Professor Chris Baker

William Temple Professor of Religion and Public life

I am interested in the relationship between religion and public life, and therefore the impact religious ideas, identities and practices have on politics and public policy in the UK and beyond. My teaching and research is therefore concerned with a critical, balanced and empirically derived exploration of the endlessly changing relationship between religion and secularism in an increasingly diverse and fluid public sphere. Although trained as a theologian, my work is increasingly interdisciplinary, including especially political philosophy, sociology and human geography and public policy.

My latest research project is an AHRC network research grant entitled ‘Re-imagining Religion and Belief for Public Policy and Practice’ with Professor Adam Dinham from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Video link

Click here for an overview  of some of my latest research and thinking :

Globalised Religion in an Era of Uncertainty

 

Telephone:  01244 511089
Email:  chris.baker@chester.ac.uk

 

 

Qualifications

BA (Hons) (Manchester), BTh (Hons) (Southampton), MTh (London), PhD (Manchester)

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

Overview

Although born in the South, I read English at Manchester and immediately felt at home with the city and the Northwest region as a whole. Several years later, following several years in community work and theological education I was fortunate enough to return to Manchester as Director of the William Temple Foundation. I also taught Urban Theology at the University of Manchester. I arrived in Chester in 2009.

My doctoral research was on the engagement of churches in English New Towns (I lived in Milton Keynes for seven years) and this experience cemented for me the importance of urban space, theology, public religion and spirituality. My work for the Foundation has therefore been primarily concerned with mapping and analysing the role and identity of faith in urban life, an interest that has now broadened to include civil society and social policy. I am also working with European colleagues on ideas of the postsecular city.

My current role at Chester is as Associate Programme Leader for the Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology programme, and as Director of the Centre for Faiths and Public Policy, which seeks to develop further research and education into religion and public life in the UK and beyond. Both these initiatives are part of a partnership agreement between the William Temple Foundation and the University of Chester. Since 2013, I have also been External examiner for the M.Th in Chaplaincy Programme University of Cardiff (2013 - 16)

Current CV available at: https://chester.academia.edu/ChrisBaker

Twitter: @DrChrisRBaker

Google Scholar Citations: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=T2wIv8sAAAAJ

Teaching

Postgraduate Modules

  • Urban Theology
  • Introduction to Faiths and Public Policy
  • International Perspectives of Faith and Public policy
  • Literature Review

Research

Research Interests

  • Religions and civil society
  • Religions and social policy
  • Religions and urban life
  • Urban ecclesiology
  • Religions and wellbeing and happiness
  • Religions and politics

 

PhD and DProf Supervison

I welcome enquiries for research at doctoral level in any of the areas listed above and any students wishing to explore other areas of Public or Political Theology.

PhD Supervision (* denotes supervision to successful completion)

  1. Heath Adamson - What psychographic variables shape the belief system of A/G Millennial Christian Leaders and what is its impact on leadership? (International Student) (2020)

  2. Olusola Akanbi – A critical evaluation of the Nigerian Pentecostal church as an agent of change in wider Nigerian society (International Student, 2020)

  3. Matthew Barber – The role and significance of communities of practice for the Faith Sector for participation in public service transformation in public service transformation in Cheshire West and Chester (2020)

  4. Nick Briggs - Critically evaluating the concept of the Common Good in a pluralist society (submit 2020).

  5. Robert Bull - Role of stipendiary clergy (30 years on from Tiller Report) in postsecular, postmodern environments*

  6. Claire Dawson – Regeneration, Narrative and Urban Mission (submit 2016)

  7. John Fielding - URC ecclesiology for 21st century inner-urban areas*

  8. Richard Impey - Studying and deploying the wisdom (phronesis) of local congregations - overlapping into organisational theory*

  9. Margaret Jones – Developing a theology and political leadership of rapprochement (submit summer 2016)

  10. Melissa Maher - A transformed Church and City—Developing a discipleship model of urban public theology(International Student, 2020)

  11. Alistair Prince - Perichoresis, Pot Plants, Prayer Cards and Poiesis: A renewed pastoral paradigm emerging out of care of the dual diagnosed and conversations with midwives and obstetricians*

  12. Phil Rawlings - Muslim perceptions of Christians in multi-ethnic urban environments (submit 2016)

  13. Derrick Watson - Common Spaces - Graffiti church and Deleuzian streetspace (submit 2016)

  14. Tony Whelan - Pastoral Care of Premier league Academy Schoolboy Footballers (with particular reference to Manchester United)*

