Our Roots


The roots of Relational Thinking go back to the 1980s, with a peacebuilding initiative in South Africa that may have saved a million lives.

Since then people and organizations around the world have recognized the importance of building healthy and sustainable relationships in bringing about real social change and justice.

Today, the organizations that are part of our network help businesses and public services flourish by creating strong stakeholder relationships. They also actively work with policy makers and academics worldwide to highlight the benefits of good relationships and the pressing need for reform in the way we handle the economy, society and environment.


2016: Relational Academics Network

The Relational Academics Network has met informally for several years.  In 2015, it launched its first public symposium, which was on “Relational Research in the Social Sciences: concepts and methodologies”.  The theme of the International Symposium in 2016 is “Critical Perspectives on Substantive and Methodological Individualisms”.


2015: Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives (RPI)

Using the same Track 2 methodology as the earlier Newick Park Initiative, RPI has begun to network internationally with a view to establishing peacebuilding processes in Ukraine (engaging business, ecclesiastical and political leadership), Korea, Israel-Palestine (where a preliminary study was completed in 2001) and Kashmir.


2015: Relational Analytics

This for-profit company, majority-owned by Relational Research, extends the availability of relational metrics and relationship improvement methods across large private, public and non-profit sector organizations in Europe, North America, South Africa and the Far East. Its licensees include KPMG and Renuma.


2014: Relational Schools

This new social enterprise takes Relational Thinking into education. It has already conducted research in several schools, including surveys of over 2,000 in-school relationships. The results show the enormous potential to improve these relationships through a range of targeted interventions. Relational Schools released a 40-minute documentary in 2015 called The Relational Teacher.


2014: The Relational Thinking Network

An international network was first established in December 2011 when representatives of seven nations came together to form a global movement. After three annual conferences (in Hong Kong, South Africa and Cambridge), the movement changed its name to the Relational Thinking Network and registered as a Swiss Association in Geneva on October 2, 2014.


2009: Relational Research

Continuing the research and project-incubation focus of its predecessor, Relationships Global, Relational Research owns the IP rights to the metrics based on Relational Thinking and is currently engaged in producing a Relational Economic Plan for Europe, a consistent framework for policy addressing a range of current issues, including levels of national debt, budget deficits, the future of the Euro, immigration, and declining relational capital.


1997–2014: Project development

Around the turn of the millennium, the Relationships Foundation launched several initiatives, in the UK and globally, with the aim of implementing Relational Thinking in a range of sectors, from business to policy development, health care, justice and education. New initiatives included Concordis (2004) and the Marriage Foundation (2012).


1996: Allia

First launched as City Life in Sheffield, UK, this initiative provided a mechanism for citizens to address local unemployment by lending money interest-free for 5 years. The resulting fund was used to assist local people with new business ideas. Similar initiatives followed in East London and Newcastle, and later led to the launch of retail charity bonds on the London Stock Exchange. Allia has recently established two Future Business Centres.


1993: The R Factor

The book, written by Michael Schluter and David John Lee, was hailed by the Economist as “an idea which is here to stay.” The authors argued that Western society was steadily undermining the relationships which are the foundations of democracy and the market economy. Shortly after, the thinktank Relationships Foundation UK was established. The Cambridge Papers, looking at public issues from a Christian perspective, had started in 1992.


1988: Credit Action

Recently renamed The Money Charity, Credit Action was a response to the 1980s deregulation of the financial markets and the increase of debt among households. The initiative focused on educating children in schools about money. Within one year the programme was rolled out into two-thirds of the schools in the UK, financed by the banks. It continues to educate young people about sound financial management.


1987: The Newick Park Initiative (NPI)

NPI contributed at a critical moment in 1994 to the peaceful ending of apartheid. It operated by creating an overarching framework above and beyond any party political objective, allowing representatives of the ANC and white establishment to think through long-term solutions in an informed, open-ended and principled way. Similar and successful peacebuilding processes took place in Rwanda (1994-99) and Sudan (1999-2005).


1986: Keep Sunday Special

Sunday Trading was historically the first issue over which a UK government bill was ever voted out on second reading. The interest group behind this was Keep Sunday Special – a coalition, led by Dr. Michael Schluter and the Jubilee Centre, which represented an effort to prevent extended shopping hours eroding relationships in families.


What’s wrong with tolerance?

The purpose of religious tolerance has always been, and remains, to maintain the power and purity of the dominant religion in a given state. Most dominant religions in most states today profess tolerance, but they also seem to feel especially

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Values in a divided Korea

Chairman of Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives Michael Schluter recently visited a centre where traditional Korean values of filial piety are taught to elementary school children. Michael is currently undertaking a peace initiative in the Korean peninsula through Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives (RPI),

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What does sovereign debt actually consist of?

S. M. Ali Abbas, Laura Blattner, Mark De Broeck, Asmaa El-Ganainy, Malin Hu There has been renewed interest in sovereign debt since the Global Crisis, but relatively little attention has been paid to its composition. Sovereign debt can differ in

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Connected but disconnected

Millennials are the most connected generation to have ever lived but a significant proportion of them are plagued by loneliness, an expert has warned. The charity Relate said that under-25s are “increasingly likely” to experience loneliness. But they are by

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The culture of contempt

Robert Hall, May 31, 2018  Somehow the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan at St. George’s Chapel – testimony to the power of love and inclusion – seemed positively surreal. The latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas – testimony to

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