March 2013, Issue 18

Dear Friend,

I hope that 2013 has been treating you well so far. It is my pleasure to report on a busy start to the year here at the Dialogue Society.

In January we welcomed a new intern, Elisa Conti, who is with us until June, and eight Dialogue Studies MA students who completed a ten-week work placement with us at the end of March. The students have worked hard on dialogue projects with two London community centres, as well as attending weekly Dialogue School sessions and visiting diverse places of worship, other dialogue organisations and even the government Department for Communities and Local Government. January also saw the graduation ceremony of last year’s Dialogue Studies MA students. Dialogue Society staff were delighted to be there to celebrate their achievement.

If you have visited our website recently you may have noticed that we have a new publication available for free download: Making Dialogue Effective is the product of a series of discussions at the Dialogue Society on the role and value of dialogue and on how to maximise its impact. We are looking forward to the launch of our new Dialogue Theories book in April, and to the first issue of the Journal of Dialogue Studies in the summer. If you are interested in submitting a paper to the Journal, there is still time; further information is available here.

The second Dialogue Society Success School in London is drawing to a close. The programme has again been very well attended, with some fantastic speakers, including Omid Djalili and Air Marshall Sir Andrew Pulford, offering inspiration and advice to local young people. The programme has been successfully replicated in Birmingham and Southampton Branch volunteers have recently started their own Success School, hosted by Richard Taunton College.

We have been proud to co-organise three events for the Research Councils UK-funded ‘Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue Project’, a major new project looking at trust between Muslims and other communities. The project focuses on three overlapping areas of modern life: business and finance, politics and society, and culture, the arts and communities.

In February we launched a new dialogue project of our own: Connecting Communities Circles. The project aims to improve the Dialogue Society’s understanding of the different cultural communities present in London and to lay the foundations for new connections between different groups. The initial events are informal discussions with representatives of a particular community.

The project has got off to a good start and we look forward to further ‘circles’ in the coming months. We also hope to hold some more Straight Talks, dynamic interviews in which a leading expert on a particular social or political issue is quizzed by a well-informed journalist and by the audience.

In Oxford, a series of ‘Debating Multiculturalism’ panel discussions will be concluding with two discussions which promise to be fascinating. Speakers will include Prof Tariq Ramadan, Prof Ted Cantle and Prof Tariq Modood.

We hope to see you at a branch of the Dialogue Society near you sometime soon!

Warmest Regards
Ozcan Keles
Executive Director
Dialogue Society

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Announcements

Launch of New Publication: Making Dialogue Effective

20.03.2013 - As part of its ongoing efforts to explore, promote and enhance the role of dialogue in society, the Dialogue Society is pleased to announce the launch of its latest publication, Making Dialogue Effective. This booklet seeks to offer responses to some key questions about the purpose, value and impact of dialogue:

Does it really extend beyond the tea-fuelled self-congratulation of a few liberal religious believers?
Does it have any real social effects, and could any such effects be augmented?
How can it reach beyond the sympathetic to those whose attitudes and behaviour are an actual threat to peace and social cohesion?

Eighteen guest speakers, most of whom are professionally engaged with dialogue in various spheres, brought their responses to a series of panel discussions held at the Dialogue Society (Nov 2010 – Mar 2011). The booklet presents key insights from these events, along with an extensive list of concrete recommendations taken from the discussions and from Dialogue Society experience. The booklet can be downloaded free of charge from www.dialoguesociety.org/publications.html. A limited number of copies have been printed for distribution to relevant practitioners and researchers. To request a hard copy, please contact Ilknur Kahraman, ikahraman@dialoguesociety.org or telephone 020 7619 0361.

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Graduation of the First Ever Dialogue Studies MA Students

Graduation of the First Ever Dialogue Studies MA Students

28.01.2013 - Dialogue Society staff were delighted to join the first graduates of the MA in Dialogue Studies at their graduation ceremony at Keele University. The Vice Chancellor, who awarded the degrees, congratulated all graduating students on their achievements and shook hands with each in turn. Photos were taken in Keele’s lovely snow-covered grounds and students, friends and family, Keele staff and Dialogue Society representatives stayed to have lunch together. All the Dialogue Studies students had worked very hard during a full and challenging year and had made a valuable contribution to the work of the Dialogue Society in London during their 10-week placement. We congratulate them on their well-earned success.

