Social Cohesion in Oxford
Oxford has a long legacy of a city at the forefront of multicultural initiatives. Dating from its inception, it has been a centre of cultural preservation with such institutions as the Ashmolean Museum, the Bodleian Library and the numerous colleges that constitute the University of Oxford. The University itself brings together students and scholars from across the globe. As a city with such a legacy, people around the world come here each year to work, live, study and visit.
In a country increasingly fearful of dangerous extremist beliefs, Oxford stands out as a place where people of many backgrounds come together in relative peace and open dialogue. In order to promote this idea, explore ways to improve and expand further initiatives, and develop Oxford as a model for social cohesion, the Oxford Asian Cultural Association, with support from the Department of Communities and Local Government, the New Dawn Enterprises, the Europaeum, and the European Studies Centre, St Antony's College, Oxford, is organising a one-day conference on 7th July, 2007, bringing together academics, policy-makers, community, religious, and cultural leaders, students, and young people in open dialogue.
The Conference will consist of four panels: Tackling Extremism in a Globalised Society; The Role of Faith in Contemporary Britain; Arts as a Vehicle for Cultural Exchange; and, Engaging the Youth: Education and Community Programmes. Speakers include Imam Monawar Hussain (Muslim Tutor, Eton College), Professor Iftikhar H. Malik (Bath Spa University and Oxford), Dr Paul Flather (Secretary-General, The Europaeum), Supt Jim Trotman (Oxford LPA Commander TVP), Imam Irfan Chisti (Director Citizenship, Sufi Muslim Council), Sheikh Mohammad Shahid Raza (Director, Imams and Mosques Council UK), Rev. Dr Marcus Braybrook (President, World Congress of Religions), Judith Kramer (Act for Change), Dr Christopher Brown (Director, Ashmolean Museum), Malcolm Atkins (Lecturer in Music, Open University), Saddique Abbasi (Muslim Youth Worker), Nisha Prakash (Community Cohesion Officer, Oxford City Council), and Professor Peggy Morgan (Honorary President, British Association for the Study of Religions).
The goals of this project are to cultivate an appreciation of the richness of cultural expression in Oxford; develop a shared sense of community; encourage further collaboration through the arts between Oxford's Communities; and, perhaps most importantly, to challenge the forces of extremism by promoting cultural understanding and connectedness as a force for lasting social cohesion.