Liam Francis Gearon (BA, Hons, MA, MPhil, Cert He, PhD, FHEA, FRSA, Docent) is Associate Professor in Religious Education in the Department of Education, Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford; Docent, University of Helsinki, Finland; Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the School of Education, University of Birmingham, UK; Conjoint Professor at Newcastle University, Australia; Visiting Professor at the Irish Centre for Catholic Studies, MIC, Limerick, Ireland; Extraordinary Professor, North-West University, South Africa.
Liam Francis Gearon is Founder-Convenor of the Philosophy, Religion, Education Research Group, providing a unique interdisciplinary contribution to the research culture of the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. The Philosophy, religion and education Research Group specifically forges theoretical and empirical interconnections between the arts, humanities, philosophy and the social sciences through the common focus of education. Contributions of this research group have been made to matters such as: theories of research policy and impact; the cultural value of research in the arts and humanities; research ethics; the intersection of epistemological and ethical domains in research in schools; religion, radicalisation and counter-terrorism in schools and universities; and the creation of distinctive sub-field of study at the interface of education, security and intelligence studies.
A specialist in the interdisciplinary study of religion in education, and particularly noted for the 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) [2016 Society of Education Studies Book Prize]; Religious Authority and the Arts: Conversations in Political Theology (Gearon, 2015); and State Religious Education and the State of the Religious Life (Gearon and Prud’homme, 2018).
His theorisations of the politicisation and securitisation of religion in education have been the subject of intense international debate for several years. Landmark publications on security in education – ‘The Counter-Terrorist Classroom’ (2013); ‘The Counter-Terrorist Classroom’ (2017); ‘Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Policy and Research in UK Universities’ (2018): ‘Research Ethics in the Securitised University’ (Gearon and Parsons, 2019) and ‘The Kill Chain’ (Gearon, 2020) – have enabled empirical, methodological and theoretical advances on elites’ theory, the ethics of security and radicalisation research (Gearon and Kuusisto, 2018; Kuusisto and Gearon, 2017; Benjamin, Gearon, Kuusisto, Koirikivi, 2021).
With cognate research interests in security across all phases of education, Liam has over a decade collaboratively developed 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). Interdisciplinary and inter-agency work in this area has included the Nuffield Foundation funded Universities and National Security: Research and Policy Collaborations 2019-2020, with a cross-disciplinary research team of 14 distinguished Co-Investigators.
With a significant Academy of Finland research grant (2018-2022) with Arniika Kuusisto (Stockholm/Helsinki/ Oxford), we oversee the research of two highly productive early career, post-doctoral researchers on radicalisation. This includes notable social and policy impacts such as the development of a national strategy around extremism through education for the Ministry of Justice in Finland (Activities | Growing up radical? | University of Helsinki). With substantial quantitative and qualitative data gathered, the project has already produced a substantial number of quality research outputs (Publications | Growing up radical? | University of Helsinki).
With a doctorate in English literature, Liam has also drawn on arts and humanities theoretical knowledge and methodological approaches to advance what are now intense cross-disciplinary debates around ‘decolonising the curriculum’ in religious education. From 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’ – he has recently led 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).
As Principal Investigator, Liam has led funded research projects with the Academy of Finland, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, and the Society for Educational Studies, 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.
Doctoral supervision and Graduate teaching
PGCE Religious Education (Subject lead)
- Masters in Learning and Teaching (Subject lead)
- Comparative and International Education
2020- Docent, Helsinki University, Finland
2020- Extraordinary Professor, Faculty of Education, North-West University, South Africa
2019-2021 Visiting Professor, Irish Institute of Catholic Studies, MIC, Limerick, Ireland
2012-2020 Conjoint Professor, Newcastle University, Australia
2019-2023 Honorary Senior Research Fellow, School of Education, University of Birmingham
PREVIOUS EXTERNAL POSTS
2011-2018, Adjunct Professor, Australian Catholic University, Australia
2010-2011, Visiting Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Plymouth
2008-2010, Research Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Plymouth
2006-2008, Professor of Education, University of Roehampton
2000-2006, Reader in Education, University of Surrey Roehampton
2006-2008, Senior Fellow, Centre of Excellence in Human Rights, University of Surrey Roehampton
2005-2008, Vice-President, International Human Rights Education Consortium, New York, USA
2001-2005, Director, Centre for Research in Human Rights, University of Surrey, Roehampton
1996-2000, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Roehampton, London
UK RESEARCH COUNCIL PEER REVIEW COLLEGES
AHRC Expert Group on Covid Research Group and Research Grant Panel ‘Introducer’
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)
Executive (2019-2022) Oxford Intelligence Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford
Fellow, Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
Fellow, Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)
Cambridge Intelligence Seminar
OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE ROLES AT OXFORD
Elected by Congregation to the University of Oxford Prevent Steering Group
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
Gearon, L. (Guest editor) (2021) Literature and Security, Special Issue, Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, with a planned formal launch at Lodz, Poland.
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.
Gearon, L. (Guest Editor) (2019) Special Issue of Religions 10 (1) on Religion, Security, Education.
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.
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.
Gearon, L. (Guest Editor) (2015) British Journal of Educational Studies, Special Issue, Education, Security and Intelligence Studies, 63 (3) 263-411.
Tirri, K., (Finland) Campbell, E. (Canada), Gearon, L. (UK), Lovat, T. (Australia) (Guest Editors) (2012) The Moral Core of Teaching, Education Research International.
Gearon, L. (Guest Editor) (2008) Citizenship, Human Rights and Religion, British Journal of Religious Education, 30 (2) 93-108.
Gearon, L. (Guest Editor) (2006) Children’s Spirituality and Children’s Rights, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 11 (2) 193-310.
Nigel is Associate Professor of Learning, Teaching and Values, and is Director of the Masters in Learning and Teaching.
His research broadly encompasses the pedagogical implications of collaborative working, inter-disciplinarity, and intersecting knowledge-practices, and particularly:
- Conflicting epistemological and ethical demands across professional and educational practices, such as building research capacity in teacher education
- Research and schools, i.e. how and why teachers engage in and with research, such as the use of attachment theory in schools
- Religions and schools, notably around curriculum, schooling, ethics and freedom of belief, such as argumentation in religious education and science
Besides teaching on the MLT, he also teaches on the PGCE (in religious education) and on various research degrees, notably for a module on the Philosophy of Educational Research.
Current professional associations: Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education; British Education Research Association; European Network for Religious Education through Contextual Approaches; International Seminar for Religious Education and Values; Philosophy of Education (Great Britain) Society.
He is on the editorial board of Journal of Beliefs and Values, and also reviews for British Journal of Religious Education, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Oxford Review of Education, and Teachers and Teacher Education.
CONSULTANCY: Nigel welcomes consultancy work with schools, educational organisations and governments, and has carried out projects around the world, notably in Bhutan, India and Lebanon.