Strathclyde Academic's report featured in General Assembly debate
Charlie Irvine, course leader on the Law School’s Masters in Mediation and Conflict Resolution, was invited to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on 18 May 2015 for the presentation of his research into communication and decision-making. The report was commended to the Assembly by Donald Campbell, Chair of the Panel on Review and Reform, and led to proposals to review the Church’s voting system and arbitration processes.
The Panel commissioned the study into the impact of the Church’s current approach to decision-making against a backdrop of falling attendance and a number of high-profile departures by ministers, elders and members. The research (based on five community dialogues across Scotland) posed the question ‘What enables you to live with decisions you don’t agree with?’. The answers were rich and fascinating, revealing a deep affection for the institution sitting alongside significant concerns about existing structures, about who makes decisions and about fairness. Drawing on previous work on procedural justice the report highlighted the importance to individuals of having their voices heard in processes that are open, courteous and even-handed. It found that the Church has a significant ‘cushion of support’ from its members but that this sits alongside a greater wish for accountability and openness from leaders.
Donald Campbell described the report as an excellent piece of research providing the church with new insight into how it makes decisions.