Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Archived Biographical Note: Henry Tam (2013)

[This is an archived biographical note of Henry Tam; for the most up to date information, go to the Home Page]

Henry Benedict Tam is a political writer, novelist, and advocate for the development of inclusive communities. He is the Director of the Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy, University of Cambridge, and Visiting Professor at Birkbeck College, University of London. His best known works include Communitarianism: a new agenda for politics and citizenship (1998), which was nominated by New York University Press for the 2000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order; and Against Power Inequalities (2010), described by Professor Charles Derber as “an intellectual tour de force, an erudite romp through the history of civilization that highlights the origins of power and the never-ending effort to democratize hierarchical systems through mobilized participatory communities.” His novel, Kuan's Wonderland (2012), "an unmissable page-turner" (President, the Independent Publishers Guild), is available from amazon.

He is also a patron of AOPM, the association of youth justice volunteers. He was appointed the UK Government’s Head of Civil Renewal in 2003 and led on national policies for community empowerment up to 2010. The ‘Together We Can’ programme he developed was showcased at the 2008 international meeting of the Global Network of Government Innovators (Harvard University). His pioneering project for citizen engagement, ‘Working with Communities’ (1995-1999) won a Best Practice Award from the Prime Minister in 1999. During 2010-2011 he was the UK’s Head of Race Equality.


Henry Tam’s essays on politics and society regularly appear on Question the Powerful. His published books and articles include:

• 'Cooperative Problem-Solving & Education', Forum journal (forthcoming, 2013)
• 'Communitarianism', in the Encyclopedia of Action Research (Sage Publications, forthcoming, 2013).
. 'Cooperative Problem-Solving: what it means in theory and practice', FYPD, University of Cambridge (download article here).
Kuan's Wonderland (a novel), available on and from 2012.
. ‘Citizen Engagement and the Quest for Solidarity’, in After the Third Way: The Future of Social Democracy in Europe, ed. by Olaf Cramme and Patrick Diamond (London, I.B. Tauris, 2012).
• ‘Rejuvenating Democracy: lessons from a communitarian experiment’, Forum, Volume 53, Number 3, 2011.
Komunitaryzm, Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikolaja Kopernika, Torun 2011 (Polish translation of Communitarianism, by J Grygienc & A Szahaj).
• ‘Through Thick & Thin: what does it really take for us to live together’, in Ethnicities, ed. by Dina Kiwan, Volume 11 Issue 3 September 2011.
• ‘The Big Con: reframing the state-society debate’, PPR Journal, March-May 2011, Volume 18, Issue 1.
Against Power Inequalities: reflections on the struggle for inclusive communities, Birkbeck, London University, 2010. Book available as a free download from the Equality Trust.
• ‘The Importance of Being a Citizen’, in Active Learning for Active Citizenship, ed. by John Annette & Marjorie Mayo, (NIACE, 2010)
• ‘Civil Renewal: the agenda for empowering citizens’, in Re-energizing Citizenship: Strategies for Civil Renewal, ed. by Gerry Stoker, Tessa Brannan, and Peter John, (Macmillan Palgrave, 2007).
• ‘The Case for Progressive Solidarity’, in Identity, Ethnic Diversity & Community Cohesion, ed. by M. Wetherell, M. Lafleche & R. Berkeley, (London: Sage, 2007)
Progressive Politics in the Global Age (ed.) (Cambridge: Polity, 2001).
• ‘The Community Roots of Citizenship’, in Citizens: Towards a Citizenship Culture, ed. by B. Crick (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001)
Communitarianism: A New Agenda for Politics & Citizenship (Macmillan, 1998)
Punishment, Excuses & Moral Development (ed.) (Aldershot: Avebury Press, 1996)
• 'Education and the Communitarian Movement', Journal for Pastoral Care in Education, September 1996.
• 'Crime & Responsibility' in B. Almond (ed.) Introducing Applied Ethics (Blackwell's 1995)
• 'Communitarianism & the Co-operative Movement', The Co-op Commonweal, Issue 2 1995.
Marketing, Competition & the Public Sector (ed.) (Harlow: Longman, 1994)
Serving the Public: Customer Management in Local Government (Harlow: Longman 1993).
• 'How Should We Live?' The Philosopher, October 1993.
• Responsibility & Personal Interactions: A Philosophical Study of the Criteria for Responsibility Ascriptions (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990).
• 'What is Philosophy?' series of articles in the South China Morning Post, 1983.
• ‘The Fox’, a short story (The South China Morning Post, 4th September 1982).
• 'Whose life is it anyway?', Axis (Oxford: OUSU, 1980).

