October 2010, Issue 6

Dear Friend,

I hope you had a pleasant summer. While the office was closed for a time in August, the preceding months were eventful. It is my pleasure to update you on the activities of those months and to inform you of forthcoming events.

I have just returned from the Labour Party Conference, and on behalf of the Dialogue Society I would like to congratulate Ed Miliband, Labour's new leader.

Back in June, as the coalition government embarked on the challenge of implementing new policies we were privileged to welcome Peter Housden, the then Permanent Secretary for Communities and Local Government, to elucidate the Conservative idea of "The Big Society." In the summer months we were also delighted to welcome guest speakers to talk on Judaism and the Bahá'í faith, in the interests of promoting deeper understanding of diverse religious traditions. May and June at the Dialogue Society also saw constructive and animated discussion of conflict resolution and of climate change, both issues of global importance in today's world. We would like to thank all our speakers and guests once again for leading and engaging in such valuable dialogue.

In July the Dialogue Society had the honour of visiting Leeds Metropolitan University to accept an honorary doctorate on behalf of Fetullah Gülen, who was presented with the award for his contribution to education, peace-making and intercultural dialogue.

We are embarking upon an active and exciting Autumn. I write to you between visits to the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences. We are looking forward to two forthcoming roundtables with leaders of higher education institutions. In addition to rescheduling a number of events we are planning new focused seminar series. Following the success of the Dialogue School to date we also hope to see the beginning of a Media School and a Success School in the course of the next academic year. These schools are intended to empower young people and those working in small community organisations to engage in worthwhile projects with greater confidence and effectiveness. We have high hopes for the initiatives and will keep you informed of their progress.

Our thoughts continue to be with our valued advisor and friend Professor Paul Weller who lost his dear companion and wife, Greta Preisler-Weller, this summer. We feel privileged to have known her and wish Paul and his family every strength and comfort.

Further from home, all those struggling to deal with the effects of the floods in Pakistan and India continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

I look forward to reporting on Dialogue Society activities again in a month's time.

Warmest Regards
Ozcan Keles
Executive Director

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Fethullah Gülen awarded Honorary Doctorate by Leeds Metropolitan University

Fethullah Gülen awarded Honorary Doctorate by Leeds Metropolitan University, 15/07/2010

15/07/2010 - Turkish Muslim scholar, opinion leader and peace activist, Fethullah Gülen, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Leeds Metropolitan University for his contribution to education, peacemaking and intercultural dialogue on 15th July 2010 at the University's Summer Graduation celebrations. Fethullah Gülen, who topped the July 2008 Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines' poll of 100 hundred most influential public intellectuals, has initiated and inspired a worldwide civil society movement to invest in nondenominational education and intercultural dialogue which aims to contribute towards durable peace and greater understanding.

Ozcan Keles, Executive Director of the Dialogue Society charity, accepted the honorary doctorate on behalf of Fethullah Gülen. He said: "The British government is now promoting the idea of 'Big Society' and social responsibility. Fethullah Gülen has been putting this into practice for over forty years and at a transnational level. If we are serious about encouraging individuals and communities to work together then there is something for all of us to learn from Fethullah Gülen's discourse and example."

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"Understanding the Bahá'í Faith" with Sarah Perceval

'Understanding the Bahá'í Faith' with Sarah Perceval, 23/06/201023/06/2010 - A week after Judith Fox's introduction to Judaism guests of the Dialogue Society again had the opportunity to increase their understanding of a religious tradition. This time we were privileged to host Sarah Perceval, a spellbinding storyteller specialising in sacred stories, who on this occasion turned her hand to the explanation of the Bahá'í faith. Her presentation looked at the history of the faith and explained the story of Baha'u'lláh and of other key figures. She went on to examine essential Bahá'í principals, laws and teachings, the relationship of the faith to other religions and its administrative structure. She also explained Bahá'í prayer and spiritual practice and the work of a Bahá'í. Guests asked a range of interesting questions and left "understanding the Bahá'í faith" in considerably more depth.

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"Understanding Judaism" with Judith Fox

'Understanding Judaism' with Judith Fox, 16/06/2010

16/06/2010 - The Dialogue Society was delighted to welcome Judith Fox to give a fascinating introduction to Judaism. Ms Fox chairs Islington's standing Advisory Council for Religious Education, which advises the local authority on RE, and is an active member of Islington Faiths Forum. Her presentation briefly outlined the history of Judaism from its origins to the present day and explained Judaism's key religious sources and its principal tenets. Ms Fox also explored Jewish reactions to the Enlightenment in Europe, the immigrant experience and dilemmas of Jewish life in the UK today. She was able to provide insight into Jewish family and communal life. Her wide-ranging and engaging presentation provoked a range of questions and lively discussion.

