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On prisons. How does religion play a role in our prison system and can faith stop prisoners reoffending? We speak to Dr Ruth Armstrong from the Institute of Criminology in Cambridge to assess these questions before a hands on discussion with Imam Farooq Mulla and Bob Wilson, both of whom have spent years bringing their faith to the UK's incarceration system. What are the challenges of this job? In what ways can prisoners be redeemed? And does our prison system need urgent help?



On prejudice (II). How prevalent is Islamophobia in Britain? In what ways does it permeate our society? And what can we do to tackle it? First, the Woolf Institute’s Julian Hargreaves talks definitions and common misconceptions. Then Ed chats to Samayya Afzal, from the Muslim Council of Britain about the nature and scale of the problem for Muslim communities as well as her own ideas about how to forge a better future. Featuring Ed Kessler, Julian Hargreaves, Samayya Afzal and David Perry.



On prejudice. Daniel Staetsky from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research joins Ed to examine antisemitism based on hard evidence. How antisemitic is our society? Are antisemitism and criticism of Israel linked? And what might the future hold for Britain’s Jewish community? We move beyond public rhetoric to Daniel’s key research into the phenomenon of antisemtism and its diffusion in contemporary society… featuring Ed Kessler, Daniel Staetsky and David Perry.


Between Texts, Beyond Difference

On Interfaith. We eavesdrop on a Muslim/Jewish dialogue between Rick Sopher and Shaykh Mogra as they negotiate the parallels between their two religious texts. What are the similarities? How do we manage the differences? And how can understanding each other strengthen our faith? Featuring Ed Kessler, Rick Sopher and Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra.


The Future with Martin Rees

On the future. Astronomer Royal Martin Rees describes himself as a 'Cultural Anglican' rather than a believer. A recipient of the Templeton Prize, he's spent a lifetime examining the evolution of the Universe, including negotiating between religious dogma and scientific revelation. How do we reconcile faith into our scientific understanding of the future? What problems face humanity? And could religion ease the bumpy ride ahead? Featuring Ed Kessler, Martin Rees and David Perry.


Beyond Accessibility

On disability. Pam Mungroo presents Sunday Breakfast on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire - the god slot. Yet despite choosing to be baptised at an early age, she struggles to reconcile her faith with her disability. In this episode of Encounter we move beyond issues of accessibility to look at the fundamental conflicts between religions and the disabled. God and suffering, and the existential question of belonging... featuring Pam Mungroo, Ed Kessler, Florence Oulds, and David Perry.


God in the Machine

On artificial intelligence. Beth Singler is a self-confessed geek. As a kid, she loved Star Trek and other science fiction; today she spends all her time researching our attitudes to technology - especially artificial intelligence. In this episode, Beth talks sentient AI. What questions do these machines raise? And can religion answer them? Photo © AHRC / TIMSTUBBINGS.COM


Q&A with Ed Kessler

On the Woolf Institute. In this episode, producer David Perry sits down one-to-one with Woolf Institute founder Ed Kessler. How did the Institute go from Ed's dream to a leading voice in interfaith relations? In a world of quick reactions and questionable facts, can courteous dialogue and research really help?



On refugees. The world is in the midst of a refugee crisis. Over six million refugees have escaped Syria alone since the conflict began there - but only around 11,500 have resettled in the UK. In this episode of Encounter we hear from Bayan about his own difficult journey from Syria to the UK. We ask how this crisis compares to those the world has seen before, and how someone copes when their host country has a different majority religion to their own. Featuring Ed Kessler, Bayan Almasri,...


Pilot: Should we send our children to faith schools?

On education. Join Ed Kessler and guests Julian Huppert, Azadeh Moaveni and Austin Tiffany as they discuss and debate religion and education in the UK. Are faith schools good for society as a whole or do they breed division? Should faith schools receive taxpayers’ money? What part do faith schools play in the lives of the non-religious?


Music and Changing the World

On music. If music be the food of love... from Christian and Muslim contributions to Andalucian flamenco, to the secularism of modern jazz, religion and music are deeply intertwined. Is there really such a thing as Jewish, Muslim, or Christian music? Are songs the great uniter, or is context more important? Will Ed ever overcome his childhood trombone-based traumas? Featuring Matthew Machin-Autenrieth, Dunya Habash, and David Perry.


God on the Pitch

On football. On the momentous occasion of the World Cup, we at the Woolf sat down to discuss how religion plays a role on the pitch. Is football the new religious experience? Does it transcend our human differences or reinforce them? Most importantly, who will emerge victorious in Moscow on July 15th, and is God on their side? Featuring Ed Kessler, Esther-Miriam Wagner, Jessica Tearney-Pearce, and Rodrigo Garcia-Velasco Bernal. Encounter is a discussion podcast produced by the Woolf...


Troubled Minds

On mental health. With the UK's Mental Health Awareness Week taking place in May, this week's Encounter delves into how religious belief affects the troubled mind. Can faith help to protect against mental illness? Does religious doctrine ever prevent open emotional discussion? What responsibilities do faith communities have to help each other? Featuring Ed Kessler, Ruth Adams, Mark Strivens, and Dunya Habash. Encounter is a discussion podcast produced by the Woolf Institute and presented by...


Being Offended, Being Offensive

On offending. In the first episode of Encounter, join Ed Kessler and guests Hira Amin, Dunya Habash, and Julian Hargreaves as they discuss and debate being offended and being offensive. When does freedom of expression become offensiveness? How do we deal with violence in our religious texts? Are we as a culture too easily offended? Encounter is a discussion podcast produced by the Woolf Institute and presented by its Founder Director Dr Ed Kessler. Episodes will explore the relationship...