The World Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU) has been established as a research and knowledge exchange unit within BGU that can bring together and support current activities, and create new initiatives, committed to research and development in world religions and education. We do not intend to replace or merge projects that are already established, but to create synergies and greater visibility for those projects and to add new work. There is a chance for BGU to have a globally-leading position on research in world religions and education. By ‘world religions’ in the unit’s title we mean those religious traditions of international significance, including – amongst many – Anglican, Roman Catholic, Nonconformist and Orthodox Christianity, Baháʼí, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jain, Judaism, Sikhism and Zoroastrian. As religious education, globally, often includes education on non-religious ways of life and ethical and values education, these are also included in our work.

The objects of WRERU are:

  • Research: to promote high quality, innovative, financially sustainable, research into religions, non-religious ways of life (including ethics and values), and education, whether in education systems or within and between them and religious and non-religious communities;
  • Dissemination: to promote openness and the dissemination of the results of such research, through publication (in academic and professional media as well as through open channels such as websites), meetings (such as seminars and conferences), and through contacts and exchange amongst and beyond members and friends of WRERU;
  • Impact: to influence the development of policy and practice in religious education and other interactions between world religions and education, both within and beyond educational and religious communities.

All three objects will contribute to the Education and the Theology and Religious Studies units of assessment for the Research Excellence Framework.

In order to progress WRERU’s objects, we will use a range of means including:

  • bringing visiting and honorary faculty into the BGU community;
  • contributing to the enhancement of BGU as a research-rich environment;
  • developing and attracting new research and development projects;
  • developing consultancy opportunities for BGU staff in these fields;
  • drawing together and supporting, and offering coordination possibilities for, those projects already active in BGU;
  • encouraging and supporting students and academic staff who are emerging as researchers in these fields, and who are experienced in these fields;
  • providing ways in which research and practice settings, related to the objects of WRERU, can influence each other, for example by providing opportunities for professional staff in educational and religious organisations to draw on and contribute to research in these fields;
  • raising the profile of BGU’s research environment both within and beyond the university;
  • responding to the educational and research requirements of religious communities;
  • supporting the postgraduate and research degree provision relating to WRERU’s objects.

WRERU was officially launched in November 2023. Videos and podcasts of the launch are now available on YouTube and on Spotify and other podcast providers (with more podcasts and videos to be published).

Members of WRERU include:

Dr Geoffrey Ahern, Visiting Fellow in Religious and Spiritual Experience

Professor Elisabeth Arweck, Honorary Professor in Contemporary Religion

Professor Michael Buchanan, Honorary Professor in Catholic Education

Professor Francis Davis, Visiting Professor in Social Institutions &International Studies

Rev Canon Dr Randolph Ellis, Honorary Fellow in Sacred Place

Canon Dr Neville Emslie, Honorary Fellow in Ministry Studies

Dr Hümeyra Guleryuz-Erken, Visiting Fellow in Islam and Education

Rev Canon Dr James Francis, Visiting Fellow in Theology and Discipleship

Rev Professor John Gay Visiting Professor in Higher Education

Professor John Harper, Visiting Professor in Sacred Music Studies

Rev Professor Sally Harper, Honorary Professor in Cathedral and Sacred Music Studies

Venerable Professor John Holdsworth, Honorary Professor in Theology and Ministry

Very Rev Professor Susan H Jones, Honorary Professor in Cathedral Studies

Rabbi Dr Eli Kohn, Honorary Reader in Judaism and Education

Professor David Lankshear, Visiting Professor in Church School Studies

Revd Dr Sarah Lawrence, Honorary Fellow in Practical Theology

Professor Patrick Laycock, Visiting Professor in Religions and Statistics

Rev Dr Sally Myers, Visiting Fellow in Ministry Studies

Revd Canon Professor Peter Neil, Emeritus Professor, Bishop Grosseteste University

Dr Kevin O’Grady, Visiting Senior Fellow in Religious Education

Professor Dr Mualla Selçuk, Visiting Professor in Islam and Education

Rev Dr Greg Smith, Honorary Fellow in Ministry Studies

Dr Francis Stewart, Director of the Edward Bailey Centre for the Study of Implicit Religion, Bishop Grosseteste University

Phra Dr Nicholas Thanissarro, Visiting Senior Fellow in Buddhism and Education

Rt Rev Professor David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, Honorary Professor in Anglican Studies

Dr Jacqui Wilkinson, Visiting Fellow in Anglican Education Studies

Professor Andy Wright, Visiting Professor in Religious and Theological Education

Dr Elina Wright, Visiting Senior Fellow in Religious Education

Professor Yaacov Yablon, Visiting Senior Fellow in Judaism and Education

Associate Professor Celeste Yuen, Visiting Reader in Intercultural Education

Catriona Card, researching disciplinary approaches to religious education in the early years

Devora Shabtai Greer, researching connections between psychological type and religious expressions among your female Orthodox Jews

Dr Huw Humphreys, researching how Church of England primary schools find ways to be prophetic and missional

Francis Loftus, researching the application of the SIFT approach to biblical hermeneutics for interpreting the Lucan parable of the rich man and Lazarus

Yehuda Pearlman, researching a curriculum for spirituality in Orthodox Jewish primary schools

Ian Poulton, researching young adolescents’ ordinary theology and its implications for schooling

Gill Simpson, researching an autoethnographic approach to religious education and learning in higher education

Adam Stevenson, researching what is distinctive about Methodist worship from conceptual and empirical perspectives

Alison Stowe, researching children’s responses to primary collective worship

Revd Professor Jeff Astley, Professor of Religious and Spiritual Experience

Dr Ann Casson, Liverpool Cathedral Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Dr Jack Cunningham, Associate Professor of Ecclesiastical History

Emma Eccles, Research Associate in Religions and Education

Revd Canon Professor Leslie J Francis, Professor of Religions, Psychology and Education

Revd Dr Peter Green, Dean of Chapel

Dr Ursula McKenna, Senior Research Fellow in Implicit Religion

Mark Plater, Senior Lecturer, Religion and Education

Revd Dr Tania ap Siôn, Reader of Religions, Humanities and Education

Professor Julian Stern, Professor of Education and Religion

World Religions and Education Research Unit Lead: Professor Julian Stern