Hungarian Life Histories Research

Recognising the urgency of the fact that that unless historical traumas are processed and healed by one generation, they are passed on to the next, and realising that 20th century ideologies in Hungary have shaped individuals’ life paths and that political conflicts have prepared the ground for continuing violence by representing the ‘other’ as less than human, the GHFP has embarked on a research project that aims to get behind the ideological masks of people and restore their human faces.

Overseen by the GHFP’s Vice Chairman, Sharif Istvan Horthy, the research seeks to construct a space for telling and listening to life stories of ordinary Hungarian people who come from different backgrounds and generations. This life history and narrative process is intended to help unfold how Hungarians see themselves and their recent collective past, and what being Hungarian means to them in the 21st Century.

This life history project is itself an action research. It aims to reflect on the narrative processes and the participants’ experiences of change in their perception of self-identity, their stories and the ways they see others and the socio-economic and political situations in Hungary. In this way, the research methodology, especially through non-judgmental and open listening, seems to have enabled the participants to discover the underlying causes of current (social and political) attitudes. Whilst encouraging the participants to narrate their own lives and listen and attend to the stories of others, this action research is offering an opportunity for the community to re-vision Hungary’s social future. Those individuals who took part in the research project have acknowledged being able to see a close connection between retelling and sharing personal experiences and perspectives, and reconciling these with past traumas and the ways in which they can move forward in life and work.

Ethical education

Held at Highley Manor, 9-10 May 2017.
Discussion notes.


Globally, we confront an ethical crisis. On the one hand, for vast sectors of the culture we find an erosion in commitments to ethical values. In part this may be traced to the general secularisation of the culture (and the concomitant attrition in religious belief), and the rise of relativism. One might say there appears to be no right or wrong outside what the law requires and no purpose outside the self-serving. On the other hand, in other cultural enclaves, we find a hardening of traditional moral commitments. The secular shift of society places their commitments in increasing jeopardy. Here the resources are lacking for accepting and appreciating differences.

At the same time, in a world increasingly marked by indifference and sound bites, some people can be profoundly ignorant and unaware of how different the viewpoints, perceptions, experiences and emotions of others can be from one’s own, as if living in hermeneutical bubbles. There is much divisiveness and uncertainties in our societies: some people can be totally unconcerned about the suffering and plight of others, resulting in a general attitude of apathy and uncaring while others may flounder without compass in the face of multiple and competing values.

Educational institutions have played a major role in the erosion and uncaring, with their growing emphasis on information transfer (facts over interpretation), instrumentalisation (learning for the sake of career/monetary gains) and individualism (in various forms of self-absorption). In effect, there are few opportunities for ethical development in the public educational systems. There may be ethics, values and moral education components to the curriculum but these tend to be focused on imparting information about social issues and teaching moral reasoning. They do not necessarily help young people overcome the complex hermeneutical, epistemological and relational challenges of today.

In this context, we believe there is a case for a renewed interest in considering the possibilities and potentials of ethical education and ethical relationships in our schools, and called for an international seminar on ‘Ethical Education in Schools’ held in Highley Manor, England on 9-10 May 2017. The participants and contributors of the seminar are distinguished scholars in the field of education, philosophy, social sciences and dialogue. The main question posed during the Seminar was: “What changes in educational institutions would be essential in helping students to become more ethically aware, sensitive and motivated?” To explore this question, the discussions were divided into three parts: the first part was about the principles or ideas that we need to effectively approach the main question; the second part was to seek the general pedagogical guidelines or values that we need to articulate, and the third part was to survey and imagine the practices and processes in primary and secondary schools that might be directly relevant to our main question.

The following pages aim to capture some of the emergent insights from the seminar.

Our thoughts around the Seminar’s general question..

Education, with its focus on individual performance and attainment, can easily indulge self-absorption and instrumentalise learning. Therefore, for learning to be situated within relationships and for students to be less self-obsessed and more open to others, and to experience and express care for each other and for the world, the classrooms and the overall learning environment within schools must be where ethics is located. Schools must provide pedagogical conditions and curricula activities for nurturing caring relationships.

