Andrew Mason (University of Warwick)
Andrew Mason is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Warwick. From 1998 until 2012, he was Professor of Political Theory at the University of Southampton, and prior to that he held positions at the University of Reading, the University of Hull, the University of Oxford, and the University of St Andrews. His most recent book is Living Together as Equals: The Demands of Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2012), which he wrote whilst holding a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship. He is also the author of Levelling the Playing Field (Oxford University Press, 2006), Community, Solidarity and Belonging (Cambridge University Press, 2000), and Explaining Political Disagreement (Cambridge University Press, 1993), and of a number of articles in scholarly journals. Together with Matthew Clayton and Adam Swift, he is currently working on a project entitled 'Faith Schools: Policies and Principles', funded by a Spencer Foundation Major Grant.
And here is a brief summary of the research I propose to conduct: In Britain and other European countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands, there is a strong tradition of publically funding schools with a religious character. In principle, at least, some such schools might have a very light religious touch, for example, they might have a religious ethos that informs their rules and policies but no ambition to enrol children within their religion. They might also regard the cultivation of a variety of civic virtues, including religious tolerance, as an important part of their mission, and they might select both pupils and employees without any regard to their faith. It is hard to see what could reasonably be regarded as objectionable about publically funding a school that has this kind of religious character. In practice, however, most schools with a religious character depart from this relatively innocuous model in one or more ways: they may aim to enrol children within their religion by inculcating its central doctrines; they may reject a full-blown civic education on the grounds that it would have the effect of undermining the child’s faith; they may operate with an employment or admissions policy that involves giving preference to children from families that adhere to the faith or applications from teachers who do so. In the light of these possible features, I propose to explore the normative principles that should govern faith schools, both state-funded and privately funded, through a careful consideration of the interests and rights of parents, children, and of citizens considered collectively.
Period of Stay: March - May 2017
Tel. + 39 055 4685 653 (int. 2653)