Transforming Education: Spirit, Science and Imagination

Our research theme encompasses a range of interests including religion, spirituality, the symbolic imagination, questions of value, wisdom and the good.

There has never been a more exciting time to be researching religion, science and spirituality in education and society. Our theme group focusses on exploring transformative education, which is about learning what it is to be a human in a diverse world. 

Examples of topics covered by our theme group include:

  • character education
  • alternative and new spiritualties
  • institutional, social and religious values
  • faith and spritual education
  • epistemic insight and cross-disciplinary approaches to learning
  • myth, imagination and the sacred
  • the pursuit of wisdom

The Faculty has a range of expertise in these fields, with current areas of research including Islam and education, human rights education, secularism, esoteric thought and consciousness studies, contemporary mind/body/spirit practices, imagination and the sacred, values and faith in education policy and Christian education.

We have ongoing funded research projects on religious education and values. We also work on epistemic insight and faith in schools. Our research involves schools, higher education and parents together with work related to consciousness, imagination and creativity in religious experience.

Our methods vary drawing on sociology, social scientific methods in education, philosophy, hermeneutics, ethics and theology. We  encompass the National Institute of Christian Education Research (NICER), Learning about Science and Religion (LASAR), and Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred.

Part of our mission is to disseminate and discuss relevant research, nurture student and staff engagement, support the production of bids and provide encouragement for academic writing.

Theme Leaders

Participants of the group come from a wide range of backgrounds, religious, spiritual, ethical, political, atheistic, theistic, agnostic, and more. We have recently renamed our group to capture two spans of work. By post secular we refer to the radical plurality of worldviews, ideological positions and discourses around religion and secularization. The new reference to the sacred captures some of the fields explored in our new MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred. We retain our link with the National Institute of Christian Education Research and also the Education and religion Ed.D. cohorts. We often do work with colleagues in other parts of the university and have a number of colleagues who drop in, with a methodological or connecting interest.

Dr Lynn Revell is currently supervising doctoral students in spirituality and nursing education, Christian ethos and no-blame cultures in primary schools, the concept of the good and the purpose of higher education. She is writing a study on Islamophobia and initial teacher education, and working with NICER on the What if Learning project.

Dr Bob Bowie. Available for doctoral supervision in areas of faith and education, human rights and education, ethics and education and RE teaching. He is supervising a doctoral student in controversial issues and faith in secondary education. His current research is a policy analysis of values in UK education policy and analyses of Particular schools for the common good.

Professor Trevor Cooling. Trevor currently specializes in Christian Education, particularly church schools in England, but has wide ranging interests in religion and education generally. His area of specialism is in educational responses to religious diversity and his most recent writing on this is an exchange with Professor Michael Hand on handling religiously controversial issues in education in the Journal of Beliefs and Values.

Dr Angela Voss is a Director of the MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred. Her research centres on the interface between imagination and spirituality, the Western esoteric traditions, contemporary paranormal experience and transformative learning. She is currently supervising doctoral students in the areas of mediumship, Jacob Boehme’s theosophy and Freemasonry and the Seven Liberal Arts. Current projects include a study of magical symbolism in 16th century music.

See her profile at

Dr. Geoffrey Cornelius is a lecturer on the MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred. He has a continuing research commitment to bridging the gap between intellectual discourse and spiritual and psychical phenomena that are ubiquitous in the community. A foundation for both his practice and study is symbolic interpretation and divination, including the spectrum of astrology, traditional, esoteric, popular and New Age. His current research focus is in the hermeneutics of omen-reading and inductive divination.

See his profile at

Other members profile summaries to appear soon.

Over the last few years our group has seen a number of quite distinct areas of work, from projects around Christian education, publications in Islamaphobia, articles on post secular education, Fundamental British values and human rights education. We have ongoing funded action research projects on religious education and work on higher education and faith. Our methods vary drawing on sociology, social scientific methods in education, philosophy, ethics and theology. We regular present papers nationally and internationally and have experience with funded work, book and article publications, and know well the scholarly and academic networks in our fields. We co-ordinate the BERA SIG in Religious and moral education.

Exploring the secular in educationThis project elites how current Initial Teacher Trainees understand the secular and the way in which they understand the interplay between the religious and secular in education. Staff involved: Lynn Revell, Jason Mellor & Aidan Gillespie

How teachers understand and express their spirituality in their teaching practiceUsing interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore how teachers understand the spiritual and what effect this has on how they conceptualise their role as teachers. Staff involved: Aidan Gillespie

School Action Research into Religious Education in Primary and Secondary Schools
8500 Funded by Culham St Gabriel’s via RE Quality Mark
This project involves supervision of three teachers in primary and secondary settings undertaking research into their practice to improve learning in RE or SMSC. One looked at teaching using the Godly Play method in a bespoke built leaning facility, a second examined teaching Islam to Muslims in a Catholic school and a third examined progression in RE. Staff involved: Dr Bob Bowie

RE southeast hub (KE)
£2000 Funded by Culham St Gabriel’s
This is a network development project funding a network formation of teachers of RE in the southeast to build capacity for sharing bets practice and finding solutions to common professional challenges. Staff involved: Dr Bob Bowie


The International Seminar on Religion, Education and Values, is an association of over 240 religious education scholars from around 36 countries. It includes scholars from various religious traditions, and secular specialists in religious studies and education. Talk to Lynn, Bob or Trevor to find out more about ISREV.

Religious and Moral Education Special Interest Group (BERA)(

This group is part the British Association of Research in Education. The group aims to provide a forum within BERA for researchers of Religious Education and Moral Education in which to share their research and exchange ideas

to raise the profile of issues that relate to Religious and Moral Education within the British Educational Research Association and the academy more generally

to encourage recognition and discussion of research in these areas through the annual conference and by hosting seminars and encouraging research papers within BERJ and other journals. We organize a seminar each year. Talk to Lynn or Bob about the SIG.


AULRE exists to support the community of academics in the United Kingdom researching and teaching at the interface of religion and education. Talk to Lynn, Bob or Trevor about AULRE.

Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain(

The Society promotes the study, teaching and application of philosophy of education. This site tells you about the Society's activities and publications, gives details of forthcoming events, and links to other sites concerned withphilosophy of education.

These are regular awarding bodies with an interest in and around the theme group area.

Culham St Gabriel’s

Culham St Gabriel’s is committed to excellent religious education for learners of all phases, abilities, ethnicities and beliefs, and in all settings. They invite applications from individuals and organisations who can demonstrate the relevance of their work to one or more of the following strategic objectives:

  • To enable teachers and others to engage in research, development and innovation in religious education, school worship, spiritual and moral development or aspects of school ethos and leadership, through grants
  • To bring school-related professional development opportunities to teachers of RE, school leaders and clergy, through online presence, conferences, other events and networks, both directly and working with others
  • To facilitate policy work, public advocacy and positive public understanding of RE.

Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain

The society offers large grants to promote for the public benefit the advancement and teaching of philosophy of education, and small grants to support the pursuit of research and other activities that further the aims of the Society (normally limited to £750).

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

One are of the Foundation’s funding is in addressing the needs of people in society who suffer the effects of institutional injustice or those who have not enjoyed the kinds of opportunities in life that many of us take for granted.

Spencer Foundation

The Foundation has a New Civics interested in cultivating knowledge and new ideas about education will ultimately improve students’ lives and enrich society. The designation “new” refers to an expanded understanding of civic education and its relationship to civic action.

Jerusalem Trust

The object of the Trust are to advance the Christian religion and to promote Christian organisations and the charitable purposes and institutions they support and to advance Christian education and learning.



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Last edited: 23/07/2018 12:01:00