Dr Jonathan D Smith
I work and conduct research at the intersection of religious diversity and social movements in multicultural societies. I am a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Religion in Public Life where I am working on a research project on how intermediaries influence the localisation of humanitarian aid.
I completed my PhD in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds in 2019. My thesis explored the theme of proselytisation in the contemporary practices of international development and Christian mission in the Middle East.
In addition to academic research, I have worked in the UK charitable sector for nine years on grassroots interfaith and social action projects with the Lokahi Foundation and the Faith & Belief Forum. Before moving to the UK, I taught academic English for four years at universities in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories, where I supported student groups engaged in interfaith dialogue and non-violent action for peace and justice.
My research focuses on how religious groups participate in social movements and respond to shared social challenges in complex and surprising ways. By studying the surprising ways that groups which are very different find common causes and goals, and the many ways that these groups adapt their beliefs and practices through dialogue and social action, we can gain a better understanding of religion’s role in public life.
Some examples of my research include:
- religious environmental social movements in Indonesia
- intermediaries supporting local faith communities in Jordan to provide humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees
- faith communities in London addressing barriers to social exclusion and fostering a sense of belonging
- management of multi-faith spaces at UK universities
- religious literacy and community relations
- proselytisation as a shared challenge for missionaries and development workers
- inter-religious solidarity movements in South Africa
Journal Articles / Book Chapters
- Kraft, K., & Smith, J. D. (2019). Between international donors and local faith communities: Intermediaries in humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, Disasters, 43(1), 24-45.
- Smith, J. D. (2017). Connecting global and local Indonesian religious environmental movements. Jurnal Kawistara, 7(3), 207–225.
- Smith, J. D. (2017). Positioning missionaries in development studies, policy and practice. World Development, 90, 63–76.
- Barnes, M., & Smith, J. D. (2015). Religious literacy as lokahi: Social harmony through diversity. In A. Dinham & M. Francis (Eds.), Religious Literacy in Policy and Practice (p. 256). Bristol: Policy Press.
- Chenoweth, J., Wehrmeyer, W., Lipchin, C., Smith, J. D., & Gazit, T. (2007). A comparison of environmental visions of university students in Israel and Palestine. Futures, 39(6), 685–703.
Reports and Policy Papers
- Smith, J. D. (2017). Faith, belief and belonging in London (London: The Faith & Belief Forum; Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London).
- Smith, J. D. (2016). Multi-faith muddle: trends in managing prayer spaces at UK universities.
- Smith, J. D. (2014). Welcome to Wapping: the value of community in a Tower Hamlets village. (London: Hurtado Jesuit Centre).
- Smith, J. D. (2012). Good campus relations: Briefing paper on Lokahi university research. (London: The Lokahi Foundation)
- Smith, J. D. (2006). Religious groups and the State: Partners for social transformation? Briefing Paper 155 (Cape Town: Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference Parliamentary Liaison Office).
- Smith, J. D. (2005). South Africa’s developing model of Religion-State relations, Occasional Paper 18 (Cape Town: Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference Parliamentary Liaison Office).
- PhD Theology and Religious Studies, University of Leeds
- MA International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, USA
- MA Applied Linguistics, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA
- BA Biblical Studies, Beulah Heights University, Atlanta, GA, USA
Research groups and institutes
- Centre for Religion and Public Life