An ethical problem emerges when there is presence of differences and when we negotiate how to engage with differences. This can mean both becoming open to others who are different, and resolving our ignorance about the others. However, traditional epistemology tends to do with correcting false beliefs or errors in our knowledge but not dealing with ignorance. Hence the necessity for dialogue without giving up on oneself, which is incommensurable. The idea of strong and weak subjectivity points to dialogical subjectivity (in-between the two) which implies that people should co-create with others.

The fundamental educational question is about how to engage young people in dialogue with respect and appreciation of differences. Agency is a form of receiving, to receive the other, it is necessary to confirm oneself. The ethical is also about the existential and spiritual, such as longing for a good life. Human vulnerability suggests an opportunity to be open to the other. An articulation of our vulnerability is needed for the reorientation of the spiritual. Educational settings are communities for the sharing of vulnerability, they are spaces for sharing imagination – an inter-human exchange. Turning oneself outwardly towards others, a recognition of our sacredness.

There are three points of contention

First, self-other dichotomy could presuppose individualism which relies on ideas of persons as bounded entities, separated by boundaries. Likewise, although phenomenology starts with the ‘I’, experience itself is actually public (eg. pain in a boxing ring and pain from being beaten in the street). The notion of ‘I’ is quite different in different contexts. Therefore, the self must be conceived relationally rather than individually.

Second, although ethics is about creating the good, something worth living for, this in turn presupposes the idea of bad or evil and in that sense the ethical project could be dangerous. Educational practices (eg. through grading) already contain an implicit ethics of good and bad that are secularised and corrosive. Thus we need dialogue but without putting the individual at the forefront, co-creating and co-constructing the idea of goodness in the community.

Third, in western countries where moral ethics are no longer provided by religions and faith traditions, the ignorance of religion and faith can also increase the clashes between people about ethics. However, diversity requires value pluralism and a pedagogy of difference so that students can appreciate diversity more deeply. We need dialogue without clashes. For education to move towards a human-centred focus, it needs to reconstruct our values system and reconsider relationships in schools.

Theoretical principles of ethical education

The world is broken partly due to the fact that our socio-political structure instrumentalise people and we tend to treat each other as objects (eg, the way we place people into roles and functions and only treat them as so). Therefore we must consider the relational nature of our being, and that to be is to be with others and participate in each other’s being.

Ignorance isn’t only the lack of knowledge; it can also be the lack of caring for an area of knowledge. Ignorance of others can be a form of uncaring. This is important for our understanding of the epistemology of human relationships – to know others is to open ourselves to others in a caring way, and vice verse. (Aristotle’s approach to ethics through character education may seem to be seeking universality. Ethical education is more expansive, it is about learning to care.

There has to be tension in the principles, for example, between the uniqueness and interdependency, because uniqueness implies pluralism. Values can be divisive (eg. British values in British schools), so we should emphasise human values as opposed to Christian, Islamic or British values. This doesn’t mean humanism which can exclude other traditions.

It is necessary to decide on the scale of the ethical education project, eg. to address the spread of individualism and the ethical at a political level.

The ethical lies in the process, one of generating a future together, a common future for all.

Pedagogical Principles of Ethical Education

Ethical education in schools should not be isolated programmes. In the light of schools currently being designed as performance-based systems, ethical learning requires a holistic transformation of what school is, including a shared understanding of what it means for a school to be good. In the same vein, we must stress that the desirable relationship is the generative kind that helps create community in which people can dialogue about different views of the good.

A starting point would be mapping the sites for ethical education in existing schools. We need to look at the totality of school experience as young people learn from their whole school experience, including educational vision, ethos, pedagogy, curriculum, overall environment and encompassing relationships, as well as some of the programmes and projects. For instance, how do we teach, eg. literature, arts, science, in ethically and relationally enriching ways? How do we construct participatory spaces? (How did young people learn to uncare? How do they become less participatory?) The ethical concerns not just the relationship between teachers and students, it is also located in the relationship between children and young people themselves, as well as amongst other stakeholders in the community.

