What guidance can religious leaders offer in these times of political uncertainty and polarisation?
I think that religious leaders have an absolute duty to be crystal clear about human equality, about the porous nature of national boundaries, about the indivisible character of human interests and well-being. In other words, you can’t have a globe in which one bit of the human race profits indefinitely at the expense of another, or in which the suffering of one part of the human race is irrelevant to the well-being of another. I think that’s built into the DNA of every major religious tradition and that’s perhaps what religious leaders should be saying.
Have academics and religious leaders become more politicised recently?
I think they have always been political. If you look at the history of the university in the 17th century, the great political arguments get hammered out in universities as much as in court or in Parliament, so I don’t think that there’s anything new about academics or religious leaders having a political profile. I think that sometimes we nurture a bit of a fiction that, in the old days, clergy and dons just kept to themselves; they never did.
How has higher education changed in the past five to 10 years?
The public rhetoric around it has become much more oriented towards the idea of the student as a consumer, and a great deal of publicity has been predicated on that.