This international workshop, in conjunction with a public lecture and panel discussion, took place on 7 and 8 December 2006. Prof. Jan Vranken (OASeS, University of Antwerp) and dr. Justin Beaumont (Urban and Regional Studies Institute, University of Groningen) were the academic promoters.
Some 30 international experts from a variety of fields exchanged research findings on the topic at hand. The common starting-point was the observation that faith-based organisations, such as churches and mosques, have in recent years come to play an increasingly prominent role in the fight against poverty and other social problems in urban centres. Topics dealt with included social, religious and spiritual capital; the specific properties of and reasons for the successes and failures experienced by faith-based organisations in their struggle against urban poverty; civil society and multi-level governance; the difference between European welfare regimes; and Islamic tools for poverty alleviation. The participating academics subsequently worked out a joint project proposal which could be submitted within the 7th framework programme for research and development of the EU.
During a public panel debate, the role of faith-based organisations in the fight against urban poverty in Antwerp was discussed. Representatives of various faith-based organisations in the city took part, including the Catholic and Protestant Churches, the Jewish charity organisation, the local centre for public welfare (OCMW), the Islamic community and the RISO (Regional Institute for Community Structure). The conclusion drawn was that faith-based organisations feel they can serve a supplementary role to government in this respect and that the issues of poverty among ethnic minorities and integration issues are closely interconnected.
This academic workshop resulted in the publication of the booklet Dialogue Series XI, Faith-based Organisations and Poverty in the City.
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