Religious Communities under COVID-19: the first pandemic of the postsecular age?

Hosted by LSE's public event series - COVID-19: The Policy Response

Online public event


Professor Azza M. Karam

Professor Azza M. Karam

Elizabeth Oldfield

Elizabeth Oldfield

Dr James Walters

Dr James Walters


Dr Katerina Dalacoura

Dr Katerina Dalacoura

Faith communities have been prominent in public discourse since the beginning of the pandemic. Religious gatherings have been identified as a major sites of transmission raising tensions in many countries between believers and the secular authorities seeking to regulate them. But many people are also searching for meaning and faith groups have adapted to online worship and support to meet the need for hope and connection in the face of suffering and isolation. The pandemic seems to be fanning the flames of some existing religious tensions. But there are also new opportunities for a positive role for faith in the public sphere. How will COVID-19 reshape the religious landscape in the future?

Azza M. Karam (@Mansoura1968) is Secretary General of Religions for Peace International; Professor of religion and development at the Vrije Universiteit, and lead facilitator for the United Nations’ Strategic Learning Exchanges on Religion, Development and Diplomacy. Former senior advisor on culture at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); coordinator/chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development; senior policy research advisor at the United Nations Development Program in the Regional Bureau for Arab States; and president of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations.

Elizabeth Oldfield is Director of Theos. She appears regularly in the media, including BBC One, Sky News, the World Service, and writing in The Financial Times. She is a regular conference speaker and chair. Before joining Theos in August 2011, Elizabeth worked for BBC TV and radio. She has an MA in Theology from King’s College London

James Walters (@LSEChaplain) is the founding director of the LSE Faith Centre and its Religion and Global Society Research Unit. He leads the team in the centre’s mission to promote religious literacy and interfaith leadership through student programmes and global engagement, along with research into the role of religion in world affairs. He is a Senior Lecturer in Practice in the Department of International Relations and an affiliated faculty member at the Department for International Development.

Katerina Dalacoura is Associate Professor in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2015-16, she was British Academy Mid-Career Fellow and in 2016-19 she participated in a project on the ‘Middle East and North Africa Regional Architecture’, sponsored by the European Commission under the auspices of Horizon 2020 (2016-19).

This event is part of LSE's public event series - COVID-19: The Policy Response.

COVID-19 represents an enormous challenge for the social sciences to help governments and non-governmental organisations respond to the economic and societal consequences of the pandemic. Part of LSE's response to this challenge is a series of online public events that will take place over the Summer Term.

Why not visit the School of Public Policy COVID-19 Resource Centre.

This event in the series has been organised by the Department of International Relations.

The next event in this series will take place at 2pm on 30 June on Negotiating Our Post-Brexit Future: where are we heading?

The Department of International Relations is one of the oldest as well as largest in the world. We are ranked 4th in the QS World University Ranking by Subject 2019 tables for Politics and International Studies.

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A podcast of this event is available to download at Religious Communities under COVID-19: the first pandemic of the postsecular age?

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