The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T +44 (0)1227 764000
Research and External Relationships
The Department offers an active research environment with staff involved in producing both traditional forms of research output as well as a range of public engagement and impact activities. Through the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society it runs a regular research seminar, as well as other conferences and symposia, often in conjunction with other academic institutions. Recent publications and individual research interests of staff within the Department can be found on the staff pages.
Saving the Child for the Sake of the Nation
What was the underpinning moral and religious logic that underpinned major child welfare schemes managed by religious organizations between the 1850s-1970s, which separated children from their families for the sake of the moral and physical health of the nation? What were the effects of these schemes on children's lives, and how do we address their legacy today?
Religious NGO’s and the United Nations
As the number of religious non-governmental organizations registered with the UN continues to grow, what can we learn about the different types of work these groups engage in? What are their motivations and aims, and how successful is their lobbying work in shaping UN policy?
Religion, the sacred and changing cultures of everyday life
How is religion implicated in changing patterns of media, consumption and cultural practice? How might this change our understanding of contemporary religion, and what ethical questions do these new contexts raise?
The sacred in the modern world
How can the concept of the sacred be used as a tool for social and cultural analysis? How do sacred forms continue to shape modern life?
Young people and the cultural performance of belief
How do the religious and spiritual lives of young people today challenge narrow concepts of ‘belief’? How might we think differently about the nature and significance of belief in religious life?
The Department has a strong track record in securing external research grants. Professor Jeremy Carrette’s award of £427,736 to study religious NGOs within the United Nations was the largest single award to have been made by the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society programme. Since 2008, staff within the Department have won a total of 11 grant and studentship awards from the AHRC and ESRC, reflecting particular strengths in theory and method in the study of religion and the study of religion and contemporary society. Further details on research projects developed by the Department are available on the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society website.
The Department is committed to developing high quality research training, and is the only Religious Studies department in the UK to have received two AHRC awards to develop national training programmes; on research methods for the study of religion and researching the contemporary moral landscape. This has led to the creation of an online resource which is now used internationally for training in social research methods in the study of religion.
Staff within the Department have undertaken national and international roles in supporting research in the study of religion. Both Jeremy Carrette and Gordon Lynch are members of the Research Excellence Framework panel for Theology and Religious Studies. Abby Day is currently Chair of the British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Religion study group (with Robin Gill and Gordon Lynch having served as the previous two chairs). Jessica Frazier is founding and managing editor of the Journal of Hindu Studies, published by Oxford University Press, and is a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. Gordon Lynch has formerly been co-chair of the Religion, Media and Culture Group within the American Academy of Religion, and is now a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University.
Members of staff in the Department are committed to a wide range of collaborative and advisory work with external organizations. Robin Gill is a member of the ethics committees of the British Medical Association, the Medical Research Council, the Nuffield Council on Bio-Ethics, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Jessica Frazier serves as a consultant for programmes on religion for the BBC, and has also recently undertaken research in conjunction with the Hindu-Christian Forum of Britain. Jeremy Carrette is developing collaborative research with religious NGOs accredited by the United Nations. Gordon Lynch supervises AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award projects run in conjunction with the National Union of Students and the British Museum. He also writes regularly for leading blogs such as the Guardian’s Comment is Free Belief section, and recently worked with the leading producer of on-line religious education materials, Truetube, to produce a series of short films on the sacred for use in the classroom. Abby Day is the only qualitative researcher to serve as an advisor for the 2011 National Census, and currently holds an AHRC Placement Fellowship with the British Council building on her research on belief.