  15. Andy Wier - Community work and church mission - new paradigms in urban regeneration areas*

 

 External Funding

Aug 2014-Sept 2016

Re-Imagining Religion and Belief for Public Policy and Practice (Arts and Humanities Research Council - £45,000 – CI)

Jan 2013 – June 2014

 Philosophy and Religious Practices Research Network (AHRC) (Arts and Humanities Research Council - £27,000 – CI)

 

April 2007 – April 2010

Faith and Traditional Capitals – defining the public scope of religious capital (Leverhulme Trust, £144,000 – PI)

Jan – June - 2009

Faith, Secularism and Public Policy (Economic and Social Research Council, £14,000 – CI)

Oct 2007-July 2009

Promoting Greater Human Wellbeing: Interacting the happiness Hypothesis and Religion (ESRC/AHRC Religion and Society Programme, £23, 400 – CI)

April 2002 – June 2005

Regenerating Communities – A theological and strategic critique (Church Urban Fund, £25,000 – PI)


 

Published work

Books

2017

Postsecular Geographies: Re-envisioning Politics, Subjectivity and Ethics with Paul Cloke and Andrew Williams (London and New York: Routledge)

2015

A Philosophy of Christian Materialism – Entangled Fidelity  and the Public Good, with John Reader (UK) and Tom James (U.S.) (Farnham: Ashgate)

2011


Christianity and the New Social Order, (London: SPCK) - monograph with John Atherton and John Reader

2009


The Hybrid Church in the City - Third Space Thinking 2nd edition (London: SCM Press)

2007

The Hybrid Church in the City - Third Space thinking (Farnham: Ashgate).

Edited Books

2017

Chris Baker, ‘Postsecularity and a New Urban Politics – Spaces, Places and Imaginaries’ in Religious Pluralism and the City eds. Helmut Berking, Jochen Schwenk and Silke Steets, London, Bloomsbury 

2011

(with Justin Beaumont) Postsecular Cities - space, theory and practice (London and New York: Continuum)

2009

(with Peter Scott and Elaine Graham)  Remoralizing Britain?: Social, Ethical and Theological Perspectives on New Labour (London and New York: Continuum)

2009

(with John Reader) Entering the new theological space - blurred encounters in faith, politics and community (Farnham: Ashgate)

2008

(with Laurie Green) Building Utopia?: Seeking the Authentic Church for New Communities (London: SPCK)

Other Selected Publications (since 2008)

In edited collections:

2017

‘Urban Ecology and Faith Communities’ with Elaine Graham in Brill Companion to Public Theology eds. S.Kim and K.Day (Leiden: Brill)

2016

‘Religion as ‘urban white noise’ – material practices of everyday religion at the 'unquiet frontiers' of the global hyper-diverse city’, in Religion and the Global City, eds David Garbin and Anna Strhan, (London: Bloomsbury)

2016

‘Responsible Citizenship after Rawls’ in Austerity, Community Action and the Future of Citizenship Policy Press eds S. Cohen, J. Bock and C. Fuhr), (Bristol: Policy Press)

2013

‘The contagion of the sacred and the right to the city: modalities of belonging, becoming and participation amongst diasporic religious communities, and the growth of the postsecular city’, eds. J.Garnett and A.Harris, Rescripting Religion in the City: Migration and Religious Identity in the Modern Metropolis, (Farnham: Ashgate).

2012

‘Exploring Spiritual Capital – a resource for an uncertain future?, eds. M. O’Sullivan and B. Flanagan, Spiritual Capital – Spirituality in Practice in Christian Perspective, (Farnham, Ashgate)

2011

‘Postcolonialism and Religion: New Spaces of Belonging and Becoming in the Postsecular City’ in Postsecular Cities – space, theory and practice, ed. J.Beaumont and C.Baker (London:Continuum)

2010

‘The ‘one in the morning’ knock: exploring the connections between faith, participation and wellbeing’ in The Practices of Happiness – political economy, religion and wellbeing, eds. J.Atherton, E.Graham and I.Steedman (London, Routledge)

2009

‘Social, Religious and Spiritual capitals: A Psychological Perspective?' in International handbook of Education for Spirituality, Care and Wellbeing ed. de Souza, M., Francis, L.J., O'Higgins-Norman, J., Scott, D. (London, Springer)

2009

‘Faith, language and faith literacy' in Faith in the Public Realm: Controversies, Polices and Practices, ed. A. Dinham, R. Furbey and V. Lowndes (Bristol, Policy Press)

2008

‘Contemporary renewal in the centre of the city' in The Church at the Centre of the City ed. P. Ballard (Peterborough, Epworth).

