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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Diverse or divided? A one-day conference on social relations, cohesion and change

This one-day conference will bring together leading policy-makers, politicians and thinkers from Canada and Britain at Canada House in London to debate some of the major political and policy dilemmas for diverse societies.

Over the past few decades, Britain and Canada have experienced unprecedented demographic change. Canada is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the developed world, while the UK is on course to reach similar levels of diversity in the coming decades.

With the UK government now initiating a review into integration policy and committing to resettle 20,000 more Syrian refugees over the next five years, this conference explored how these shifts are shaping our society – from their impact on communities to their role in the broader political landscape. Does celebrating difference risk fostering segregation? Has society become too tolerant of intolerance? And should the state play a greater role in promoting more interaction between communities?

Speakers included: Richard Sennett (Professor of Sociology), Monte Solberg (former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada), Bill Frey (author of ‘Diversity Explosion’), Ratna Omidvar (Global Diversity Exchange), Mary Riddell (Telegraph), Stephen Bush (New Statesman), Julian Baggini (philosopher), Tim Stanley (Telegraph) and DJ Nihal (BBC Asian Network).

The conference was co-hosted by IPPR, the Canadian High Commission and the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) at Coventry University, and supported by the Canada-UK Foundation. It provided an opportunity to share insights from two new new studies by CTPSR and IPPR on the UK’s ‘diverse diversities’ and the implications for policymakers in areas undergoing rapid demographic change.

  • Read IPPR and CTPSR's new report, Trajectory and transience: Understanding and addressing the pressures of migration on communities.