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Workshop on Faith, Energy and Society on 3 March 2017

last modified Jul 19, 2017 10:47 AM

The University of Cambridge’s Strategic Research Initiative for energy researchers, Energy@Cambridge, organised a workshop on Faith, Energy and Society, in partnership with The Faraday Institute, Woolf Institute, Von Hügel Institute for Critical Catholic Inquiry (VHI) and the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics (KLICE). The event was led by Dr Jonathan Chaplin, Director of the Kirby Laing Institute; member, Divinity Faculty, University of Cambridge.

The workshop was part of the Energy@Cambridge’s Grand Challenge called, ‘In Search of “Good” Energy Policy’, whose aim is to identify optimal practices and principles for designing and implementing the best possible energy policies.

Faith, Energy & Society - News page - image 2

The main questions the workshop addressed:

1. What insights or practices from faith traditions might shed light on cultural or ideological drivers of ‘bad energy’ practices (e.g. ‘consumerism’, carbon-dependent conceptions of economic growth, resistance to lifestyle change and instrumentalist views of nature) and hindering ‘good energy’ initiatives?

2. What insights or practices from faith traditions might be relevant to the question of the distribution of institutional and societal responsibilities that the provision and management of energy demands, i.e. the state and other tiers of political authority, industry, households, markets, civil society?

The workshop consisted of three sessions. The first two sessions were panel discussions, which addressed the questions concerning cultural drivers and societal responsibilities, and the contributions that faith groups might have on policy debates. The third session, a moderated discussion between representatives from faith groups and experts from industry and government, intended to integrate the ideas raised in the earlier sessions with the practical constraints of policy making.

Session 1: Cultural drivers of ‘bad energy policy’: insights from faith traditionsFaith, Energy & Society - News page - image 3

Session 2: Allocating responsibilities for ‘good energy policy’: insights from faith traditions

Session 3:  Policy applications: moderated round table

A summary of the workshop can be found here.


The key contributors included:

Prof Tim Cooper (Co-Director, Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and products, Nottingham Trent University)

Dr Ed Kessler (Director, Woolf Institute)

Dr Fazlun Khalid (Director, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences)

Dr Jeremy Kidwell (University of Birmingham)

Dr Hilary Marlow (Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and Cambridge Divinity Faculty)

Mr Gopal Patel (Director, Bhumi Project, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies)

Dr. Hildegard Diemberger, Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Saba Khalid, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Associates of the Cambridge University ‘In Search of “Good” Energy Policy’ project included:

Dr David Good (Behavioural science)

Dr Jacqueline Lam (EPRG and Hong Kong University)

Professor David Newbery (Public policy)

Dr Jim Platts (Engineering)

Prof Michael Pollitt, Professor of Business Economics and Director, ‘In Search of “Good” Energy’ Policy (GEP)

Dr David Reiner (Political science)

Dr Sandy Skelton (Economics of consumption)