The International Interfaith Centre was inaugurated in Oxford, UK on 6 December 1993, at the end of the 1993 Year of Inter-religious Understanding and Cooperation. The organisations and individuals backing it had been creators of the Year and many of its activities. As a result of the increasing amount and variety of interfaith activity around the world, it was perceived that a need could be met by an international, interfaith centre which was informed about all these different efforts and able to encourage continuing interfaith understanding and cooperation.
A Trust was established by the two oldest international interfaith organizations, the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) and the World Congress of Faiths (WCF), together with Westminster College Oxford (now part of Oxford Brookes University), which had a highly regarded Department of Theology and the Study of Religions. The work receives continual support from the trustees, patrons, volunteers and international advisors and consultants.
The IIC is developing a range of educational and academic resources for interfaith studies, ranging from school to postgraduate levels. These are being developed in association with the appropriate educational and university bodies. The IIC also facilitates the research and study of interfaith issues and provides relevant resources, both online and offline.
The IIC is currently cooperating with appropriate educational bodies to produce teaching materials on interfaith studies, to meet the requirements of Agreed Syllabuses for secondary school pupils in England and Wales.
The IIC is currently developing a new internet-based distance learning course, validated by a UK university, in interfaith studies. The course will be at Post Graduate Certificate level. It will comprise three areas:
the historical development of interfaith, including contemporary models of interfaith activity.
the implications of theological belief on attitudes to interfaith within the six major religions [Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism], and the theological/ philosophical reasons for these attitudes.
the application of religious belief and practice to both an area of professional employment [for example business, medicine or the law] and ethical issues.The course will be appropriate for people who have a general interest in interfaith or people who wish to study for a qualification as part of continuing professional development in their specialist field.
Between 2003 and 2005, the IIC conducted two surveys on people’s perception of, and attitudes towards interfaith dialogue. The second questionnaire, Attitudes Towards Interfaith , was developed in partnership with the Welsh National Centre for Religious Education at the University of Wales , Bangor . The aim of the survey, conducted at the Parliament of the World’s Religions (2004), was to develop further understanding of people’s attitudes towards the nature of religious truth, interfaith activity, and the relationship of personality to faith.
Many papers relating to the IIC have been deposited with the Parkes Library at Southampton University, UK.