CREST Executive Director

Matthew heads up CREST's executive agendas, encompassing its rapid research commissioning process, communication programme, networking programme and capacity building activities.

With responsibility for delivering strategic leadership to these activities, Matthew liaises with CREST's key academic and governmental stakeholders, looking to drive forward CREST’s research, engagement and capacity building agendas in ways that maximise research excellence and impact, and help ensure CREST delivers on its national capability for all users.

Matthew was previously CREST's Communications Director, and he founded and edited CREST Security Review and along with the communications team produced CREST outputs such as this website, the CREST guides and other resources.

Previously, as a Research Fellow at Lancaster University, his work focused on the move to violence in religious and non-religious groups. In particular he researched the significance of shared non-negotiable (or sacred) beliefs through coding the public utterances of members and leaders of groups. He focused on groups including Aum Shinrikyo, al Qaeda, the Red Army Faction, Agonshu, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and Hizb ut-Tahrir.

He has previously researched minority faith groups as well as religious literacy. He founded and is Editor of the website RadicalisationResearch.org, which brings high-quality academic research on radicalisation and extremism to the attention of people working in policy and media settings.

Personal webpage

Project information

Matthew is part of the Ideas, Beliefs And Values In Social Context programme. Read more about this project here.

Recent publications

Dinham, A., Francis, M. and Shaw, M. (2017). Towards a Theory and Practice of Religious Literacy: A Case Study of Religion and Belief Engagement in a UK University. Religions 8 (12).
Francis, M., van Eck Duymaer van Twist, A. (2015). Religious literacy, radicalisation and extremism. In A. Dinham & M. Francis (Eds.) Religious literacy in policy and practice. Bristol: Policy Press p. 257-270.
Francis, M. (2015) Why the “sacred” is a better resource than “religion” for understanding terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence. (Early online publication). DOI:10.1080/09546553.2014.976625.
Dinham, A., Francis, M. (2015). Religious literacy in policy and practice.Bristol: Policy Press.
Francis, M., Knott, K., “Return? It never left.”: exploring the "sacred" as a resource for bridging the gap between the religious and the secular. In Kutz, C., Riss, H., Roy, O. 2015 Religious norms in the public sphere. Florence, Italy: European University Institute.
Knott, K., McFadyen, A., McLoughlin, S., Francis, M. (2006). The Roots, Practices and Consequences of Terrorism: A Literature Review of Research in the Arts & Humanities, Final Report (for the Home Office). University of Leeds.

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