The Woolf Institute was founded by Dr Edward Kessler and Rev Prof Martin Forward in 1998. Their aim was to develop an independent academic centre to provide a framework in which people can tackle issues of religious difference constructively.
Beginning as the Centre for Jewish–Christian Relations, the Institute later expanded to include the Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations (CMJR) – the first and only European Centre dedicated to fostering a better understanding of relations between Muslim and Jews. In 2010, these centres were amalgamated under the designation of the Woolf Institute, in honour of Lord Harry Woolf, former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.
From 2013 onwards, the Woolf Institute, in collaboration with the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust and the Cambridge Overseas Trust, has offered the Woolf Institute Cambridge Scholarship and contributed to the MPhil in Middle East Studies at the University of Cambridge. The Woolf Institute presently addresses the relationship between religion and society, building on its pioneering e-learning courses to bring its expertise to a global audience.