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Roundtable with Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary for Communities and Local Government: "The Big Society"

Roundtable with Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary for Communities and Local Government: 'The Big Society', 10/06/2010

10/06/2010 - The Dialogue Society was proud to host Peter Housden for a roundtable discussion on "The Big Society" shortly before the end of his time as Permanent Secretary for Communities and Local Government. He explored the meaning of the idea, its background in political ideology and the ways in which it may be implemented. A very distinguished group of guests engaged in government, the civil service and civil society took up the discussion of this intriguing policy idea. They explored challenges that may arise in expecting more from British civil society and volunteers and ways in which their contributions may be supported.

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"The Challenges of Climate Change": seminar with Dr Simon Buckle

'The Challenges of Climate Change': seminar with Dr Simon Buckle, 08/06/2010

08/06/2010 - The Dialogue Society was delighted to host Dr Simon Buckle for an eye-opening seminar on this issue of crucial global importance. Dr Buckle is Director of Climate Policy at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London. He introduced those present to the science of climate change, showing the very real possibility of man-made global warming leading to disastrous consequences across the world. He stressed the need for transparency and clarity among the scientific community as they share their findings with the public, noting the damage done to public confidence in climate scientists by the mistakes made at the University of East Anglia. He also suggested that those seeking to influence policy and public opinion on climate change through various campaigns need to develop an understanding of the scientific basis for their concerns. Animated discussion followed Dr Buckle's presentation, with questions addressing the scientific grounds for claims made by climate scientists along with strategies for responding to the threat of climate change. Clearly argued attempts to influence national policy are, Dr Buckle considered, the most promising course of action for concerned individuals to pursue.

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Roundtable with HE Mr Andy Sparkes for a discussion of "The Role of the International Community in Post-conflict Environments"

Roundtable with HE Mr Andy Sparkes for a discussion of 'The Role of the International Community in Post-conflict Environments', 11/05/1011/05/10 - The Dialogue Society was proud to host HE Mr Andy Sparkes, the British Ambassador to Kosovo, as its guest of honour at a roundtable discussion considering "The Role of the International Community in Post-Conflict Environments, with Particular Reference to Kosovo." Drawing on his extensive experience in the field, the Ambassador discussed the respective strengths and limitations of different agents within the international community and the key challenges faced by all those seeking to maintain and build upon a stable situation in the aftermath of conflict. While recognising that there was still a long way to go before such a situation could be achieved, he looked forward to an era when people throughout Kosovo would define those living around them not as members of a particular group associated with particular grievances and tragedies but as "my neighbour", "my business partner." The issues covered by the Ambassador were taken up for discussion by a distinguished and varied group, including Ambassadors to the UK, representatives of the FCO and academics.

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London Retreat organised for regional dialogue organisations

London Retreat organised for regional dialogue organisations, 14 -15/05/10

14 -15/05/10 - The Dialogue Society organised a two-day retreat programme to regional dialogue organisations based across the UK in mid May. The Dialogue Society, which offers consultancy and training in a number of areas, was host to twenty representatives from several charities. The programme where best practice was shared, also provided training in a number of key areas vital for small-medium sized charities via a number of workshops. These workshops included organising successful community events, effective networking, planning, public speaking, effective communication and managing volunteers. The retreat programme was hailed by participants as highly informative and essential for new organisations. The Dialogue Society hopes to be running several more workshops focusing on a diverse range of issues, in the forthcoming months.

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In this issue


Fethullah Gülen Awarded Honorary Doctorate by Leeds Metropolitan University

Fethullah Gülen awarded Honorary Doctorate by Leeds Metropolitan University


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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The Dialogue Society would appreciate any feedback or ideas you can provide on its work. Please visit the website to send us any comments you would like to make.

Contact Us

Dialogue Society
402 Holloway Road,
London, N7 6PZ

T   + 44 (0) 20 7619 0361
E   info@dialoguesociety.org
W  www.dialoguesociety.org

Dialogue Society - 402 Holloway Road, London, N7 6PZ. Ph: +(44) 20 7619 0361