Professor Francis Davis BA MSc MPA PhD FRGS

Professor Francis Davis

Department of Theology and Religion
Professor of Public Policy and Communities
Director of Policy, Edward Cadbury Centre

Contact details

I am a social and political scientist who works at the intersection of business, civil society, and central and local governments. I am especially keen to hear from others interested in globalising cities driving local growth and inclusion or active internationally, island/landlocked economies; cities, regions and organisations facing complex community challenges.

My recent projects focus on public service reform, complex community challenges and inclusive private sector investment; and have included collaborations with the local government ministries and business and civil society sectors of Rwanda, Pakistan, Israel/Palestine, South Africa and the UK. I have also been involved in professional training or led initiatives for the UK Foreign Ministry (FCDO), the UK local government ministry, two UK City Mayors; and in supporting global NGO and business ESG engagement and staff development strategies.

I have had spells as a UK ministerial advisor – including at cabinet level - under three governments, an NHS Trust non - executive director (chair of finance) and have recently given invited lectures at the Universities of Paris, Oxford, Antwerp, Leuven, and Dublin and leadership gatherings in Karachi, Islamabad, Kigali and Fordham University, New York City.

Before academia I led an award winning mid-sized private company and was a co-founder and chair of a UK Social Enterprise of the Year from start-up to one thousand employees; and continue to be involved in supporting start-ups and social start-ups.


  • Ba Social Policy and Arts  (Durham)
  • PG Cert NGO Management (Southampton)
  • MPA public leadership (Warwick Business School)
  • PhD public leadership and policy (Warwick)


Professor Davis previously taught social sciences at Oxford (where he held a Fellowship), at Cambridge and at a number of business schools, where his mid-career students included mayoral candidates in major Southeast Asian cities, advisors to Presidential candidates in the Global South, leaders in the refugee and UN sectors and those now in the leadership of tech and other private sector firms as well as of major religious  and diaspora communities. He has advised at the UK cabinet level.

His research has been debated by parliament and has been described as ‘formidable’ and ‘ground breaking’ by the Conservative and Labour frontbenches and ‘fascinating and important’ and ‘remarkable’ by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Heavily involved in entrepreneurial, cross neighbourhood inter-religious and mainstream collaborations around poverty reduction and enterprise, he co- chaired the Mayor of West Midlands Faith and Cohesion steering group and regional summit.

A successful social entrepreneur and journalist on social innovation he has invented, founded or co-founded over forty social ventures addressing pressing social challenges attracting millions in investment and revenues, creating hundreds of jobs and supporting thousands of clients.

His media contributions include work for BBC World, BBC 1 TV, BBC Radio 4 The World Tonight, Straits Times, US Public Radio, Al Jazeera, TRT,  and The Economist.

A Zambian by birth with long standing interests in Southern Africa, he has served on commissions and projects of the Erste Bank Foundation, Mercy Corps International, Caritas International, the Buncher Inter-Faith Conference and focused on disability and mental health inclusion.

Postgraduate supervision

Find out more - our PhD Theology and Religion  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.



  • F. Davis et al (2008) Moral, But No Compass – Church, Government And Welfare Reform (Matthew James Publishing) (featured on the front page in The Times, with leaders in every broadsheet)
  • F. Davis and K. Chappell (2011) The Catholic Social Conscience (Gracewing) with a foreword from Rt Rev Declan Lang

Special editions of journals

Policy Studies and Civil Society:

  • F. Davis and A. Bradstock (2010) Beyond Bureaucracy – The New Localism (special edition of Crucible – The Journal For Social Responsibility) (SCM Press)
  • F. Davis (guest editor) (2009) Special Edition: Religion, Third Sector and Public Management, Public Money And Management (Vol 26, Nov)  (Routledge)

Inter-Disciplinary: Leadership in Religious Institutions

  • F. Davis (ed) (2011) Renewing The Catholic Social Conscience – with contributions from Professors Mary Jo Bane (Harvard), Chris McCruddeon (Oxford), Johan Verstraaten (Leiven), Julie McClague (Glasgow) a special edition of The International Journal of Public Theology (Brill, Leiden)
  • F. Davis and A. Bradstock (ed 2009) Special Edition: Faith, Welfare And Well-Being: New Directions International Journal of Public Theology (Brill,Leiden)