Mapping out ethical spaces can help schools identify their own ethical focus and determine their own processes, inviting a more participatory and collaborative project. We will need alternative language and discourse to speak about the ethical. Such language and discourse can only emerge from within the community and cannot be imposed from outside or predetermined by experts. Listening is a key, which applies to both teachers and students. It is really important to have a space for children and young people’s voices within a school. The space cannot be window-dressing, but needs to be well-framed, with content.
It is necessary to reconceptualise what learning is. Current focus on knowledge acquisition in education urges us to consider what knowledge is. One point to consider is that knowledge isn’t propositional, it can be something that we create together.

We need to move away from the idea that ethical education is only about religion or religious studies. However, ethical education could include components of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue and encounter.

Dialogue requires an equality between the interlocutors, the students and the teachers, so that all are respected as human beings. In dialogue learning, teachers are sometimes facilitators which would require different skills and sensitivities as well as a different way of being with the students (eg. the teacher is no longer the all-knowing.). This suggests that teacher training would allow an element of facilitators’ training. In the light of teachers’ vulnerability, the training will also nurture their courage to be a facilitator. One idea is to have contemplative workshops for teachers, not to teach contemplation but for teachers to experience how ethics can affect their teaching. Arts-based practice and learning through restorative justice can also support the ethical, both for the teachers and the students.

Young people will need protected space to explore their feelings, emotions, attitudes and relations. The teachers’ task here is to hold this space without too much directing or guiding. In this sense, sharing could be better than dialogue because it is more natural.

Providing opportunities for the students to decide how to present learning tasks and evaluate learning is part of the ethical (eg. students writing about their lives in formats of their choice). Such pedagogical practices are more empowering, and are conducive to developing ethical relations among the students and between the students and the teacher.

Practices of ethical education in schools

Ethical education focuses on building schools as spiritual communities. Good ethical education initiatives must: (a) touch the teachers’ attitudes and judgement (and is hence more empowering); (b) transform the student’s experiences (eg. increased respect for others); and (c) enable a buy-in from school leaders.

The school environment is a key, including the physical, social, emotional and overall relational environments. Mapping out these ethical spaces in schools can enable these spaces to be underpinned by sensitivity and aesthetics. They must be integral to school life.

The ethical educational project is about constructing ethical spaces that are relevant for students’ current experiences in schools and for our world today. In particular, we need more creative language to talk about this kind of education. We need to give names to these ethical spaces and work with teachers, students and others to co-create them.

It is equally important to offer teachers the kind of ethical space considered for young people (eg. dealing with bullying). Such spaces must be defined by the school and not detached from the normal practices of the school. For example, INSET days could offer rich spaces to explore the ethical, including the teachers’ own experiences of relationships.
The ethical must also apply to how learning is evaluated and reviewed so that evaluative practices continue to support the relational. This would be in total contrast to the individualist approach to testing which is not only oppressive, but also destroys relationships.

The power of examples through stories of good practices is highlighted. For instance:

(1) Two circles in a history class, the inner and outer. When a student has something to say, he/she moves to the inner circle, and can then offer the space for others to contribute by moving to the outer circle. This class demonstrates listening, engaging, giving voice.
(2) Counselling as a relational practice. Ethical spaces are defined by boundaries which are necessary for people to feel safe. A buddy system means that the students or the teachers can support each other in working through personal struggles through relational support.
(3) “Educating Together” in Ireland. This is an independent NGO that runs schools that guarantee equality of access and esteem to children “irrespective of their social, cultural or religious background”, are learner-centred in their approach to education and are run as participatory democracies, with respectful partnership between parents, pupils and staff. They are part of the state system. (
(4) Child Friendly Schools in China, supported by UNICEF. The project supports quality relationships, child well-being and whole-person learning. This is an illustration of shifting from a competitive approach to learning to learning to care. Other examples include democratic schools in Israel, in particular the bilingual Arab-Israeli schools.
(5) Play as an excellent way for children to learn ethically, eg. swimming together. The ethical is extended to beyond the boundary of the school, into the families, and other informal learning spaces. Play equally strengthens the relationships amongst children and adults.

