Impact activity is central to the work of the Centre. Our research strengths in the study of contemporary religion in local and global contexts require us to understand impact and public engagement in various forms as an integral part of our research – for example, in our work with local religious communities within the Community Religions Project, now spanning more than 40 years. This is the case for research in theology and biblical studies as well as religious studies.

The main non-academic beneficiaries and audiences for our research are:

  • faith communities (locally and globally - for example, work within the Anglican Communion) and their members, as they seek to understand, reflect critically on and shape their place in the contemporary public sphere;
  • public and third-sector organisations (local, national and international - for example our work on religion and development) for whom understanding contemporary religion is of increasing importance; and, thirdly, the media, educators, and others who help to form the public understanding of religion in the contemporary world and for the future. Almost all our core research activity has led directly or indirectly to impact in one of these areas.

Examples include:

Displaying Religions in Diaspora: Shaping Public Understanding of a Multi-Faith Society Since with the launch of the Community Religions Project in 1976, and today continuing through the work of the Centre for Religion and Public Life, Leeds TRS has undertaken research that has affected improvements in the representation and public understanding of religion in Britain.

Advancing Global Church Conversations on Sexuality: Intercultural Understanding and New Methods for Dialogue. This research on Christianity and sexuality has changed both form and content of church discussions of sexuality, mainly but not only within the global Anglican Communion.

Religion, Culture and On-street grooming: There have recently been a number of high profile prosecutions of the perpetrators of ‘on street grooming’, a form of child sexual exploitation.  This project aims to interrogate assumptions about the links between ‘on-street grooming’ and the cultural background of perpetrators which have received significant attention in the media, yet have not been adequately evidenced.

Religion and The Big Society: What are the expectations for religious organisations? This small project explored the roles that religious organisations are expected to play in the ‘Big Society’. The project focused on the Leeds metropolitan area and explored the key themes of the ‘Big Society’ agenda, including localism, voluntary work and community empowerment through a series of interviews with religious.

Building Buddhism in England: Emma Tomalin and Caroline Starkey are currently carrying out research for English Heritage on a project about Buddhist Buildings.