Social Reformers Summer School 2018 Report

Our 2018 Summer School Participants at the Gala Dinner.

Each year, the Social Reformer’s Summer School brings together Christians who want to influence public life. This year’s Summer School took place on the 12th-15th July, with eighteen participants who came from all walks of life, and many different countries.

Topics and Speakers

The first day of the School opened with a talk from Jubilee Centre Director, Jonathan Tame, on the significance of being salt and light in society (reflecting on Matthew 5), followed by two profiles of Christian social reformers, Toyohiko Kagawa and Elizabeth Fry, delivered respectively by our own Philip Powell and guest speaker Baroness Dr Julie Smith. The second day of the programme explored strategy for social reform, with talks from Dr. Michael Schluter on relational thinking, a presentation by Danny Kruger on ‘Crafting and Communicating Narratives for Social Change’  and seminars on politics, the environment and business with guest speakers, Gareth Wallace, Caroline Pomeroy and Jonathan Rushworth. The final day gave our participants the chance to explore their own vision for social change with a series of practical workshops. We were also pleased to finish the School with our Gala Dinner, where we welcomed theologian Craig Bartholomew who spoke about ‘Join the winning side: journeying towards that place where justice and peace embrace’. Talks from our Summer School are now available online.

Reflections from a Participant

We heard from one participant, Ben Anderson, on his experience at the School and its application for his work in social policy.

Ben Anderson, Participant in the Social Reformers Summer School 2018

“I decided to apply for the Social Reformers Summer School because I’d reached a point where I really needed some inspiration and direction on how I could be more effective as salt and light in my particular context. I work in financial services and serve as a local councillor in Wiltshire, with a special responsibility for public health and adult social care. This is a very challenging brief because (as is well-known) the cost of providing these services is currently in excess of what the state can afford. I was looking forward to learning from high-profile speakers on how they also tackled challenging briefs across their different sectors.

When I arrived at the Summer School, the first thing that struck me was how attractive Westminster College was! During the School, the group of participants quickly made friends, and as I got to know everyone I was really impressed by their knowledge and experience. There were people from Switzerland, America and Africa, and I learnt so much from talking through my ideas with them. Their different cultural and social perspectives (on what I had assumed were one-dimensional issues) really tested my assumptions and provided me with new ideas about how things could be done. I think we’ll all stay in touch and keep encouraging each other.

Before the school, I knew that the state would not be able to continue to provide all the welfare and social support services that have been prevalent in recent decades—but there wasn’t a clear plan for what would take its place. However, since the Summer School I’ve been delving deeper into how we can build social policy on Relational Thinking, an idea introduced by some of the School’s speakers. I’d never heard this term before, but it encapsulates so much of what I’ve struggled to express. I’ve already been using the Relational Thinking theory to reflect on the policy agenda I’ve been working on. It feels this is the right time for a new approach to social policy and what a powerful theory to influence it!”

To register your interest in next year’s Social Reformers Summer School, please contact

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Category: News and Reviews

October, 2018

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