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A New Face at the Dialogue Society: Intern Elisa Conti

07.01.2013 - In early January the Dialogue Society was delighted to welcome a new intern, Elisa Conti, who came to the organisation as a Leonardo da Vinci Programme scholarship holder. Born and raised in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, Elisa decided, after finishing high school, to move to the French and German parts to make the most of the multilingual nature of her country. She graduated with magna cum laude in 2011 at the University of Neuchâtel in Human Geography and History. Her interest in multiculturalism, intercultural dialogue and integration issues led her to apply to the Dialogue Society. Elisa is also interested in hiking and travelling and she volunteers for a Swiss organisation which helps children with disabilities and their parents.

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EVENTS - LONDON

MA Students’ Community Seminar: Fragmenting Society from a Youth Perspective

MA Students Community Seminar: Fragmenting Society from a Youth Perspective

26.03.2013 - In addition to working on a number of ongoing dialogue initiatives at community centres, students organised a topical seminar for local people at the Mevlana Rumi Mosque and Dialogue Centre in Enfield. Sociologist Dr Rupa Huq and two local police representatives started the event by offering their perspectives on the fragmentation of society, its effect on young people and their reaction to it. Dr Rupa Huq gave a sociological insight into the responses of young people to social and political developments. Guests from the local police explored the problematic combination of lack of contact between different cultural communities in the local area and the unbalanced media coverage of Muslim communities. The seminar attracted a diverse audience, including many young people attending local schools and colleges. Audience members asked questions and gave their own thoughts. Refreshments were served and guests enjoyed socialising and continuing the conversation informally. Congratulations to the MA students on organising such a successful event.

Connecting Communities Circle: the Bangladeshi Community

Connecting Communities Circle: the Bangladeshi Community

13.03.2013 - The second of the Dialogue Society’s Connecting Communities Circles focused on the London Bangladeshi community. The Mayor of Islington, Cllr Jilani Chowdhury, was among six representatives of the community, working in areas from policing to diplomacy. The discussion focused on five themes: history, divisions within the community, family, education and business. In a relaxed and highly interesting conversation contributors explained the story of Bengali/Bangladeshi immigration, from the early days of stevedores settling in the UK to the significant economic migration which began in the 1950’s and 1960’s, prior to Bangladesh’s independence. Speakers observed that while divisions in the community are not very pronounced, political divisions do exist, along with a strong awareness of class, although the UK system does allow for significant social mobility. Speakers noted that as the community matures people venture into new professions and areas of business, and parents gain a better understanding of the education system. Challenges arise in families when the disconnect between traditional Bangladeshi and prevailing UK values give rise to divergent expectations among couples.

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Roundtable on Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue: Business and Finance

Roundtable on Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue: Business and Finance

14.02.2013 - This spring the Dialogue Society has co-organised three discussion events for the Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue research project, an international project funded by the Research Councils UK. The events were part of a series of discussions looking at how existing practices in a variety of cultural areas – business and finance, politics and society, culture and the arts - engage with the vexed question of trust between Muslims and other communities. The first discussion, hosted by the Dialogue Society, focused on business and finance. Two eminent speakers from these areas, Mohammed Amin, former tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Waheed Qaiser, President and Vice Chairman of Maxim Corporate LLP, gave opening presentations. A select group of guests working in business, academia and the third sector then put their questions to the speakers and offered their own insights on the topic.

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Launch of Connecting Communities Circles: with the Somali Community

13.02.2013 - In February the Dialogue Society launched ‘Connecting Communities Circles’. This project, consisting of a series of relaxed, informal discussion events or ‘circles’, aims to build understanding of and connections between different ethnic groups in London (particularly in Islington and surrounding boroughs). Initially, each circle focuses on a different ethnic group represented locally. A panel of speakers belonging to that group is invited to talk about topics related to the community’s history, identity and particular interests and challenges.