Viewing it in this way, it would seem that in ethical education, the relational really matters. In other words, our project is to explore relational ecology.

Proposed ways forward

There was overwhelming enthusiasm to continue this dialogue and discussion about ethical education in schools. The group proposed four follow-up activities:

1. Re-Grouping: The proposal is to regroup at a later date to continue the conversation. The GHFP is willing to convene and host a second meeting.

2. Writing: The decision is to put together a collection of our articles and write the introductions and conclusions to the book collectively. Scherto and Garrett have been tasked to write a book proposal for the consideration of the Cambridge University Press’ series on innovation in international education.

3. Partnership: The idea is to find strategic leverages of change for developing ethical education in schools, such as working with UNESCO, and with schools including the Child Friendly Schools in China, the Educate Together schools in Ireland, and the teacher training programme in Israel.

4. Research: The suggestion is that at a later stage, we might apply for research grants to explore the ethical education case studies in these partners.

Report 2016

Foreword to the 2016 Annual Report by Simon Xavier Guerrand-Hermès.

We see ourselves as a non-affiliated institution who will support holistic visions of human well-being from the spiritual to the societal in the areas of education, dialogue, and livelihood under the broad umbrella of peacefulness.
We have developed working conception of human-centred education, an education that respects the child or young person as such and which makes his or her development its primary content. Thanks to our partners, this year we have been able to develop a pre-pilot project in a state secondary school in Brighton, which is an important step towards a more complete implementation of a HCE programme. The publication of the Human Centred Education Handbook by Routledge is also a significant step in this direction. We have been able to develop a closer partnership with the China National Training Centre for Primary School Leaders, and to share our understanding with educational experts in Europe and Asia.
This doesn’t mean that the GHFP is only wedded to one conception of good education. We have supported several other kinds of educational projects around the world, including a Youth Camp in Kalimantan, Indonesia and refugee education in Lebanon.
In recent years mutual understanding has been an important focus for the GHFP. We maintain support for efforts to spread understanding of the transformation power of forgiveness, especially in post-conflict situations, through the Healing the Wounds of History project in Lebanon. However, we also recognise the need for different kinds of dialogue forums that can touch the heart of peoples’ lives, and open up a deeper recognition and appreciation of people quite different from oneself. This has become an urgent need concerning political ideologies. In this regard, we hope sincerely that our work in Hungary, which shows the transformational power of the sharing of life-histories, will be useful in other parts of the world. Because of the deep importance of understanding how different dialogue spaces can work, we continue to contribute and learn from international forums such as the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the Initiative of Change.

Furthermore, supporting inter-religious dialogues has always been an important part of our work. This is for two primary reasons. First, human spirituality is at the core of our mission because of its central importance to human well-being, to the ethical respect of others and to peacefulness. Second, this importance requires that the religious communities of the world understand each other better. For these reasons, we continue to be engaged with the activities of interfaith organizations such as the World Subud Association and initiatives such as that to create a Museum of World Religions in Birmingham.
The GHFP has a growing interest in the practical meanings of peacefulness for socio-economic institutions and for governance. In this regard, we are very happy to have been active in the Spirit of Humanity Forum, and to learn from our partners, their vision of how governance in practice can become forms of deep caring. It has been inspiring to see human values at work for instance in the governance of the city of Reykjavik.
Thank you very much to the trustees, officers and staff of the GHFP. It is my great pleasure to thank the partners of the GHFP and to extend a warm thank-you to all the organizations with whom we have collaborated this year.

Please review or download the 2016 Annual Report

Rwanda HWH Conference 2012

International Workshops on ‘HEALING THE WOUNDS OF HISTORY: ADDRESSING THE ROOTS OF VIOLENCE’ were proposed jointly by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, in collaboration with the Mizero Foundation and the Rwandan Professional Dreamers, and with support from the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide and the National University of Rwanda.

It was held at Hotel Rwanda in Kigali on June 13-14 2012. The event was opened by Bishop Dr John Rucyahana, the President of Rwanda National Unity & Reconciliation Commission.

The main aim of the event was to explore the psychological roots of violence in recent Rwanda, and to identify new modalities of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness, between both individuals and groups.

