Leading Academic briefs EDU Secretary-General on Social Cohesion

Social Cohesion: “the willingness of members of a society to cooperate with each other in order to survive and prosper.”

There are few names bigger in the study of Social Cohesion than Professor Mike Hardy CMG OBE of Coventry University, whose work has been recognized by awards from none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Mike was was awarded the OBE in 2001 for his work in the Middle East, and was appointed a Companion of Honour of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the Queen's Birthday Honours June 2010 for his work internationally in Intercultural Dialogue.

His Excellency Irving-LeVance, the Secretary-General of the Intergovernmental Organization EDU, is a firm believer that Social Cohesion is an essential aspect that must be addressed in order for education to be effective and that effective education is an essential aspect to promote Social Cohesion.  Professor Mike Hardy is uniquely suited to appreciate the synergy between Diplomacy, Sustainable Development, Education and Social Cohesion.

Mike was the Executive Director of the Institute of Community Cohesion which began its life as a joint venture between three universities and a local authority.

It operated within a significant area of work, focused as it was on the practical and policy consequences of contemporary and multi-cultural communities, and a history of engagement with this issue in English cities for almost a decade. It became a part of Coventry University’s Business, Environment and Society Faculty in 2009.

iCoCo had been a campaigning resource to set agendas for local government policy approaches to help diverse and changing communities to live more harmoniously with the differences that characterise their demographics. Its mission was as a not-for-profit yet self-funding applied policy research centre that met needs (for technical assistance and training) defined by commercial contract opportunities. Over the past period, iCoCo created and nurtured revenue opportunities, and delivered reports and consultancies to a significant number of clients. It became a one-stop shop in England for work and interest in community cohesion.


The Institute of Community Cohesion became the Centre for Social Relations, which is an interdisciplinary applied research center exploring the multiple drivers for the most pressing problems for pluralist diverse societies today through the multiple lenses of ethnicity, belief, socio-economic factors, inter-generational or cross-community relations. The Centre’s work takes a local, regional, national and global approach to these issues with a special interest in young people. The research team includes experts in participation and employment, skills development, participatory public engagement, community relations and tension monitoring, inter-cultural dialogue, sectarian conflict, and interfaith relations.

Mike himself is an established leader in intercultural dialogue with a wealth of international experience including a specific interest in diversity and cultural exchange.

He began his career as an applied economist and was Head of Economics and Public Policy at Leeds Metropolitan before moving to a Chair in International Business at the University of Central Lancashire. In 1995, following work with FCO, British Council and European Commission in the transition states of East Europe, Mike moved full time to British Council to continue international work in private sector development.




His interests in cultural relations developed and following postings in the Arab world and Asia, he was appointed to frame and lead British Council's global program in intercultural dialogue. Through his program British Council grew its work in interculturalism, working with difference and with inter-community relations.  His portfolio included British Council's international work with schools and skills, networks of young global citizens and capacity development within civil societies worldwide and supporting partnerships which help conflict and post-conflict contexts and people and communities in fragile states.

Mike's work and experience in international cultural relations is supported by practical international and in-country experience of issues of diversity, cohesion and multiculturalism in the broader Middle East and as BC Country Director in Indonesia at a time of major national turmoil. As a senior leader at British Council he managed the corporate relationship with the World Bank Institute, the UK Department for International Development, and United Nations Alliance of Civilisations. He is a member of the UK National Cohesion Forum.

Mike was chosen as lead expert for 'Identity' for the Vodafone-sponsored new Future-Agenda Initiative. He was invited, and attended as a constituent, the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011, Davos-Klosters; he continues to contribute to conferences, global discussions and applied research in Intercultural Dialogue, multiculturalism and diversity.

The Secretary-General thanked Professor Mike Hardy for the excellence of his briefing and wished him continued success as a world leader in his area of expertise.


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