The Dialogue Society was delighted to host members of the Somali community for a most enlightening first Connecting Communities Circle. Our speakers, Islington Councillor Rakhia Ismail, and Bashir Yusuf, Director of the Enfield Somali Community Association, offered a wealth of insights into the history of London’s Somali community, its composition, its main economic activities and the challenges it faces.

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Success School – Week 2: with Omid Djalili, Comedian and Actor

Success School – Week 2: with Omid Djalili, Comedian and Actor

12.02.2013 - The Dialogue Society was delighted to host Omid Djalili for the second session of the London Success School. In an interview with Dialogue Society Director Ozcan Keles, and in a lively Q&A session, Omid shared his experiences of a chaotic start in life, academic failure and success, the journey to a sparkling career and the balancing acts involved in a genuinely successful and fulfilling life. The London office seminar room was full to capacity, and the participants responded enthusiastically to Omid’s blend of wisdom, warmth, and humour.

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Success School – Week 1: with Deepak Verma, Actor, Writer and Producer

05.02.2013 - The second Dialogue Society Success School in London began with a highly engaging and interactive session with actor, writer and producer Deepak Verma. The session started with an interview in which Deepak shared the story of an exciting and varied career with a diverse group of young Londoners. Participants seized the opportunity to ask their own questions, and Deepak explored and sometimes challenged their attitudes towards the future and the possibilities open to them.

The Success School aims to broaden the horizons and raise the aspirations of young people (16-21). It offers seminars with inspirational ‘role-model’ speakers and practical sessions providing expert advice and help on building confidence and setting and reaching goals.

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Dialogue Studies MA Work Placement: Visits

23.01.2013 - The Dialogue Studies MA work placement again included a series of visits to diverse places of worship and relevant governmental and non-governmental organisations. Friends at the Ikeda Peace Centre (Buddhist), Wesley Chapel (Methodist Christian) and the West London Synagogue (Reform Jewish) offered students tours of their places of worship and fascinating insights into their religious life and history. Staff from St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace gave a Dialogue School training session at their Centre, a church building in central London which was restored and made into a peace centre after being damaged by an IRA bomb. The government Department for Communities and Local Government also hosted students and offered a series of informative introductions to its work in areas such as integration and faith communities engagement.

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The Dialogue School 2013

The Dialogue School 2013

22.01.2013 - During their placement at the Dialogue Society, MA students attended weekly Dialogue School sessions led by Dialogue Society staff and invited guests. Like the MA as a whole, the Dialogue School aims to build capacity for the effective, reflective practice of dialogue between people of diverse cultural, religious, social and political identities. The sessions fall into two categories. Theoretical sessions on theories and principles of dialogue explore the diverse thinkers introduced in the forthcoming Dialogue Theories book as well as looking at the approach of the Dialogue Society and thought on dialogue within particular religious traditions. Skills-based sessions provide training in public speaking, dialogue techniques, project management and networking.

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Other Events

  • 26.03.2013 | Success School – Week 6: with Air Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford
  • 21.03.2013 | Panel Discussion on Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue: Culture and Communities
  • 19.03.2013 | Success School – Week 5: with Serena Bradshaw, Performance Coach
  • 07.03.2013 | Success School – Week 4: with Ozcan Keles, Executive Director, Dialogue Society
  • 05.03.2013 | Dialogue School - Session 7: An Overview of Dialogue Theories - Part 3
  • 28.02.2013 | Roundtable on Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue: Politics and Society
  • 26.02.2013 | Success School – Week 3: with Robert Kelsey, Author of ‘What’s Stopping You?’
  • 05.02.2013 | Dialogue School - Session 3: Public Speaking with Sarah Perceval
  • Forthcoming

