Liam Francis Gearon (BA, Hons, MA, MPhil, Cert He, PhD, FHEA, FRSA) is Associate Professor in Religious Education in the Department of Education, Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, Conjoint Professor at Newcastle University, Australia, and Visiting Professor at the Irish Centre for Catholic Studies, MIC, Limerick, Ireland.
Founder-Director of the Philosophy, Religion, Education Research Group, Liam is a specialist in the interdisciplinary study of religion in education, and has led the teaching of religious education at Oxford for a decade. With a published doctorate in English Literature nominated for the Canadian Governor General’s Award, for over two decades Liam has undertaken archival, empirical and theoretical scholarship and research at the interface of education with citizenship,human rights, literature, philosophy, political/ theology, postcolonial theory, religious studies, security and intelligence studies.
His theorisations of the politicisation and securitisation of religion in education have been the subject of intense international debate for several years (Jackson, 2019; Lewin, 2017; Pirner, Lahnemann, Haussmann and Schwarz, 2019).
Particularly noted, too, for his systematic philosophical and history of ideas analysis on the epistemological foundations of religious education, his framing of the paradigms of religion in education – scriptural-theological; phenomenological; psychological-experiential; philosophical-conceptual; social-cultural; political-historical – has contributed new insights to secularisation theory in numerous, some award-winning, monographs, such as MasterClass in Religious Education (Gearon, 2013), On Holy Ground (Gearon, 2015), Religious Authority and the Arts: Conversations in Political Theology (Gearon, 2015) State Religious Education and the State of the Religious Life (Gearon and Prud’homme, 2018); enabled methodological advances in elites’ theory and life trajectory research (Gearon and Kuusisto, 2018; Kuusisto and Gearon, 2017); and facilitated new framings of the relationship between the arts, humanities and the social sciences through literary work in the philosophy of education (Gearon and Williams, 2018; Gearon and Williams, 2019; Gearon and Wynne-Davies, 2018).
Having close on twenty years ago completed a doctorate in English literature on the portrayal of Catholicism in the novels of the British-Irish-Canadian writer Brian Moore, this work significantly incorporated postcolonial theory and theology in a work of literary criticism published conjointly in Canada and the United States (Gearon, 2002). Somewhat in advance of what are now intense cross-disciplinary debates around ‘decolonising the curriculum’, around this period he applied this work in the arts and humanities to education, publishing a series of foundational papers addressing the relationship between religious education and postcolonial theory – Gearon (2001a) ‘The Imagined Other: Postcolonial Theory and Religious Education’; Gearon (2001b) ‘A Spirituality of Dissent: Religion, Culture and Postcolonial Criticism’; Gearon (2002a) ‘Human Rights and Religious Education: Some Postcolonial Perspectives’ – and is now leading an international team (UK, Finland, Sweden, South Africa) as Guest Editor of the British Journal of Religious Education, for a high profile special issue on religion and education in postcolonial context (Gearon, Kuusisto, Matemba, Benjamin, Du Preez, Koirikivi, and Simmonds, 2020).
Drawing extensively on new formulations of securitisation theory, arguably Liam’s most intellectually ambitious task over the past several years has been collaboratively to develop an interdisciplinary sub-field at the boundary of universities, security and intelligence studies, including research ethics in the securitised university (Gearon and Parsons, 2019). One of the defining outcomes here is Liam’s quarter of a million word edited collection arising from the international Colloquium at Oriel College he convened in 2017, the Routledge International Handbook of Universities, Security and Intelligence Studies (Gearon, 2019), with a Michaelmas launch under the auspices of the Oxford Intelligence Group (OIG) at Nuffield College.
As Principal Investigator, he has led funded research projects with 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 a current co-investigator role with the Academy of Finland, a career total of funding exceeding £5,000,000, including a £4.5 million grant to establish a centre for citizenship and human rights at the University of Surrey Roehampton.
