What is WRERU?
The Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU) was established in 1994, under the Directorship of Professor Robert Jackson, on the formation of the Institute of Education at the University of Warwick. WRERU absorbed the various research studies previously combined within the Religious Education and Community Project based in the former Arts Education Department at Warwick University. WRERU received the Templeton UK Award in 1996 for its contribution to intercultural understanding through the study of religious diversity in education. Professor Leslie Francis took over from Professor Robert Jackson as director of WRERU in October 2012.
WRERU undertakes externally funded research and development projects in religions and education and related fields. WRERU's research on Religions and Education contributes especially to the Warwick Educational Unit of Assessment’s research theme on 'Culture and Identity'. Although the bulk of WRERU's research is directly on the sub theme of ‘Religions and Education’, some of its work contributes to other sub themes such as ‘Intercultural Communication and Identity’ and ‘Quality of Life, Belief and Youth'.
Some of WRERU's work is relevant to other main research themes. For example, pedagogical research on the interpretive approach and dialogue in religious education is relevant to the theme of 'Teaching, Learning and Professional Practice'. Research on the religious identity of children from mixed faith families and on young people's attitudes towards religious diversity is relevant to the theme of 'Childhood'.
WRERU has specialist expertise in a wide range of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and in applying the findings of research to fields such as religious education, intercultural education, citizenship education, peace education, human rights education, teacher training, clergy training and medical education.
Outcomes of Research
WRERU research studies are contributing to:
Research and development collaborations in Europe, Asia, Australasia, Southern Africa, and North America
- Dissemination of research and development findings via the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations ‘Education about Religions and Beliefs’ clearinghouse website
- Dissemination of research and development through collaboration with the Council of Europe related European Wergeland Centre in Oslo
- Council of Europe policy and practice on incorporating the dimension of religious diversity into intercultural education in 47 European states
- an Organisation for Security and Co-operation project on producing international guiding principles for teaching about religions and beliefs for 56 participant states
- EC policy on religion, education, dialogue and conflict through a Framework 6 research project
- a major project for the UK Government's Department for Children, Schools and Families on materials used to teach about world religions in schools of all types in England
- a major AHRC/ESRC research project in the ‘Religion and Society’ programme, on young people’s attitudes in the UK to religious diversity
- the introduction of the interpretive approach to teaching and learning in religious education in countries including Britain, many European countries, Turkey, Canada, the USA, Japan and South Africa
- religious education policy and practice in Europe and in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
- knowledge and understanding of young people’s values in the UK and Europe more widely
- understanding of children’s dialogue on religious, values and citizenship issues
- understanding of various forms of faith-based education
- understanding of religion in relation to health issues, including mental and psychological health
- religious education in the locality of the University via the Coventry and Warwickshire Standing Advisory Councils for Religious Education
Professor Leslie J. Francis (Director); Professor Jeff Astley; Professor Robert Jackson; Dr Elisabeth Arweck; Dr Judith Everington; Dr Ursula McKenna; Dr Abdullah Sahin; Dr Tania ap Sion; Dr David Lankshear.
Dr Ann Casson; Dr Randolph Ellis; Dr Bill Gent; Dr Julia Ipgrave; Dr Joyce Miller; Dr Daniel Moulin; Dr Sean Neill; Dr Stephen Parker; Dr Gemma Penny; Dr Rosemary Preston; Dr Norman Richardson; Dr Nicholas Thanissaro; Dr Andrew Village; Dr Barbara Wintersgill.
Graduate students reading for MA, PhD and EdD degrees in religious education at the University of Warwick make an important contribution to WRERU's work. Many of these researchers are serving teachers, and WRERU is committed to facilitating research which contributes to positive change in schools.