Centre for Religion, Reconciliation and Peace
A high-impact centre dedicated to fostering peace and reconciliation across the world.View content
The University of Winchester’s Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peace (CRRP) was established in 2010 to help advance knowledge and understanding in the areas of religion and peacebuilding, and reconciliation.
As a high-impact research centre dedicated to helping make a tangible difference to those affected by structural violence and armed conflict, our work is particularly focussed on examining the crucial links between theory and practice in religious peacebuilding and reconciliation processes, and how each informs, challenges and enhances the other.
We strongly believe in the power of collaboration, and the importance of cultural and contextual forms of peacebuilding, and we work with academic partners; secular, religious and faith-based organisations; and government and multi-national institutions worldwide. We offer training and consultancy in many areas of peacebuilding and reconciliation, and highly commended post-graduate courses.
Explore the tabs below to find out more about our work and our impact.
What we do
Meet the team
- Dr Mark Owen, CRRP Director
- Rebecca Bellamy, CRRP Coordinator & Partnerships Officer
- Dr Seb Bytyçi, Academic Officer and Programme Leader MA Reconciliation/MA Reconciliation and Peacebuilding
- Professor Simon Keyes, Professor of Reconciliation and Dialogue
- Professor Anna King, Professor of Religious Studies and Social Anthropology
Religion and Conflict Analysis
One of the primary areas of focus for CRRP is enhancing our understanding of the role of religion in driving conflict and how it can support effective and sustainable peacebuilding processes. Over recent years, Dr Mark Owen and Professor Anna King have been working in a variety of contexts to systematise understandings of the role of religion in conflict and peacebuilding, and to devise a theoretically informed yet practical and accessible framework for peacebuilding practitioners worldwide.
In 2017 Dr Owen was invited to co-author a guide with Owen Fraser from the Centre of Security Studies, ETH Zurich. The ‘Religion in Conflict and Peacebuilding Analysis Guide’ was commissioned by the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, the Salam Institute for Peace and Justice, and the United States Institute for Peace (USIP). It was published in 2018 and is intended as a practical guide on religious peacebuilding for governments, peacebuilding institutions and faith-based organisations around the world. The USIP intends to translate it into several different languages and distribute it globally. Click here to download the Analysis Guide or summary.
Dr Owen and Professor King have also recently designed the first risk assessment table focussing specifically on religion in peacebuilding project design and implementation. Download the table and the template table here:
- CRRP Religion and Conflict Analysis Risk Assessment Table
- CRRP Religion and Conflict Analysis Template Risk Assessment table Nov 2019
The current stage of the project is focussed on designing a theoretical framework that can be applied to peacebuilding case studies, in order to better understand which factors are most instrumental in ensuring that the correct conditions are created for enhancing the impact and effectiveness of religious peacebuilding initiatives.
Religion and Peacebuilding in Asia
Since 2015, staff from CRRP have been carrying out research and supporting peacebuilding projects across Myanmar, carried out by the faith-based organisation Religions for Peace Myanmar. Work has included carrying out conflict assessments, peacebuilding project design and implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of projects as well as delivering training and workshops on dialogue skills, interfaith dialogue, conflict analysis, and religion and peacebuilding. Areas of focus include Kyapuk Pyu and Mrauk U in Rakhine; Pyay and Meiktila in Central Myanmar, as well as locations in Chin and Kachin.
Risk assessment fremework
Data from this research have informed a number of reports and publications, and resulted in the design of the first risk assessment framework for project design and implementation focussing specifically on religion in peacebuilding projects and initiatives. The downloadable risk assessment framework can be found above.
Between 2011 and 2015, Dr Mark Owen and Professor Anna King carried out five periods of fieldwork in Nepal with religious organisations and NGOs. They published journal articles and conference papers, submitted a report to the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, and ran a series of consultative workshops and a national conference in Nepal. The April 2015 earthquake shifted the focus from peacebuilding to disaster recovery, but Dr Owen and Prof. King continued their work there in 2016. In 2019 they partnered with Lumbini Development Trust and the government of Nepal to host its second international conference on ‘Religion and Culture in Conflict and Peace: Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in South Asia in 2019’, in the holy pilgrimage centre of Lumbini, birthplace of the historical Buddha.