To learn more about the conference, please visit the official Healing the Wounds of History RWANDA page.

Lebanon HWH Conference 2011

Healing the Wounds of History conference 2011 was the major launch event please refer to the official website or follow the community on

Under the High Patronage of His Excellency, the President of the Council of Ministers, Mr Najib Mikati, the Centre for Lebanese Studies and the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, in partnership with the Institute of Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation, have organised the International Conference on ‘Healing the Wounds of History: Addressing the Roots of Violence’. The Conference was hosted by the Lebanese American University on 11-13 November 2011 at its’ campus situated in the beautiful ancient city of Byblos, Lebanon.

The Conference explored the innovative psycho-social approaches to addressing the deeper roots of violence. The goal was to establish constructive relations between the people and communities in present-day Lebanon. Read the Concept Paper

Click here to download a Summary of the Keynote Address and the Power Point Presentation given by Professor Vamik Volkan.

to raise awareness about the need to resolve historical grievances as a step towards social harmony in Lebanon and beyond

to help people learn more about the diverse approaches to addressing the roots of conflict and cycles of violence in our society

to catalyze a process that will implement the key insights and methods from the Conference through a series of nationwide projects that touch all communities

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh

Museum of World Religions

Welcome to the Museum of World Religions, and introducing to you this planning and co-ordination phase of a Project to establish a Museum of World Religions in Birmingham, England.
The project was inspired and initiated by the Dharma Master Hsin Tao who founded the first Museum of World Religions in Taiwan.

The focus of the project is to establish a Museum of World Religions in Birmingham. This may alternatively be named the ‘UNESCO Centre of World Religions’ or the ‘UNESCO Centre of Inter-Religious Understanding’. It is envisaged to be a world-class institution, probably in a multi-storey, purpose-built building, along the lines of the great museums of the world.

The Museum is intended to be a shared space for dialogue and understanding between people from different faith communities as well as for people of no religion or faith. It will serve as an educational resource for learners of all ages, and provide an opportunity for individuals to explore the part that religion plays in contemporary life.

Many partners are contributing both creatively and financially to this project in order to help develop its concept, content and direction.In November 2010, the MWR (UK)’s workgroup convened a one-day symposium to discuss the project’s Concept Paper, in consultation with scholars and leaders from the diverse faith communities in Birmingham.

Please refer to the Concept Paper.

Please do Contact us by email
Museum of World Religions
UK Charity registration number 1134301

Museum of World Religions Concept 2010

22nd September 2010

Table of Contents
A. INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
B. MISSION ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2
C. GOALS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2
D. APPROACHES ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2
E. QUALITIES …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3
F. PROGRAMMES …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
G. PRACTICAL ASPECTS …………………………………………………………………………………………. 5
MEMBERS OF THE WORKING COMMITTEE ………………………………………………………….. 6

