LATEST UPDATE: Launch of COVID-19 Chronicles: Beyond the UK video series

Successfully Working from Home: the Woolf Institute

9th April 2020

Our work is continuing. The Woolf Institute is fortunate to have creative and hard-working researchers, students and staff along with an infrastructure that is flexible and adaptive, allowing us to carry on improving relations between religion and society during this extraordinary time.

Our week begins, as usual, with our team meeting and 15-20 smiling faces dialling in from around the world reporting on their work. Some highlights are that Sam, in Montreal, is working with Tara and Emma, in Cambridge, inducting 89 students from 19 countries onto our Religion Is... online course. Alissa, in Israel, is collaborating with Miriam and Tara in the UK to establish the Woolf online research seminar, Bringing the Shrine Home, which began on Tuesday 7 April 2020 and continues on 14th. Helen and John are keeping donors and supporters informed and continue to fundraise where possible for current and future initiatives. During these challenging times, a donation to the Institute will help us to continue our activities. Ed is working with David, Tara and Claire to produce Naked Reflections podcasts, this week In sickness and in health, and the COVID-19 Chronicles: a new series with Ed interviewing faith leaders about how they are connecting with their communities in this time of crisis.

Even before official restrictions were put into place, the Management Team, with the support of the Founder Director and Trustees, had begun adapting the Institute’s principle of responsible stewardship of its resources to meet the new environment in which we find ourselves. We aim to continue to offer Woolf Institute online activities, materials and resources throughout the pandemic. In doing this we also need to keep the welfare of our staff and participants at the forefront of what we do and to try and ensure that we are in a position to offer the Institute’s wider range of in-person encounter events, teaching and activities alongside remote resources when the pandemic subsides.

These measures include moving all possible staff to home-working and closing our building temporarily to everyone except the five residents of our onsite apartment. We are making cost savings where possible and 18% of our team, who would otherwise be on fieldwork in communities in cities like London and New York, or whose work is closely connected with serving in-person visitors to our building, will take Furlough Leave. We are tremendously grateful to the team members who have agreed to support the Woolf Institute in this important way during these challenging times.

The Woolf Institute continues to offer its online courses, training, teaching and learning materials, and other related content for people of all backgrounds with an interest in improving relations between people of different beliefs, especially Jews, Christians and Muslims. We encourage you to take a look and to engage with items that are new to you, or to revisit familiar favourites using the links below.

We are also working out new ways of helping our colleagues at other organisations, such as schools, government departments, companies and faith groups. For example, we continue to develop schools’ materials from our Living in Harmony and Religious Sisterhood projects and are accelerating and adapting module development for delivery via webinars and online meeting software to home schoolers, or with a view to being able to share sessions and materials with schools during social distancing phases as countries around the world gradually come out of lock-down measures. We welcome further suggestions as to others who may benefit from access to such online materials, courses and virtual events.

With your help and support we continue to work towards a world in which collaborative discussion and constructive engagement overcome prejudice and intolerance. Thank you for being on this journey with us. Should you have any questions about the Woolf Institute’s work and operations, please do not hesitate to contact any of us development@woolf.cam.ac.uk.

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