Department of Education

Liam Gearon

Associate Professor

College Affiliation: Harris Manchester College

A philosopher and theorist of education, Liam Francis Gearon is a specialist in critical, historical and contemporary analyses of education in multi-disciplinary contexts.

His research takes a multiplicity of methodological and theoretical approaches:

  • philosophical and history of ideas approaches to religion in education, particularly focused on the epistemological foundations of contemporary religious education, post-Enlightenment paradigms of religion in education, political theologies, particularly the politicisation and securitisation of religion in education (key works including the award-winning On Holy Ground; MasterClass in Religious Education; and highlighted in numerous journal articles discussing the ‘Gearon-Jackson’ debate);
  • philosophy of education through history of ideas applications to cultural and political life, particularly analyses of the arts and literature, including multiple grant funded projects, articles, edited collections, monographs, seminars, conferences and international colloquia with beyond-the-Academy impacts;
  • the historical emergence and contemporary governance of human rights education, particularly historical-political framings of totalitarianism;
  • the historical and theoretical framing of UK-US security and intelligence agency relationships with universities, including a guest edited volume of British Journal of Educational Studies which initiated this sub-field, conceptualisations of the securitised university, and collaborations with US Military Intelligence on research ethics; and, drawing together many elements of the foregoing;
  • the historical determinants of counter-extremism in education, including recent substantial articles on counter-terrorism, publications on value learning and the life trajectory, and empirical research with Arniika Kuusisto (Helsinki/Stockholm/Oxford) on value learning and life history research in political and security contexts, a four year collaborative project funded by the Academy of Finland.

Concurrently Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Liam was formerly Adjunct Professor at the Australian Catholic University and also previously Professor of Education at the University of Roehampton and Research Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Plymouth. With a published doctorate in English Literature, I am the author and or editor of over thirty books and seventy peer-review articles and chapters in a multiple range of disciplines, including the arts, literature and philosophy, political theology, as well as citizenship, human rights and religion in education.

As Principal Investigator, he led research projects over twenty years, with funding including the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, and the Society for Educational Studies, with recent co-investigator roles with the Academy of Finland.

For over two decades, this scholarship has transgressed but interconnected the epistemological boundaries between the arts, humanities and social sciences, enabling new theoretical directions and research collaborations to create problem-solving frameworks for interdisciplinary investigation.

He has delivered keynote lectures, seminars and colloquia in Australia, Austria, Canada, Dubai, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Georgia (former Soviet Union), Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

He has recently convened two major international invitation-colloquia which have attempted to extend the theoretical boundaries of educational studies. With substantial funding from the Society for Educational Studies, these colloquia were both convened at Oriel College, Oxford:

  • Education, Security and Intelligence Studies (2017)
  • Writers and their Education (with Emma Williams) (2018)

Further details are available at, and both colloquia continuing to produce a number of individual and collaborative research outputs.

He has guest edited seven international peer-review journals, including the British Journal of Children’s Spirituality (on Children’s Rights), the British Journal of Religious Education (on Religion, Human Rights and Religious Education), Education Research International (with Kirsi Tirri, Terence Lovat and Elizabeth Campbell on The Moral Core of Teaching); the British Journal of Educational Studies (twice, on Education, Security and Intelligence Studies; and guest editing this journal a second time for a forthcoming special issue on Writers and their Education); the international journal Religions for a special issue on Religion, Security and Education; and with Emma Williams the Journal of Philosophy of Education (on Philosophy, Literature and Education).

A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), Liam Francis Gearon is an appointed member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Peer Review College and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Peer Review College, serving too on the Peer Review College of Research Councils UK Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

He has also made sustained contributions of service to the following international research councils: Academy of Finland; Austrian Science Fund; EU 7th Framework Program for Research; Hong Kong Research Grants Council’s Public Policy Research Fund; Irish Research Council; National Research Foundation, South Africa; and  Templeton Foundation.

A graduate of the Curtis Brown novel-writing course, his debut novel, Eleven Notebooks, is published in 2018. A further novel is forthcoming, The Corridor of Centuries.

Doctoral Applications

Liam welcomes doctoral applications from students interested in the following research areas:

  • Religion and education
  • Philosophy of education
  • Philosophy, literature, education
  • Education, security and intelligence studies
  • University relations with security and intelligence agencies


  • Featured Publications

  • Books

    • Gearon, L, Prud'homme, J (2018) State Religious Education and the State of Religious Life. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

    • Gearon, LF (2015) Religious authority and the arts: Conversations in political theology.

    • Gearon, LF, Runcie, K (2013) Christianity. Oxford: Macmillan.

    • Gearon, L, Naval, C (2013) Foreword.