This project was one of the University's highlight case studies for REF 2014. For more information on the project Religious Peacebuilding in Nepal, visit the REF website.
The CRRP has an MOU with the University Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyayala (DSV) in Haridwar, north India. In January 2020 we will be partnering on a conference taking place at DSV on ‘Higher Education and the Sustainable Development Goals’: a subject extremely close to the heart and mission of the University of Winchester. At the conference, DSV will also launch its own research centre, focussing on Religious Peacebuilding in Asian Culture, Religion and Philosophy, an initiative that has been supported by CRRP, with Dr Owen acting as the Honorary Director.
Religion and Migration
Since 2016, in partnership with the European Council of Religious Leaders, CRRP has been carrying out a project examining multi-religious approaches to integration. The project is designed to test anecdotal assumptions that in some circumstances there are tangible benefits to faith-based organisations and religious communities working together on integration projects and initiatives. It also examined the benefit of multi-religious participation host communities.
Drs Lyck-Bowen and Owen have published an article detailing the results of the first phase of the project: Lyck-Bowen, Majbritt & Mark Owen (2018) A multi-religious response to the migrant crisis in Europe: A preliminary examination of potential benefits of multi-religious cooperation on the integration of migrants, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 45:1, 21-41. Read it online.
Examining contextual forms and processes of reconciliation
Whilst as a concept reconciliation is contested, it is also recognised as an essential element of the process of bringing individuals and communities back together after violent and/or structural conflict. Our work on reconciliation is intended to critically examine the theories and practices of reconciliation in diverse contexts. The main aims of this project are to support groups and organisations who wish to become engaged in reconciliation processes and work to:
- Test existing assumptions about reconciliation which at individual and/or organisational level, and how the context in which they are working shapes ideas around reconciliation
- Consider how existing theories and frameworks on reconciliation enhance/contradict/can assist ideas around reconciliation processes and activities
- Help carry out a skills and training audit in order to see how existing knowledge and capacity matches opportunities for engagement, and mentor the planning of projects/initiatives/strategies related to reconciliation
Prof. Keyes, Dr Lyck-Bowen and Dr Owen have conducted workshops and training with groups from Rakhine and central Myanmar; Syrian refugees in Gaziantep, Turkey; the South Caucasus, examining the protracted conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh; the Sami in Finland. They are also supporting the design and implementation of a National Reconciliation Framework in Somalia. In 2018, Prof. Keyes facilitated a workshop for representatives of the Afghan Embassy in London.
The Centre is also developing a comprehensive database on Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. Once launched in 2019 it will be the largest of its kind in the world.
Buddhism and conflict transformation
Exploring the relationship between Buddhism and conflict transformation is of particular interest to CRRP staff Prof. Anna King and Dr Mark Owen. Both have presented papers on this subject at conferences in the UK and Asia, including a proposed framework for analysing Buddhist peacebuilding in different contexts; on the holy pilgrimage site of Lumbini and its role in the Nepal peace process; and an analysis of the ‘Tibet Question’ and the Dalai Lama.
Work in this area has informed the design of a curriculum on ‘Buddhism and Conflict Transformation’; which was commissioned by the United States Institute of Peace, and aimed at secondary school students in South East Asian Buddhist communities. The curriculum was implemented initially in schools in Myanmar in 2018; with the intention of being promoted in other Theravada countries including Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos in 2018-19. The Centre also has a close relationship with the Centre for Applied Buddhism based at Taplow Court, Maidenhead (UK); and in in 2016 we held a joint conference on Buddhism and Conflict Transformation, with Johan Galtung as the keynote presenter. Future work will focus on systematising different approaches to Buddhist peacebuilding, and examining the apparent advantages and disadvantages of a range of different approaches.