Policy Development

Henry Benedict Tam has since 2011 been the Director of Cambridge University’s Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy, established to draw together policy makers, young people, practitioners and researchers from Cambridge University and around the world to explore the challenges facing young citizens today, and develop collaborative research and new policy thinking in response to these problems. In 2012 he established a national network to promote learning in the value and application of 'Cooperative Problem-Solving'.

From 2003 to 2010 he was the Head of the UK Government’s Civil Renewal Unit (which he set up in the Home Office and continued to direct its work after it moved in 2006 to the newly established Department for Communities & Local Government). During this time, he worked with successive Secretaries of State and Ministers, partners from community organisations, and colleagues in central and local government to introduce a wide range of new policies and practices to empower citizens to have greater influence over decisions concerning their common good:

• ‘Active Citizens, Strong Communities – progressing civil renewal’, an outline of the core objectives and policies.
• ‘Together We Can’, the cross-government action plan with commitments in all key public policy areas.
• ‘Together We Can’ 2005/2006 review, with reports from the Secretaries of State and Ministers on progress in 12 Government Departments.
• Developed Active Learning for Active Citizenship, and ‘Take Part’.
• Introduced Guide Neighbourhoods.
• Developed Civic Pioneers., and
• Set up and implemented the Quirk Review (on community management and ownership of assets).
• Set up the Asset Transfer Unit.
• Promoted Participatory Budgeting.
• Set up the Councillors Commission and developed the Government’s implementation plan (including the Duty to Promote Democracy).

Other key positions he held include: the UK Government’s Head of Race Equality (2010-2011); Home Office’s Head of Correctional Services Standards Unit (2002-2003); Government Office (East of England)’s Director for Community Safety & Regeneration (2000-2002); Deputy Chief Executive, St Edmundsbury Borough Council (1992-2000), where his work on ‘Working with Communities’ won a Best Practice Award from the Prime Minister in 1999; and Head of Marketing & Economic Development at Braintree District Council (1989-1992).

Other Civic Activities

Over the years he has been invited to share his ideas on reciprocity, democracy, and the development of inclusive communities at events convened by many different organisations such as Workers Educational Association; Church Action on Poverty; Urban Forum; the BBC; National School of Government; Metropolitan Police Authority; South Place Ethical Society; and Community Service Volunteers.

He has also been a guest speaker at the Institute of Sociology (Warsaw, Poland); the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation (Harvard, USA) ( from 33.40 on); the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (12th annual conference); the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies (Washington, USA); the Society for Applied Philosophy; the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation (Ireland); the London Business School; the Oxford Centre for Advanced Study of the Social Sciences; and other research institutions.

He is a long-standing supporter of Amnesty International and Oxfam, a patron of AOPM (the association for youth justice volunteers), and a member of the United Nations Association (UK), and the British Humanist Association. He was co-founder and trustee of Philosophy in Britain (1989-1996), and Chair of the Communitarian Forum, UK (1995-2000).

Academic and Professional Recognition

• Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge (appointed 2011).
• Visiting Professor, Social Policy & Education, Birkbeck College, University of London (appointed 2008).
• Fellow, Globus Institute for Globalization and Sustainable Development, University of Tilburg, the Netherlands (appointed 2000).
• Fellow, Chartered Institute of Marketing (1993-2011)
• Research Fellow, Centre for Citizenship Development, Anglia Polytechnic University (1992-1995).
• Diploma in Public Relations & Marketing, CAM (Communication, Advertising & Marketing) Foundation (1988).
• Ph.D in Philosophy, (Swire Scholar) the University of Hong Kong (1981-1984).
• BA/MA in Philosophy, Politics & Economics, (Neale Scholar) the Queen’s College, University of Oxford (1978-1981).