    • Gearon, L (2013) Education in the United Kingdom Structures and Organisation. Routledge.

    • Gearon, L (2013) On holy ground: The theory and practice of religious education.

    • Gearon, L (2013) MasterClass in Religious Education: Transforming Teaching and Learning. London and New York: Bloomsbury.

    • Gearon, L (2012) Introduction.

    • Gearon, L (2011) Contemporary Issues in Human Rights Education. Paris: UNESCO.

    • Engebretson, K, Souza, MD, Durka, G, Gearon, L (2010) International Handbook of Inter-religious Education. Springer.

    • Arthur, J, Gearon, L, Sears, A (2010) Education, politics and religion: Reconciling the civil and the sacred in education.

    • Gearon, LF (2010) The Religious Education Handbook. London: DfE and Religious Education Council for England and Wales.

    • Gearon, L (2009) Introduction.

    • Gearon, L (2009) Learning to teach citizenship in the secondary school: A companion to school experience: Second edition.

    • Gearon, LF, Hayes, MA (2006) Contemporary Catholic Theology: A Reader (Russian Edition). St Petersburg:

    • Gearon, L (2006) Freedom of expression and human rights historical, literary and political contexts. Sussex Academic Pr.

    • Gearon, L (2006) A Practical Guide to Teaching Citizenship in the Secondary School. Routledge.

    • Gearon, LF (2004) Brother Roger and the Story of Taize. Canterbury: SCM.

    • Gearon, L (2004) A Noble Life The Story of Aung San Suu Kyi.

    • Gearon, L (2003) Learning to teach citizenship in the secondary school: A companion to school experience.

    • Gearon, L (2003) The Human Rights Handbook A Global Perspective for Education. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

    • Gearon, LF (2003) Citizenship Through Secondary Religious Education. Citizenship Education in Secondary Schools. London: Routledge.

    • Gearon, L (2002) Human Rights & Religion A Reader. Sussex Academic Press.

    • Chaplain, MAH, Gearon, L (2002) Contemporary Catholic Education. Gracewing Publishing.

    • Gearon, L (2002) Landscapes of Encounter The Portrayal of Catholicism in the Novels of Brian Moore. University of Calgary Press.

    • Gearon, LF (2001) Pope John Paul II. Canterbury: SCM.

    • Hayes, MA, Gearon, L (1999) Contemporary Catholic Theology A Reader. New York: Continuum.

    • Gearon, L (1999) English Literature, Theology and the Curriculum. Bloomsbury Publishing.

    • Gearon, LF, Hayes, MA (1998) Contemporary Catholic Theology: A Reader. Leominster: Gracewing.

    • Gearon, LF (1998) A Modern Martyr: The Story of Oscar Romero. Canterbury: SCM.

  • Book chapters

    • Gearon, L (2016) “Global human rights”, In: The Palgrave International Handbook of Education for Citizenship and Social Justice. 205-228

    • Gearon, L (2013) “Freedom and identity: Case study by Germany”, In: Images and Identity: Educating Citizenship Through Visual Arts. 266-275

    • Gearon, L (2013) “Religious Education and citizenship: A human rights approach”, In: Learning to Teach Religious Education in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience, Second Edition. 211-222

    • Gearon, L (2013) “Education and religious authority: Six benchmark questions for framing an enquiry”, In: The Routledge International Handbook of Education, Religion and Values. 311-325

    • Gearon, L (2009) “Politics and pedagogy: Citizenship beyond the classroom”, In: Learning to Teach Citizenship in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience: Second Edition. 123-134

    • Gearon, L (2009) “Citizenship making links with religious education”, In: Learning to Teach Citizenship in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience: Second Edition. 185-198

    • Gearon, L (2005) “The teaching of human rights in religious education: The case of genocide”, In: Education, Religion and Society: Essays in honour of John M. Hull. 71-82

    • Gearon, L (2003) Introduction.

    • Gearon, L (2003) “Developing schemes of work in citizenship”, In: Learning to Teach Citizenship in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience. 153-176

    • Gearon, L, Holness, M, Mace, D (2003) “Mapping the complexities of citizenship”, In: Learning to Teach Citizenship in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience. 73-99

    • Gearon, L, Brown, M (2003) “Active participation in citizenship”, In: Learning to Teach Citizenship in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience. 203-223

  • Journal articles

    • Gearon, LF, Parsons, S (2019) “Research Ethics in the Securitised University”, Journal of Academic Ethics. 17(1) 73-93.

    • Gearon, L (2019) “The educational sociology and political theology of disenchantment: From the secularization to the securitization of the sacred”, Religions. 10(1)

    • Ball, SJ (2019) “A social history of educational studies and research”, BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES. 67(2) 277-278.