Postgraduate courses and supervision
The centre offers two postgraduate courses: MA Reconciliation and Peacebuilding and MA Reconciliation. Our courses provide a comprehensive and critical understanding of a broad range of contemporary debates relevant to the study of reconciliation, peacebuilding and religious peacebuilding. Our students also develop a wide range of transferable competencies and skills that are important for their future career in peacebuilding, reconciliation and related fields.
"I kept working in my job (as director of the reconciliation programme of an international humanitarian NGO working with refugees) while doing the Master’s and now a year has passed since I completed. The MA has made an immeasurable difference, giving me the confidence, knowledge, skills and contacts to do this challenging work with more motivation, expertise and hope." Danielle Vella, Head of Mission, Jesuit Refugee Services
The Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peacebuilding (CRRP) provides a supportive and professional environment for Doctoral students to carry out cutting-edge research, whilst receiving guidance from academics and practitioners working at the forefront of their fields. Our deep knowledge of peacebuilding and reconciliation, allied to our practical focus and worldwide networks, makes the Centre a particularly suitable environment for PhDs with practical dimension and/or policy implications.
We are a high-impact research centre dedicated to helping to create a free, just and peaceful world. We aim to do this by sharing excellence in knowledge, understanding, skills, relationships, and best practice in reconciliation and peacebuilding. The Centre is one of the few academic institutions globally offering an intentional, systematic, and proactive approach to peacebuilding. We take for granted the assumption that research should impact on the wider society and emphasise theoretical knowledge as a way of bringing greater understanding to practice and policy. In order to discern and test the reality of such impact we devise evaluation frameworks, engage in reflexive critical scrutiny of our own research and sophisticated analysis of decision-making processes.
Our Centre seeks to create a global community of scholars by its partnerships with other universities, institutions, and non-governmental organisations. Our research is enhanced through international research projects, visiting fellowships, ethnographic field research, distance-learning programmes, teaching, and continuing professional development and training. We engage with national governments, multilateral agencies and non-governmental organisations, and work in many areas of the world including Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the USA.
Areas of supervision
Staff have the skills and expertise to supervise doctoral studies in all areas related to:
- Religion and peacebuilding
- Reconciliation theory and practice
- Conflict assessment and analysis
- UN Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding
- Conflict and peacebuilding in the Middle East and North Africa
- Interfaith dialogue and multi-religious action
- Peacebuilding in Dharmic religions and contexts
- International Criminal Law and Accountability for Mass Atrocities
- Transitional Justice
- Integration of Migrants and Refugees
We especially welcome expressions of interest from applicants anywhere in the world, working with conflict affected communities to address their challenges of peacebuilding and reconstruction. And we are also keen to receive proposals which encourage the theoretical development of the wider discipline of Reconciliation and Peacebuilding.
Training and Consultancy
The CRRP offers training and consultancy services in a range of different areas, and support for peacebuilding and faith-based organisations, and governments and policy makers. A major focus of CRRP is ensuring that all our practical solutions and workshops are informed by the most up-to-date research and evidence in the areas.
CRRP offers training and/or consultancy services in the areas of:
- Conflict analysis and assessment
- Designing and implementing peacebuilding projects
- Monitoring and evaluation for peacebuilding
- Engaging religious actors in peacebuilding projects
- The theory and practice of reconciliation
- Dialogue skills and facilitation
- Interfaith dialogue and multi-religious action
- Building peacebuilding partnerships and networks
Our training workshops and programmes are usually designed in consultation with commissioning partners to ensure they best meet the requirements of participants. With our extensive contacts, we also help build partnerships for research, practical peacebuilding work, and policy formation between government institutions, peacebuilding practitioners, academics, and religious leaders and communities.
Our training and consultancy has helped support peacebuilding and reconciliation processes globally. Previous partners and collaborators include:
CRRP's founding partners are St Ethelburga’s Centre of Reconciliation and Peace in London and Religions for Peace International in New York.
St Ethelburga’s works to inspire and equip people from all backgrounds to become peace-builders in their own communities and lives. St Ethelburga’s works for the integration of refugees and asylum seekers by building relationships across differences and by training young people to become allies to displaced people. They seek to empower young adults to lead and collaborate across faiths and culture, working particularly with sacred activism and spiritual ecology. And they offer quality training in all their approaches and methods.
