate the findings in a variety of ways that are useful for leaders, policy makers and members of the public

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The basic methodology is to invite participants who represent different faiths and interest groups, up to a maximum of 30 people. They are asked to commit to the whole process, usually meeting once a month for six months with each meeting lasting three hours. The agenda is left deliberately flexible with a broad starting question that is then unpacked and explored by the group over the period of the conversation. A planning group made up of people from different faiths is set up who plan future sessions based on what has gone before. At the end of the process the findings are made available in a variety of ways and disseminated, usually through an initial public symposium and then shared on-line. A detailed paper outlining the methodology can be downloaded here Designing for Discussion

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To date there have been three Birmingham Conversations:

‘What does Lived Faith look like in a 21st Century City?’

‘How artists and people of different faiths can work together to create the conditions for communities to come together in new ways and share conversations that could not otherwise take place.’

‘Faith in the Public Sphere’ 

From each of these conversations there have been reports published to share our findings with members of the public, academics and policy makers and to encourage others to join in the conversations.

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