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  4. Belonging and Faith in Law

Belonging and Faith in Law

Central issues in our understanding of citizenship and governance include our sense of belonging, the rule of law, and respect for fundamental rights in balancing equality and liberty. This stream addresses such matters and has reached out from its base, the Law School, in the Faculty of Business and Law, and in this Citizenship and Governance Strategic Research Area to undertake multi-disciplinary research in collaborations across The Open University. For example, we proposed, and then Dr Olga Jurasz and Professor Simon Lee played a central role in curating, The Open University’s Year of ‘My-gration’, 250 daily blog posts throughout 2018, which indicated the range of interests in the OU and among our community partners, leading to further partnerships.

Our ‘Reflecting Space’ symposium was the first point of sustained encounter between our astrobiology team and researchers in the Law School and Business School. This led to the £6.7m grant from Research England to AstrobiologyOU to address the research question, ‘Are we alone in the Universe?’ This in turn led to the appointment of Dr Thomas Cheney in space governance, and to PhD studentships. The first fruits of this include a multi-authored article on planetary protection.

Law in Motion book cover

Researchers within this stream have addressed questions of belonging and governance in the UK in the wake of Brexit and during lockdown. Examples include essays on devolution, international law, our relationships with the European Union, belonging, and lockdown in the book Law in Motion edited by Dr Lisa Claydon, Dr Caroline Derry and Dr Marjan Ajevski.

We have attracted new researchers in this stream, such as Mark Hill QC, a leading practitioner and researcher in ecclesiastical law, law and religion, and freedom of religion areas which complement the research of Jessica Giles and Professor Simon Lee

First, there is the relationship between law and religion, which has become increasingly fraught. In different countries, there are widely differing views on the extent to which faiths and beliefs should be accommodated within legal systems. Some think there should be a special place for freedom of religion as of paramount significance. Some think it should just be one right among many. Some think that there is no place for special treatment for religions in modern societies. Even those who agree on one of these positions, however, can disagree strongly on what that should mean in practice. For example, should people of different faiths be allowed to wear religious symbols or clothing in the workplace?

Second, in many communities around the globe, there is a lack of confidence in the rule of law. In this sense, the ‘Faith in Law’ stream encourages critical research into the rule of law, its even-handedness in particular states and attitudes to it. In the UK, politicians often use ‘the rule of law’ in their lists of ‘British values’ but is there anything special about our legal systems?

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A-Z of Brexit: A guide to Brexit terminology

This glossary has been designed to explain some of the key terms used in relation to Brexit.

Download the guide

Year of Mygration

250 insights into how migration affects all of us, not just migrants.

Posted throughout 2018, 5 days a week for 50 weeks, ahead of the OU’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2019.

Learn about the campaign

Download the C&G newsletter

Check out the October 2018 newsletter:

Download as pdf