  • 16.04.2013 | Success School – Week 7: with Siobhan Benita, Former Civil Servant and Mayoral Candidate 2012
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    EVENTS - BIRMINGHAM

    Birmingham Success School

    Birmingham Success School

    08.03.2013 - In March the Dialogue Society Birmingham Branch ran a Success School to inspire and encourage local young people. Shabana Mahmood MP and accomplished soprano singer Abigail Kelly shared stories of their journeys to career success and the challenges they had faced along the way. Participants appreciated the engaging style and thoughtful advice of both speakers. Robert Kelsey provided a very thought-provoking practical session on how to overcome common barriers to success, particularly the fear of failure. The Birmingham Success School provided valuable encouragement and food for thought to participants and has built foundations for further projects for young people in years to come.

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    Oxford

    Debating Multiculturalism, Panel Discussion 1 - The Origins, History and Development of Multiculturalism in the UK

    13.02.2013 - This event launched a series of four discussions exploring and evaluating multiculturalism as an ideology and a political project. The first discussion placed multiculturalism in its historical context, exploring the historical factors contributing to the rise of multiculturalism, the development of the meaning of the term over time, and the current political and social factors shaping the government approach to diversity and integration. Mohammed Abdul Aziz of the Woolf Institute, Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, President of the World Congress of Faiths, and Dr Hazim Fazlic, founder of the Connect Foundation, led a fascinating discussion of this highly topical area.

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    Other Events

  • 27.02.2013 | Debating Multiculturalism, Panel Discussion 2 - The End of Multiculturalism? A Riposte
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    Forthcoming

  • 24 April 2013 | Debating Multiculturalism, Panel Discussion 3 - Multiculturalism and the Impacts on Education Policy in England
  • 15 May 2013 | Debating Multiculturalism, Panel Discussion 4 - Multiculturalism: Where Do We Go From Here?
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    EVENTS - SOUTHAMPTON

    Southampton Success School – Session 1: with John Denham MP

    13.12.2012 - The first Southampton Success School began with an inspirational session with John Denham MP. Richard Taunton College kindly hosted the event, making it highly accessible to college students within our target group. In an initial interview John Denham explained how engagement with causes he cared about led him into work for a range of nongovernmental organisations and into local and then national politics. He explored the rewards and trials of political life and noted the satisfaction involved in work in which you feel that you can contribute to something that matters. He responded to a range of searching political and personal questions from participants.

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    Noah’s Pudding Celebration in Southampton

    15.01.2013 - January saw a series of intercultural Noah’s Pudding celebrations organised by the Dialogue Society in the South of England. Local people in a number of cities and towns were invited to come together and experience the Anatolian Muslim tradition of Noah’s Pudding, a delicious dessert made around the time of the festival of Ashura. The pudding, representing the first meal of the Prophet Noah and his companions after the flood, highlights the common heritage of Muslims, Jews and Christians but also provides a pleasant pretext for bringing people together regardless of culture, religion or worldview.

    The well-attended Noah’s Pudding evening in Southampton featured a short address from Cllr Derek Burke, the Mayor of Southampton, as well as a presentation from Oxford Branch Director Mustafa Kasim Erol. Guests then had plenty of time to socialise over refreshments, including, of course, pudding.

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    Other Events

  • 17.01.2013 | Noah’s Pudding Celebration in Basingstoke
  • 16.01.2013 | Noah’s Pudding Celebration in Brighton
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    In this issue


    FORTHCOMING

    LONDON

    OXFORD

    Other news

    Past & Forthcoming Events

    Visit our Events page to see the number and range of work carried out by the Dialogue Society. Users can view the events in categorical or chronological order.

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    Internship at the Dialogue Society

    The Dialogue Society is currently offering volunteering placement opportunities for candidates from all backgrounds and interests. We provide a unique, dynamic and stimulating work experience where volunteers are encouraged to plan, build and deliver their own projects whilst contributing to other ongoing projects and tasks.

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    Support the Dialogue Society

    Regardless of your means and time, there are a number of ways you can support the Dialogue Society. Click below for some practical suggestions.

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