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Assessing the Effectiveness of Interfaith Initiatives

In collaboration with Georgetown University (Qatar) and the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID), and with the generous support of the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), this Woolf Institute research project will deliver the first cross-country comparison of interfaith initiatives in Qatar, UK, and India to determine how best to assess their effectiveness in improving interfaith relations.

A multi-national, multi-lingual and multi-faith team of investigators has been assembled, including a local partner in Qatar, DICID, to conduct the pioneering research. The project will integrate social research, historical and policy analysis, and religious studies to develop a framework for analysing how interfaith encounters affect change. When disseminated to audiences of experts, policymakers, and activists, the study's unique results will enhance understanding of the factors that influence the successes and failures of interfaith initiatives and how best to analyse effectiveness across and within different contexts. 

The study is the first ever to examine the effectiveness of interfaith initiatives and to conduct empirical research in multiple locations. The results will be of interest to numerous bodies, including government agencies, religious institutions and interfaith activists, who have invested significantly in interfaith initiatives and have pushed for more investigation of impact. The choice of countries reflects levels of religious diversity, policy toward religion and the historical legacy of interfaith relations. 

Amongst the three countries, Qatar is characterised by high levels of religious diversity due to the large expatriate, rather than indigenous population; India by longstanding inter-religious tensions and violence; the UK, by a long history of interfaith activity, often funded by private support. The three countries also represent Middle Eastern, European, and Asian examples with different organisations of majority-minority relations between religions. The study will lead to a deeper understanding of both local and global interfaith relations, which will be of particular value to the State of Qatar, the most active country in the Gulf for initiating interfaith activity, particularly relations between the three Abrahamic faiths – Islam, Christianity and Judaism.