Ellen Goodwin


About me: I completed a BA Hons degree in French, Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds in 2015. The broad remit of this joint honour degree allowed me to explore what really interests me, and by my fourth year, I had focused my modules towards gaining an understanding of how religion(s) interact with society, politics and development. I then completed an MPhil at the University of Cambridge in World Christianities, during which I developed a deeper understanding of how one particular religious tradition was lived and experienced in different ways, outside of Europe and North America. For my MPhil dissertation, I focused in on the field of Religion and Development by exploring the intersections between the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, gender and HIV & AIDS-related development. During this time, I undertook internships with the DIFD-funded project Afghan Action and the interfaith charity 3 Faiths Forum (3FF) where I gained practical experience within an international development organisation and an insight into the realities of the place of religion in people’s lives.

I am currently studying towards an MSc in Research for International Development at SOAS, University of London, as part of a 1+3 PhD programme. This course is allowing me to broaden my knowledge of the field of Development Studies, to complement my background in Religious Studies.

My research: The name of my research project is: Building Inter-Communal Trust through Faith Partnerships for Aid Delivery. The aim is to help understand the interplay between partnership with Local Faith Communities (LFCs), in particular local faith leaders and other faith-based organizations, and interfaith engagement that can contribute to social cohesion in complex conflict and post-conflict settings. The intersection between humanitarian aid, social cohesion and long-term development will also be explored in this context. This research will contribute to a wider understanding of approaches to localization, as well as the role of faith communities in supporting trust-building in complex social dynamics.

This project will be carried out in collaboration with World Vision International who are currently developing their partnering guidelines at the grassroots level to complement their existing extensive expertise in partnering with local faith leaders to promote social change.

The difference my research makes: My research project will be situated within the growing interdisciplinary field of Religion and Development. Specifically, it will relate to the burgeoning argument for the localization of aid, by deepening the field’s understanding of the potential advantages of grassroots faith-based humanitarian responses. While donors and members of the wider humanitarian community have stated that they want to engage with faith networks, many have also observed that they do not know how to best do so. This project will therefore address this gap in the development sphere’s current understanding, by exploring what modalities of engagement are working in the field and what mechanisms exist for engagement at scale.

This research project seeks to make an impact beyond academia through its collaboration with World Vision International. It will hopefully provide guidelines outlining best practice and lessons learnt for World Vision International and other faith-based organizations, as well as for the wider policy and donor community.

Supervisor: Dr Mike Jennings

Pathway: International Development

Location: SOAS, University of London

Email: 657458@soas.ac.uk

Twitter: @AndReligion