  • F. Davis (2021) Bringing Africa, Asia and Institutions Back In: ‘Fraternity’ and the Religious  Sector after Assisi 2020. in H. Geybels (ed)  Post Corona Economics: Can We Learn From the Religious Sector? (VUB/ASP), Brussels
  • F. Davis (2021) Liberation after Covid 19 – (re)building hope for older and disabled people beyond the global hegemonies of ‘unity’, ‘youth’ and ‘growth  in  C. J. Kaunda (ed) World Christianity and COVID-19: Discourses and Perspective (Routledge) 
  • F. Davis (2019) 'Between Today and Yesterday: Evidence, Complexity And the "Body of Christ"’  in S. Walton (ed) Poverty in the early Church and Today (T and T Clark).
  • F. Davis (2019) 'God and Government: lessons from the UK Debate' in H. Geybels (ed) Church and State (Peeters/Leuven).
  • F. Davis (2011) 'The English Bishops, Caritas and Civic Prophecy After the 2010 Papal Visit', in K. Chappell and F. Davis (eds) (2011) The Catholic Social Conscience (Gracewing).
  • F. Davis (2011) Catholicism and The Welfare Society in K. Chappell and F. Davis (eds) (2011) The Catholic Social Conscience (Gracewing).
  • F. Davis (2011) 'Religion and Faith Communities' in Defence of Welfare: the Impacts of the Spending Review, ed N. Yeates et al (Social Policy Association).
  • F. Davis (2011) 'Social Innovation and Inter-Religious Action', in D. Singleton (ed) Faith With Its Sleeves Rolled Up (Faith Action, London).
  • F. Davis (2010) 'Social Innovation And Habits of the Heart', in P. Booth (ed) Christian Perspectives on the Financial Crash  (St Paul’s)
  • F. Davis (2001)  'A Political Economy of the Catholic Church' in K.Wilson and N.Timms (ed) Authority and Governance in the Catholic Church (SPCK)

Journal articles

  • F. Davis (2009) ‘Faith Based Advocacy and European Social Inclusion Process’, in Public Money And Management 29, 6.
  • F. Davis (2009) ‘Ideas, Institutions and Poverty Reduction’ in International Journal of Public Theology 3, 1.
  • F. Davis (2009) ‘Demise of Radicalism Or Re-Invention Of Governance? : Faith And The Welfare State’ in Crucible – Journal of Social Responsibility.


  • J. Stankeviciute, J . Rossiter, F. Davis (2008) National Mapping of Advocacy work alongside asylum seekers, refugees and migrantsof the catholic Church (funded by CAFOD and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales).
  • F. Davis et al (2007, 2008, 2008) European Public Value and the Social Inclusion Process – Three interrelated 22 country studies tracking the anti-poverty advocacy of national voluntary sector social welfare agencies across the EU 2006-08.  Funded by EC. Progress Programme (published in French 2007,08,09 and widely cited)
  • F. Davis; D. Ebbutt and R. Kaggwa (2007) The Ground of Justice – An Exploratory Study Into The Living And Working Conditions of One Thousand New London Arrivals (Funded by a consortium of London charities and Dioceses;  made front page in The Times).
  • F. Davis  (2014) Jobs and Innovation: Making the South East A Social Enterprise Capital (South East Local Economic Partnership/Kent County Council).


  • L. Booth-Smith and F Davis (2017) A Disability Sector Deal Localis (London) (launched by Minister for Disability
  • F. Davis (2016) Social Care in the South Southern Policy Centre/BBC
  • F. Davis (2013)  Towards an Ethic Of Mutuality in Making It Mutual: the Ownership Revolution That Britain Needs ed R Willis and P Blond Res Publica London (co-published on cabinet Office website)
  • F. Davis (2010) The Big Society - A View From The South. SCA Institute (fully covered by Sunday Telegraph)
  • F. Davis and N. Koblintz (2009) : Mutual Futures – Ed Balls, Michael Gove and the Challenge to Religious Education – Las Casas Insights Series  (fully covered by the Times)
  • F. Davis. (2009) How to Do It? : Launching a Health Based Social Enterprise. SCA Social Enterprise Institute/NHS
  • G. Mulgan, R. Ali, F. Davis et al (2006) Social Silicon Valleys. British Council/Young Foundation (Radio 4 Guardian).
  • F.Davis (2005) Faith In Social Enterprise. Triodos Bank/Christian Socialist Movement.


  • Government – business – community relations especially civic innovation and cohesion
  • Race, faith, community empowerment
  • Contemporary religion and society especially government – religion relations
  • Social entrepreneurship and faith
  • Religious freedom
  • The political economy of religions
  • The politics, policy advocacy and anti-poverty action of Christian Churches and especially international Roman Catholic institutions.


Contemporary religion and society; social entrepreneurship and faith; faith-based organisations as policy and political actors (and their social engagement) and the policy and politics of race, cohesion and political violence/’radicalisation’.

Professor Davis served as a policy advisor on faith and communities at Cabinet level to the last Labour government and as an advisor at Ministerial and Number 10 level on Cities, voluntary action and decentralisation under the Coalition. He speaks and advises widely on policy-related issues in the areas of religion, social action and social engagement.