This proposal is to establish a world-class Museum of World Religions in Birmingham (possibly to have the status of a ‘UNESCO Museum of World Religions’). What is envisaged is an inspiring, outstanding, and innovative educational and cultural institution, along the lines of the great museums of the world, such as can be found in the National Mall in Washington, DC (USA). Its prime purpose will be to showcase ideas and values rather than artefacts. It will be housed in a purpose-built building, which will itself be inspiring, outstanding, and innovative.
The idea to create such a museum in Birmingham was inspired by the Museum of World Religions in Taiwan, which was founded by Dharma Master Hsin Tao. The Birmingham project, while supported by the museum in Taiwan, is an autonomous initiative. This Concept Paper was prepared by a working committee consisting of individuals from diverse religious and non-religious backgrounds; their names are listed at the foot of this document.
The need for such a museum is exceptionally timely. In today’s increasingly globalised and fractured world, members of different faith communities and ethnicities find themselves sharing a common space. At the same time, humanity is facing unprecedented challenges––environmental degradation, poverty, war, violence between groups and communities, uneven distribution of material wealth, social disparity, injustice, alienation, and many other problems. The proposed Museum is intended to provide information and resources for individuals to reflect on the meaning and role of religion amidst these challenges, and how religion can indeed be a positive force for global healing, social transformation, and personal growth in the twenty-first century.
We have considered a variety of locations in the UK and come to the conclusion that Birmingham is the most suitable site for this project. This is because of its central location in the UK, its European character, the strong and diverse religious communities in the city, and its history of interest in and support of religion generally. Birmingham also has an international airport and excellent conference facilities.
The project has received outline support from the key entities in Birmingham: the University of Birmingham: office of the Vice-Principal. It also has the academic support of the Department of Theology and Religion, which is among the largest university departments of Religious Studies in the country, as well as from
(a) the UNESCO Chair in Interfaith Studies based in the same Department (the only UNESCO Chair in this field in the UK).
(b) UNESCO: the UK National Commission for UNESCO.
(c) Birmingham City Council.
(d) Religious and faith communities in the city.
The support of the above four is dependent on precise financial and contractual relationships, yet to be determined. We believe that it is appropriate for the Museum to be affiliated with UNESCO, which has so far established fifteen Chairs in Interfaith Studies across the world (linked together in a common ‘UNITWIN’ programme), and which enjoys wide respect for its commitment to cultural diversity, intercultural understanding, and an unbiased approach to the social issues centring on religion. It will follow the UNESCO definition of the aim of a museum––to develop and transform society.
The Museum is to be regarded as a common space for the many religious communities in Birmingham, and to reflect the central importance of religion in human life. It would not have any particular religious or political affiliation. The project would have an educational value for the general public and would be the first of its kind in Europe, possibly the first in the world (outside Taiwan). It would lead the way.

The mission of the Museum is to:
1. Encourage respect for religion by introducing visitors to the core values, wisdom, and practices of all the major world religions, and in this manner illustrate the need for religion in an increasingly secular and environmentally threatened world;
2. Cultivate mutual understanding and respect between the major religions by helping people from different backgrounds become more aware of the rich diversity of religions, thereby addressing the social needs of a culturally pluralist and multi-religious society in context;
3. Show the complexity of the difficult issues that religious traditions face in the modern world, such as the encounter between religion and science, and the desire to hold on to ancient principles and venerate sacred texts whilst simultaneously embracing change;
4. Encourage the recognition of the importance of inter-religious dialogue and religious education as vehicles contributing to social stability and world peace;
5. Serve as a major educational resource for teachers and students of theology and Religious Education in Britain, Europe, and beyond;
6. Exemplify UNESCO’s four pillars of learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be, as expressed in Learning: the Treasure Within, the report of the UNESCO International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century (1996).

The Museum has the following broad goals:
1. To provide an opportunity for people of different backgrounds to get to know, understand, respect, and learn from each other, including a respect for diversity and for each other’s religions;
2. To become a national and European resource for religious education and provide information about religion in general as well as specific religions;
3. To celebrate the role and relevance of religion, both for individuals and for society;
4. To stimulate constructive and critical reflection on the role of religion in our global society;
5. To nurture a religious consciousness of love, compassion, and sharing, and an understanding of how religion can provide individuals with comfort and reassurance, and answer the need for hope;
6. To show how shared values can serve as a link between religions;
7. To create an atmosphere that stimulates spiritual awareness and a sense of humility;
8. To offer a sacred space for worship that can touch people’s hearts and minds, generate goodness, and inspire people to stand up for justice.

The Museum intends to approach these goals by
1. showing what religion has to offer, in terms of love, compassion, humility, generosity, hospitality, wisdom, caring, peace of mind, and other qualities;

2. offering a safe space where people from diverse backgrounds can meet, talk, and––especially––listen to each other;
3. providing rich information about the world’s religions as well as meaningful experiences and encounter for all visitors, especially young people and other learners;
4. presenting the world’s religions thematically as well as through materials on each religion, in a way that is interesting to people of different faiths and to those without a religion;
5. showing two sides of religion: (a) the internal (religion as it functions for the individual): how religion provides wisdom and can thereby elevate and purify the human heart and spirit, and (b) the external (religion as it functions in society): both the positive aspects, through the emphasis on love and compassion, family and community life, education, moral and social values, and also the negative aspects, such as extremism, triumphalism, sexism, coercion, violence, and war;
6. challenging scepticism and encouraging people to explore how better to incorporate religious values into their daily lives.

