Environmental Credentials Play Key Role In Choosing Venue for Academic Conference

Client: The British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR)

Type of event: Three-Day Residential Conference

Dates: Clare College

The British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR), the leading scholarly society in its field, holds an annual conference at a UK location. In 2023 Cambridge was chosen as the city to host the three-day event – with Clare College as the venue, which offered both the facilities required and the environmental credentials to meet the organisers’ objectives.

BASR is part of a larger international association and to attract a global audience, a hybrid format was chosen to enable international attendance in-person and online from across the globe, including Brazil, France, Germany, India, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, US and UK.

Dr Joseph Webster, Professor of the Anthropology of Religion at Cambridge University is on the Executive Committee for BASR and was asked to organise the conference in Cambridge. 


He says: “The BASR annual conference is a multi-disciplinary event for all those involved in Religious Studies, providing an annual space for members to share and discuss research and an important opportunity for established scholars and postgraduates early in their career to come together to network. This enables younger members to build their CVs by gaining valuable presenting experience in front of many of the leaders in our field, which can lead to further research and published work.

“After working with Meet Cambridge on venue-finding, which saved so much time as a central enquiry point, we decided on Clare College which not only could provide excellent facilities for our formal sessions but also demonstrated an exceptional set of environmental credentials to meet our objectives. An additional bonus was having residential accommodation on-site which was very helpful for the delegates attending in person. In all we had 110 people attending: 85 in-person and 25 remotely.


“Cambridge is an attractive location, and this event was run in partnership with The Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM) focusing on the theme of ‘environmental endings and religious futures’, with a particular focus on the climate crisis. As an educational charity, CenSAMM was keen to ensure its support funding facilitated membership for early career colleagues, with wider participation made possible through the hybrid element of the event.

“Clare College was an excellent choice. The conference team responded well to all the practicalities, throughout the planning stage and at the event itself. As part of our sustainability commitment, we decided to make it an entirely meat-free event with excellent vegan and vegetarian options delivered by the Clare catering team. 

Experiencing Cambridge

“As a social programme, we organised an evening in the city with a range of different informal events for delegates, as well as a Gala Dinner at Clare. At the end of the conference, there was also an optional tour of the Cambridge Central Mosque by one of the Executive Committee members.

“The hybrid element comprised four streams of parallel sessions enabling delegates to attend in-person or remotely. This also meant we could attract the best people in the field to participate, wherever they are located, including, for example, a keynote lecture by Professor Catherine Wessinger who is based in the US. The AV element was managed in-house by Clare College and the technology worked smoothly.

Event Legacy

“We would definitely return to Cambridge for another event depending on costs. This time our conference was made affordable thanks to a subsidy from the Faculty of Divinity and our partnership with CenSAMM which we hope will be a continuing one.

“Our Cambridge conference certainly met our objectives in terms of knowledge sharing and as a legacy, we anticipate a number of publications arising out of the event which in turn, will foster new research.”