Institute for Social Renewal

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King Legacy


In commemoration of Martin Luther King's receiving an honorary degree from Newcastle University in 1967, this theme explores issues of citizenship, social justice, inequality, poverty and war.

One aspect of this theme concerns people’s civil, social and political rights as citizens. We investigate how these are changed as the role and nature of the state changes. For example, we explore changing welfare regimes and in particular the implications of the last 30 years of neo-liberal hegemony and marketisation.

Another research area is people’s relationship with political institutions and how political processes reflect public opinions. It explores the governance arrangements that underpin decision making and the implications for our society. For example, how are changes made at a national level by politicians felt at the regional and national level? What opportunities are there for citizens to drive action? What forms does citizen led action take?

In particular, this theme addresses the three challenges that Dr King identified in his honorary degree ceremony in Newcastle University, 1967:

1. Poverty

2. Racism

3. War

Have a look at the tabs to see examples of activity under this theme.

Theme Champion: TBC

Martin Luther King Junior receiving his honorary degree from Newcastle University.

Peace work

Working with North East schools to explore peace and conciliation.

Nick Megoran, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, is working with schools in the North East to share his work on conciliation with students in schools. They explore topics such as international conflict as well as everyday coexistence and the value of anti-discrimination as a way to help us all enjoy being good citizens of our communities. 

To explore the work of the Martin Luther King Peace Committee, co-convened by Nick Megoran and Andii Bowsher (Northumbria University), visit the Peace Committee website

Claudia Jones Memorial Lecture- The legacy of Dr Martin Luther King,  5 October 2012

This event, led by David Baines (School of Arts and Cultures) remembered the presentation of an honorary degree by Newcastle University to Dr Martin Luther King in 1968. Speakers included historian Brian Ward, Chi Onwurah MP, Lionel Morrison, and Dr Gerald L. Durley. Gerald Durley’s powerful and inspirational speech recalled his days working alongside Dr. King as a student organizer, addressing the challenges of discrimination, poverty and war.


The Role of International Organisations and Human Rights Monitoring Bodies in Refugee Protection.

This workshop brought together a number of relevant experts in the enforcement of refugee protection by international organisations and International Human Rights Monitoring Bodies (IHRMBs).

In particular, it explored how these relevant actors may be filling the gap resulting from the lack of an international body with jurisdiction to receive individual applications under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

The participants reflected on such issues as ‘What are the main challenges for the effective enforcement of refugee protection?’ and ‘What issues are particularly problematic when addressing enforcement where there is no clearly shared understanding of what international law may require?’.

Papers were presented on the work of the UN Committee Against Torture, Protection under International Human Rights Law, Challenges in the implementation of the Common European Asylum System, Litigation before the Court of Justice of the European Union, and Protection before Regional Human Rights Monitoring Bodies (the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission & Court for the Protection of Human Rights).

The Workshop’s conclusions stressed the need for continued work in this area. Selected contributions to the Workshop have been published by the Refugee Survey Quarterly.


Young people’s experiences of discrimination, the ways in which they are, or are not, mistaken for being Muslim.

Professor Peter Hopkins (GPS) is currently working on a three year (2013-2016) AHRC funded project with colleagues from Edinburgh (Rowena Arshad) and St Andrews (Gurchathen Sanghera) and PDRA Kate Botterill, examining about the experiences of young people growing up in urban, suburban and rural Scotland (thus intersecting with the People, Place and Community theme).

Specifically, the project explores young people’s experiences of discrimination, the ways in which they are, or are not, mistaken for being Muslim (and so experience Islamophobia as a result), and their perceptions about everyday geopolitics (a term used to refer to the ways in which international, national, state and local political issues shape, and are shaped by, people’s everyday lives in different contexts).