    • Gearon, L (2018) “Terrorism and counter-terrorism policy and research in UK universities (1997–2017): an analytic-structural review of the literature and related sources”, Policy Reviews in Higher Education. 2(1) 32-60.

    • Gearon, L (2018) “Paradigm shift in religious education: a reply to Jackson, or why religious education goes to war”, JOURNAL OF BELIEFS & VALUES-STUDIES IN RELIGION & EDUCATION. 39(3) 358-378.

    • Gearon, L, Kuusisto, A (2018) “Researching religious authority in education: Political theology, elites’ theory and the double nexus”, Power and Education. 10(1) 3-24.

    • Gearon, L, Wynne-Davies, M (2018) “Literature and Security: CIA Engagement in the Arts. What Philosophers of Education Need to Know and Why”, JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION. 52(4) 742-761.

    • Gearon, L (2018) “A Very Political Philosophy of Education: Science Fiction, Schooling and Social Engineering in the Life and Work of HG Wells Literary Lives, Political Philosophies, Public Education”, JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION. 52(4) 762-777.

    • Gearon, L, Williams, E (2018) “Why is the Relationship Between Philosophy and Literature of Significance for the Philosophy of Education?”, JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION. 52(4) 579-591.

    • Kuusisto, A, Gearon, L (2017) “The life trajectory of the finnish religious educator”, Religion and Education. 44(1) 39-53.



    • Gearon, L (2015) “Religious Education and the Challenge of Pluralism”, JOURNAL OF CHURCH AND STATE. 57(3) 563-565.

    • Gearon, L (2014) “Leadership and religious schools: international perspectives and challenges”, BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES. 62(4) 465-466.

    • Gearon, L (2013) “The Routledge international handbook of religious education”, BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES. 61(4) 491-492.

    • Gearon, L (2013) “The Counter Terrorist Classroom: Religion, Education, and Security”, RELIGIOUS EDUCATION. 108(2) 129-147.

    • Gearon, L (2013) “Religion, Education and the State: An Unprincipled Doctrine in Search of Meanings.”, BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES. 61(2) 260-261.

    • Gearon, L (2013) “The King James Bible and the Politics of Religious Education: Secular State and Sacred Scripture”, RELIGIOUS EDUCATION. 108(1) 9-27.

    • Tirri, K, Campbell, E, Gearon, L, Lovat, TJ (2012) “The Moral Core of Teaching”, Education Research International. 2012 1-2.

    • Guest Editors: Kirsi Tirri, Elizabeth Campbell, Liam Gearon, Terence J. Lovat (2012) “Special Issue: The Moral Core of Teaching”, Education Research InternationalK Tirri, E Campbell, LF Gearon, T Lovat (eds.) . 2012


    • Gearon, L (2010) “Inspiring faith in schools: studies in religious education”, JOURNAL OF MORAL EDUCATION. 39(1) 121-123.

    • Gearon, L (2008) “Religion and education in Europe: Developments, contexts and debates”, BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES. 56(3) 351-353.

    • Gearon, L, (Guest Editor) (2008) “Special Issue: Citizenship, Human Rights and Religion”, British Journal of Religious EducationLF Gearon (ed.) . 30(2)

    • Gearon, L (2008) “Religion, politics and pedagogy: historical contexts”, BRITISH JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION. 30(2) 93-102.

    • Gearon, L (2008) “Freedom from repression: Some thoughts on totalitarianism for religious, spiritual and citizenship/human rights education”, International Journal of Children's Spirituality. 13(1) 5-14.

    • Gearon, L (2008) “Spiritual education in a divided world: social, environmental and pedagogical perspectives on the spirituality of children and young people”, JOURNAL OF MORAL EDUCATION. 37(1) 141-142.

    • Gearon, L, (Guest Editor) (2006) “Special Issue: Children's Spirituality and Children's Rights”, International Journal of Children's SpiritualityLF Gearon (ed.) . 11(2)

    • Gearon, L (2006) “Children's spirituality and children's rights”, International Journal of Children's Spirituality. 11(2) 193-198.

    • Gearon, L (2002) “Human rights and religious education: Some postcolonial perspectives”, British Journal of Religious Education. 24(2) 140-151.

    • Gearon, L (2001) “The imagined other: Postcolonial theory and religious education”, British Journal of Religious Education. 23(2) 98-106.

    • Gearon, L (2001) “A spirituality of dissent: Religion, culture and post-colonial criticism”, International Journal of Children's Spirituality. 6(3) 289-298.

    • Gearon, L “The counter-terrorist campus: Securitisation theory and university securitisation – Three Models”, Transformation in Higher Education. 2

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