Visiting Professor, Irish Institute of Catholic Studies, MIC, Limerick, Ireland
Conjoint Professor, Newcastle University, Australia
University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, External Examiner
Previous External Posts
Adjunct Professor, Australian Catholic University, Australia
Visiting Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Plymouth
Research Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Plymouth
Professor of Education, University of Roehampton
Reader in Education, University of Surrey Roehampton
Senior Fellow, Centre of Excellence in Human Rights, University of Surrey Roehampton
Vice-President, International Human Rights Education Consortium, New York, USA
Director, Centre for Research in Human Rights, University of Surrey
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Roehampton, London
UK Research Council Peer Review Colleges
AHRC Peer Review College (2019 Gold Standard award, for ‘Recognition of significant contributions to the AHRC Peer Review College’)
ESRC Peer Review College
Universities UK Peer Review College Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)
International Research Council Peer Reviewer
Academy of Finland
Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
EU 7th Framework Program for Research
Hong Kong Research Grants Council’s Public Policy Research Fund (PPR)
Irish Research Council
John Templeton Foundation
National Research Foundation, South Africa
Professional and Research Associations
Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education (AULRE, co-founder and former Chair)
British Educational Research Association (BERA)
European Educational Research Association (EERA)
International Seminar on Religious Education and Values (ISREV)
Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB)
Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE)
Society for Educational Studies (SES)
Cambridge Intelligence Seminar
Oxford Intelligence Group
Fellow, Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
Fellow, Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)
Oxford Children’s Book Group/ Federation of Children’s Book Groups
Royal Society of Literature
Other Administrative Roles at Oxford
Social Sciences Divisional representative of the Permanent Private Halls Supervisory Committee (PPHSC), a senior committee of the University of Oxford overseeing governance of Blackfriars; Campion Hall; Regent’s Park College; St Benet’s; St Stephen’s House; Wycliffe Hall.
Member, Central University Research Ethics Committee (CUREC)
Chair, Department of Education Research Ethics Committee (DREC)
Member, Inter-Divisional Social Sciences and Humanities Research Ethics Committee (IDREC)
Chair, Bodleian Library Education Committee
Member and occasional Chair Social Sciences Divisional Library Committee
Education Advisory Group, Christ Church College, Oxford
Editorship of International Journals
1. Gearon, L. (Guest editor) (2020) Literature and Security, Special Issue, Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, with a planned formal launch at Lodz, Poland.
2. Gearon, L., (Lead Guest Editor with editorial team) Kuusisto, A., Matemba, Y., Benjamin, S., Du Preez, P., Koirikivi, P., Simmonds, S. (2020) Decolonising the Religious Education Curriculum: International Perspectives in Theory, Research, and Practice, Special Issue, British Journal of Religious Education.
3. Gearon, L. (Guest Editor) (2019) Special Issue of Religions 10 (1) on Religion, Security, Education.
4. Gearon, L. and Williams, E. (Guest Editors) (2019) Special Issue of the British Journal of Educational Studies, Writers and their Education, 67 (3), 283–289.
5. Gearon, L. and Williams, E. (Guest Editors) (2018) Special Issue of Journal of Philosophy of Education on Philosophy, Literature and Education, 52 (4), 577-777.
6. Gearon, L. (Guest Editor) (2015) British Journal of Educational Studies, Special Issue, Education, Security and Intelligence Studies, 63 (3) 263-411.
7. Tirri, K., (Finland) Campbell, E. (Canada), Gearon, L. (UK), Lovat, T. (Australia) (Guest Editors) (2012) The Moral Core of Teaching, Education Research International.
8. Gearon, L. (Guest Editor) (2008) Citizenship, Human Rights and Religion, British Journal of Religious Education, 30 (2) 93-108.
9. Gearon, L. (Guest Editor) (2006) Children’s Spirituality and Children’s Rights, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 11 (2) 193-310.
Liam is also the author of three novels:
L.F. Gearon (2019) Eleven Notebooks (London: Pegasus) – publication date 28 February 2019
L.F. Gearon (2019) The Corridor of Centuries (London: Olympia) – publication date 31 January 2019
L.F. Gearon (2020) The English Professor (London: Austin Macauley)