The museum would embody the following qualities:
1. Inclusiveness
The Museum will have a spirit of inclusiveness (including gender inclusiveness), which extends to those who have no religion or religious affiliation, and practical solutions will be sought so as to be inclusive of all the world’s religions;
2. Simplicity
The Museum will be characterised by simplicity, so that it can be accessible to all visitors including children;
3. Beauty
The Museum and its surroundings should be beautiful; so that people will be drawn to visit it from far and wide for its attractiveness, even if for no other reason;
4. Celebration
The Museum will be a celebration of religion, rather than being defensive and apologetic;
5. Living phenomenon
The Museum will be lively and inspiring, showing that religion is a living phenomenon;
6. Interactivity and accessibility
The Museum will use cutting-edge interactive technology and be accessible to a broad audience, a living space rather than isolated exhibits of artefacts that are no longer useful;
7. Unity, diversity, and controversies
The Museum will include themes of unity, diversity, and controversies:
 with regard to unity, the Museum will focus on the core inner or spiritual aspects of religion, as well as the outer social aspects of religions; it will also highlight shared values through approaches that are both intellectual and experiential;
 with regard to diversity, the Museum will include that which is different and difficult. This means that it will not only emphasise commonalities and differences amongst religions, but also raise difficult questions, e.g. conflicts between and within religions, false/forced and

materially induced conversion, gender bias in religions, martyrdom, and the involvement of religions in historical and present-day conflict, war, and terrorism.
 with regard to controversies, the Museum will not aim to create controversy, but rather to show the complexity of religious issues, including constitutional matters (such as the notion of freedom of religion, or the separation of church and state).
8. Sharing and outreach
The Museum will strive to reach as wide a range of people as possible, by catering to individuals of both elementary and advanced levels of knowledge about religion. The Museum intends to attract religious leaders of all faiths to become actively involved in its work and to become patrons of its message to secular society.
9. Transformation
Through its programmes for and within communities, the Museum will be a catalyst for change and transformation, greater inter-religious understanding, and for peaceful living together;

The Museum has seven programmes:
Permanent Exhibition
Through its permanent exhibitions,
 the Museum will express the nobility of religion to all audiences, including people of no religion. The core is to show the values and practices that religion can offer to secular society;
 the Museum will create a space for spiritual practices, e.g. worship, meditation and prayer. Representatives from religious communities should be available to visitors to communicate about their religions;
 the Museum will provide opportunity for encounter with sacred experiences, for instance through music and art, as important components of religious experience.
The exhibitions will consist of two main elements:
(a) mapping out the geographical and historical origins of the world’s religions and their influences on particular cultures, and how religions have developed over time (including the development of their sacred sites). The idea is to show the inter-connectedness of religions and how they may be viewed as a jigsaw puzzle, coming from and inspired by the same source, but appearing and interacting in different spaces and times.
(b) a thematic approach to a series of topics. Each theme will include three or four religions on a rotating basis, and will address what a particular religion has to say about a specific subject, such as morals and values, family, education, hospitality, the life cycle, ecology, the immigrant experience, and other topics including unity, diversity, and controversies as described above. In this way the intention is to enable particular religions to express what they wish to say on specific topics. Rotating the contributions of different religions will maintain freshness and encourage visitors to return.