 

Journal articles:

2017

Christopher Baker and Adam Dinham ‘New Interdisciplinary Spaces of Religion and Belief in Contemporary Thought and Practice: an analysis’ - Religions (forthcoming)

2016

Christopher Baker ‘Faith in the Public Sphere – in search of a fair and compassionate society for the 21st century’ - Journal of Beliefs and Values 37 (3), 259-272

2016

‘Sustainable Governance in a Post Secular Public Sphere: Re-assessing the Role of Religion as a Cosmopolitan Policy Actor in a Diverse and Globalized Age’. Sustainable Development, 24: 190-198.

2016

‘The Role of Embedded Individual Values, Belief and Attitudes and Spiritual Capital in Shaping Everyday Postsecular Organizational Culture’ , with Peter Stokes and Jessica Lichy, European Management Review , 13 (1): 37-51.

2014

‘Entangled Fidelities: Relational Christian Realism in the Public Sphere’, Political Theology

2013

‘Moral Freighting and Civic Engagement - a UK perspective on Putnam and Campbell's theory of religious-based social action', Sociology of Religion 17 (3): 343-369.

2013

‘Squaring the Exceptional and the Normative? A realist response to Kahn’s Political Theology’, Political Theology, 13 (6): 693-698.

2013

‘Roots and Shoots and the curious case of Schleiermacher’s Tree (aka ‘Is rhizomatic truth seceding arborescent reality?)’, International Journal for Practical Theology, 17 (2): 209-231.

2013

‘Current themes and Challenges in Urban Theology’ Expository Times 125 (1); 3 -12

2012

‘Introduction - Social Policy and Religion in Contemporary Britain – Taking Stock and Moving Forward’, Introduction with Rana Jawad, Social Policy and Society, 11 (4) : 547 – 551 (2012)

2012

‘Spiritual Capital and Economies of Grace – Refining the Relationship between Religion and the Welfare State’, Social Policy and Society, 11, (4): 565-576

2012

'The Rock on which we stand - the mission of the William Temple Foundation ', Crucible, July edition

2012

‘Speculative Philosophies and Religious Practices – New Directions in the Philosophy of Religion and Post-secular Practical Theology’ – Introduction to themed edition with John Reader and Daniel Whistler, Political Theology, 13 (2): 141 - 155

2011

‘Response to Montemaggi’s Dream of Spiritual Capital’, Implicit Religion,14, (1): 85-90 (co-authored with Jonathan Miles-Watson)

2010

‘Faith and Traditional capitals: defining the public scope of spiritual and religious capital - a literature review undertaken for the Leverhulme Trust', Implicit Religion, 13, (2): 17 - 69 (co-authored with Jonathan Miles-Watson)

2008

‘Exploring Secular Spiritual Capital; An Engagement in Religious and Secular Dialogue for a Common Future', International Journal of Public Theology, 2, (4): 442-464

 

Also book reviews in:

Crucible, Modern Believing, City, Political Theology, Journal of Practical Theology, Ecclesiology, Implicit Religion, Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (TESG), Journal of Contemporary Religion 

Article Reviewer for:

  • Community Development Journal

  • International Journal for Public Theology

  • Journal of Beliefs and Values 

  • Journal of Church and State 

  • Journal of Urban Affairs

  • Journal of Empirical Theology 

  • Scientific Study of Religion 

  • Social and Cultural Geography

  • Sociology of Religion

  • Tijdschrift Voor Economische En Sociale Geografie  Urban Studies

    Book Reviewer

  • Policy Press

  • Routledge 

  • State University of New York Press

     

    Research Programme Advisory Committees

  • ESRC Research on Negotiating Neuroliberalism (part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Transforming Social Science programme) (Jan 2014 – February 2015)

  • AHRC Research Faith and Place Network (2014 -15)

  •  AHRC Research on Megachurches and Social Engagement in London (December 2013 – December 2016)