Religions for Peace International is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action among the world’s religious communities for peace. Religions for Peace works to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies, and protect the Earth. The global Religions for Peace network comprises a World Council of senior religious leaders from all regions of the world; six regional interreligious bodies and more than 90 national ones; and the Global Women of Faith Network and Global Interfaith Youth Network.
European Council of Religious Leaders
The Centre is a key partner to the Religions for Peace regional body, the European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL). The ECRL was established in Norway in 2002 as a platform to enhance communication and cooperation between senior religious leaders of different faiths across Europe. The Council draws on the rich religious traditions and values that are an integral part of Europe’s history and fabric, in order to support the enhancement of social and environmental harmony, and peace and stability throughout Europe and the wider world. ECRL remains one of the most representative and respected pan-European collaborations of senior religious leaders in Europe, and is seen by many as an important body for promoting respect, tolerance, justice, and the rule of law.
Religions for Peace International is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action among the world’s religious communities for peace.
CRRP has been providing support and expertise to help sustain and develop the ECRL since 2016, including helping implement projects on religion and integration, freedom of religion and constitutions, EU/MENA collaboration on migration, and the establishment and development of interfaith councils across Europe.
Rebecca Bellamy currently serves as ECRL Secretariat Manager, and Dr Mark Owen as Secretary General.
In June 2018 the Centre launched its first international conference on ‘Religion and Culture in Conflict and Peace’. In 2018 we welcomed two excellent keynote speakers for our inaugural conference: Susan Hayward from United States Institute for Peace, and Professor Mohammed Abu-Nimer Senior Advisor to the King Abdullah Centre of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue.
In 2019, we partnered with the Lumbini Development Trust and the Nepalese Government to deliver our 2nd International Conference on Religion and Culture in Conflict and Peace in Lumbini, Nepal. The conference focussed on Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in South-Asia and included esteemed keynotes, Professor Hugh Miall from the University of Kent, and Steve Killelea, founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace.
The conference is an annual event, and is intended to be participative and collaborative. If you are interested in partnering with us, or hosting the conference, please contact Dr Mark Owen to discuss further.
Our conference website is updated with the next conference annually.
The centre has hosted regular public seminars for many years, inviting speakers to present on a range of challenging issues, particularly topical issues where the events have required much needed space for critical discussion. We have in the past explored conflict and peacebuilding in Ireland, Syria, the Balkans, Israel & Palestine and many other contexts. Events are often organised at relatively short notice in response to requests and availability. To sign up to our newsletter and keep informed of forthcoming events, email Rebecca Bellamy.
Images of Research Exhibition
The Centre has participated in both of the University's Images of Research exhibitions held so far. In the inaugural IoR in 2017, we focussed on our peace and reconciliation work in Myanmar, and in the 2018 edition, the focus was on the implementation of the Prevent duty in primary schools. Both exhibitions can still be enjoyed online as virtual exhibitions HERE (2018) and HERE (2017).
Our peace and reconciliation work in Myanmar was the focus of our contribution to the 2017 Images of Research exhibition.
CRRP leads a University of Winchester partnership with PeaceJam UK to host an annual conference with Nobel Peace Laureates at the University. Peacejam offers young people aged 13-18 the opportunity to come to the University to spend two days with a world leader of peace. Led by University mentors, they participate in workshops around current global issues. In 2015, WCRRP welcomed Jody Williams from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
In 2016, the University welcomed the Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum, an indigenous woman from Guatemala who was awarded her Nobel Peace Prize "in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples". View photos from Peacejam 2016 here (with thanks to the Jersey Rotary Club).
Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum, centre, with CRRP Director Dr Mark Owen and Vice-Chancellor Prof. Joy Carter
In 2017, we welcomed Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian peace activist responsible for leading a women's nonviolent peace movement, Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.
Peacejam 2018 was cancelled due to snow but in March 2019 we were delighted to welcome Betty Williams, co-founder of the Community of Peace People, who energised the young people with her stories of creating change in Northern Ireland and across the world.