Polarisation is a phenomenon that has become ubiquitous across Europe. The division and polarisation can also be seen across multiple lines be they; urban-regional, national, or generational, to name but a few. It has multivariate causes and symptoms. The causes range from echo-chambers and online misinformation to very real economic and social inequalities across and between cities and regions. The symptoms range from fractious public discourse to international conflicts - and then subsequent immigration crises. These symptoms then in turn feedback and further exacerbate the polarisation.
Cities (as shared physical communal spaces) and faith communities (as groups that foster shared values) have great potential as sites for alleviating these divisions. However, religion and communal-cohesion are double-edged swords, which can also be used to erect boundaries and reify such divisions. There are also divides between and within communities depending upon e.g. one’s age-group or whether one is working from the grassroots or from a top-down policymaking space. Therefore, it is often difficult to unlock this rehabilitative potential through genuine dialogue and then build back towards a functioning pluralistic society.
The Cities Faith and Community Forum (CFCF) is a Pan-European network with partners across the interfaith-civic and policy space, from universities and research hubs, to grass faith communities and municipal governments in Cities throughout the continent. Steering-group partners include: The Blanquerna Observatory (Barcelona); The Center for Cultural Dialogue (CKD - Zagreb); The Dublin City Interfaith Forum (DCIF); Edinburgh Interfaith Association (EIFA) and Faiths Forum for London (FFL) which hosts the secretariat. Given the nature of its network, CFCF is in a unique position to take a holistic approach toward confronting and alleviating some of these sites of polarisation.
We are therefore launching a programme bringing together people from the civic-interfaith space, both policy and grassroots individuals and with representation across the generations.
We are aiming to launch this programme this summer.
Professional Practitioner Webinars - Sharing Best Practice
CFCF runs a series of online webinars where we bring in distinguished speakers and professional practitioners from across our network, to share best practice and learn from each other.
In our highly interconnected yet increasingly fractious world, many communities and civic actors face similar challenges in cities across Europe.
Our Professional Practitioner Webinar programme is in essence about peer learning and dialogue. The programme operates at different levels of exclusivity depending upon the sensitivity of topic, and gives practitioners a chance to engage and learn from one another.
You can find out more about some of these events by visiting our blog posts here.
Youth Leaders Programme
One of the great challenges of our time is ensuring the younger generation has a voice in their communities and broader society. The Millennials and Gen-Zers are both highly educated generations who have not yet gained a foothold in society in terms of both economic assets and positions of leadership.
We believe the lack of the youth voice feeds into the cementing divisions, and stagnating fractiousness we are seeing across Europe.
It is of course important that young people have positive role models and learn from the experiences of older generations, but it is also important that they find their own voice and built the confidence to take on positions of leadership.
We believe that faith communities and a broad network with varied expertise provides an ideal setting for this process of development and intergenerational learning and exchange to take place.
A key stream of our programmes and in-person events are therefore targeted and dedicated to bringing young people into the civic-interfaith space.
Our mission is to provide a platform across leading cities in Europe for facilitating and developing learning and sharing best practice through positive engagement between faith groups, city governments and institutions, in order to build more inclusive and integrated cities.