Shaping debate on religion in public life.

Temple Fellows’ Award Recipient Announced

1 Feb 2022

It has been announced that Dr Matthew Barber-Rowell FRSA is the first recipient of a William Temple Foundation Fellows’ Award. This award is for early career academics who demonstrate significant impact through their PhD research.

The Fellows’ Award has been developed using a legacy from Len Collinson, former Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside, Honorary Professor of the University of Central Lancashire, and business leader in northwest England. Collinson recognised that enterprise and interdisciplinary partnerships were central tenets of a flourishing society.

Barber-Rowell’s PhD research offers a new paradigm for Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs), called Spaces of Hope. Spaces of Hope was co-produced through networked gatherings, engaging over 900 people and 70 organisations across public, faith, and community sectors—as well as ethnographic research in the northwest of England. Spaces of Hope redefines FBOs for a 21st century context and serves social policy by reframing understandings of assets and partnerships. In this way, Spaces of Hope offers a new generation a set of tools to address existing interdisciplinary problems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created liminal conditions, leaving people vulnerable to unemployment, financial loss, hunger, and other social ills. Government measures have aimed to address issues of unemployment and basic income, but the national response has also been heavily reliant on civic, community, and faith-based organisations, as evidenced in the Keeping the Faith Report (2020) and the Kruger Report (2019), which considered the future of civil society in a post-Brexit policy context. The post-COVID context that we are emerging into raises questions about what a ‘new normal’ looks like for society and the aspirations of new generations of British citizens who are engaging in policy and practice.

Barber-Rowell’s work will consider implications for Spaces of Hope within this post-COVID and post-Brexit context in the UK by:

  • developing a new Spaces of Hope participation network
  • testing and expanding the Spaces of Hope approach to developing assets and alliances
  • a monograph focussed on post-COVID leadership and shared values

Professor Simon Lee, chair of Trustees at the Foundation said:

A core part of the Foundation’s work has been supporting William Temple Scholars as they pursue their doctoral studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. Trustees have now committed to encouraging Scholars, once they have been awarded their PhD, to apply their research in society. Congratulations to Matthew on leading the way.

Professor Baker, who supervised Barber-Rowell’s PhD and will be Principal Investigator for the post-doctoral work being developed using the Fellows’ Award Fund said:

This research is timely, capturing as it does the grassroots search for connection and meaningful living as a response to years of austerity, neo-liberalisation, individualism and the existential questions posed by COVID-19 and climate emergency. This search is increasingly rooted in values and beliefs, and crosses over previous divides predicated on ideology, secularity and religion in the search for joint approaches to address key local issues.

For more information, contact Matthew at

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