For practical reasons, the emphasis will be on the main religions of the world. Religions that cannot be given adequate exposure will nevertheless be provided for, either by touch screens in the permanent exhibition space or by temporary exhibitions. It is proposed that the Museum will not have its own permanent art collection or seek to acquire one; rather it will collaborate with other museums to exhibit materials on a loans basis.
Temporary exhibitions
The Museum expects to maintain appropriate links with other institutions, and to sponsor joint exhibitions and similar projects. Visual and other tangible aspects of religious culture will be included, such as art, food, festivals, rituals, the beauty of calligraphy, and so on. This can open people’s eyes and hearts to what their neighbours do.
Special events and interfaith meetings
The Museum may host special events proposed by any religious community or communities, including the celebration of religious festivals as appropriate, and provide a venue for interfaith meetings and other activities.
Community outreach
The Museum will provide a link with places of worship in the local community.
Seminars and educational work
The Museum will benefit from collaboration with the University of Birmingham, the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group, and interfaith organizations in the city of Birmingham and the West Midlands in many aspects, such as holding conferences, lectures, and seminars; and also with a programme of interfaith studies. It will accommodate the needs of researchers and be sensitive to students who wish to serve as volunteers and interns.
Dialogue and conflict resolution
The Museum will be a neutral place for inter-religious dialogue, and for religions in conflict to meet. This will enhance community harmony and social cohesion at local and national levels.
Website and other publications
The Museum will have an interactive and informative website; and from time to time sponsor publications such as catalogues and other publications as appropriate.

1. Architecture
The Museum will be twenty-first-century state-of-the-art, for example by using large spaces (possibly including a central atrium) so as to allow visitors a sense of freedom in exploring the building and its exhibitions on several floors. Specific provision will be made for an important element of the building to have the atmosphere of a living, sacred space suitable for worship, contemplation, and prayer; a large auditorium, to enable important special events to be held at the Museum; smaller meeting rooms, for the benefit of local interfaith groups to hold their events; and an outdoor garden, to facilitate both personal meditation and public cultural festivals from time to time.
2. Facilities for visitors
In keeping with its character as a world-class, visitor-friendly institution, the Museum will include a Visitors Information Desk, supplying leaflets showing the content and location of the different elements of the Museum’s exhibitions; a cinema showing a short, specially commissioned orientation film introducing visitors to the subject-matter of the Museum; other, smaller rooms with facilities for groups to watch a video, hear a short lecture by their guide, and engage in a discussion; booths with touch screens to enable visitors to explore specific topics, become involved in personal question-and-

answer sessions about their opinions (for example, on ethical issues), or turn the pages of sacred texts and the great religious books; a good bookshop (stocking both popular and scholarly publications on the world’s religions and religious studies in general, as well as appropriate religious souvenirs from across the world); programmes and facilities that are family-friendly; convenient access for the disabled; and a food hall with a variety of self-service facilities offering food deriving from the different culinary traditions of the world’s religions.
3. Personnel
The first formal step that has been taken to establish this Museum is the creation in 2010 of a Charitable Trust (registered in the UK), whose trustees have been drawn from among the members of the working committee listed below. The trustees recognize, however, that the practical aspects of taking the project forward will require a very wide range of suitably qualified personnel, to include the following specializations, headed by a project manager, an exhibition designer, and a curatorial team: exhibition fabrication, mount making, production support, graphics, media production, photographic services, conservation, collections management, interactive graphics and software, publications editor, community services, external affairs and development, and a fundraising director.
4. Community consultations
Consultations with the faith communities will constitute the most creative part of the Museum’s development, by providing community curators and exploring how it is hoped that visitors will experience the Museum of World Religions––and, thereby, assisting the planners achieve a project which is worthy of its name.

Josef Boehle, Coordinator of the UNESCO Chair in Interfaith Studies, University of Birmingham
*Rodney Dodds, Reader Emeritus, Church of England
Marius Felderhof, Senior Lecturer, Dept. Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham
Scherto Gill, Research Fellow, Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, Brighton, UK
*Maria Reis Habito, International Programme Director, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan
Farida Hashem, Senior Consultant, Felixia Associates
*Sharif Horthy, President, Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, Brighton, UK
Tuti Horthy, Trustee, Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, Brighton, UK
*Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Founder, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan
*Kurt Schreiber, Advisor, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan
*Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Birmingham
Sukhbir Singh, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Birmingham
Garrett Thomson, Professor of Philosophy, College of Wooster, Ohio
Connie Webber, Managing Editor, Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, Oxford
*Jonathan Webber, Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in Interfaith Studies, University of Birmingham
*Trustees of the Museum of World Religions (UK).
MWR (UK) is registered as a Charity in the UK. Registration No: 1134301