Shaping debate on religion in public life.

Research Fellows

William Temple Foundation Research Fellows are established or up and coming experts working in the Foundation’s key areas: religion and civil society; religion and wellbeing; religion, politics (including public policy) and economics; religion and urban change.

Research Fellows share our aims and objectives, sharing with trustees and staff the task of developing the mission and profile of the Foundation. The post of Research Fellow is a three year term, supported by a small annual honorarium. Research Fellows are usually recommended by the Director, a current Research Fellow or a trustee on the basis of their existing knowledge, writing and creative contribution to the areas of work the Foundation is committed to. If however, you are interested in supporting the work of the Foundation in this very direct way, and would like to be considered as a Research Fellow, please contact the Director in the first instance.

Senior Research Fellows

Dr Maria Power, FRHistS, is Research Fellow at Blackfriars, University of Oxford. She is the Director of the Human Dignity Project at Las Casas Institute for Social Justice.  In June 2019, she was a Holland Visiting Fellow at the University of Durham. In 2017 she was appointed as a Visiting Fellow at the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St Mary’s University as well as being awarded membership of the Catholic Theological Association.

Maria is the author of Catholic Social Teaching and Theologies of Peace in Northern Ireland (2020) and From Ecumenism to Community Relations: Inter-Church Relationships in Northern Ireland 1980-2005, (Dublin, 2007). And she is editor of Building Peace in Northern Ireland, (Liverpool, 2011). She has also published numerous scholarly articles on the role of faith-based organisations in building peace in Northern Ireland. She has spoken both nationally and internationally on the topic, and is a regular contributor to the media on issues relating to faith, politics, and justice, most recently appearing on a PBS documentary on Pope John Paul II’s visit to Northern Ireland and writing for the Irish Times. 

As well as being the Chair of Trustees for Good Works UK, a charity that helps young people make ethical choices in their careers, Maria also works with life-without-parole prisoners in the United States.

Rev’d Dr John Reader is a parish priest, theological educator and practical theologian with over 30 years experience in rural ministry. John has degrees from Oxford, Manchester and a Ph.D from the University of Wales, Bangor. He is Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Worcester and a Senior Tutor in Christian Rural and Environmental Studies at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. John’s most recent publications are ‘A Philosophy of Christian Materialism: Entangled Fidelities and the Public Good’ (Ashgate, 2015) co-written with Chris Baker and Tom James, and Theology and New Materialism: Spaces of Faithful Dissent (2017) published by Palgrave Macmillan. Follow John on Twitter @DrJohnReader

Research Fellows

Dr Matthew Barber-Rowell is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Master of Environmental Politics, Founder and Director of Spaces of Hope, and a former William Temple Scholar. Matthew has spent the last ten years working in urban contexts in the northwest of England, engaging with issues of loneliness, isolation and social connection, and applying grounded and assemblage theories to produce interventions that combat health inequalities. Matthew specialises in gathering stories, surfacing motivations, beliefs, values and worldviews and contextualising their role in shaping spaces, places and the wider environment.

In November 2020 Matthew successfully defended his PhD Thesis, which offers a new paradigm and consultative methodology for Faith Based Organisations. Spaces of Hope, as the paradigm is known, offers a means of mapping and coproducing shared assets, alliances, values, and practices within liminal contexts. In 2018, Spaces of Hope was included in the Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society in England, as a pioneering approach to bridge building and peace brokering. During 2019, Matthew contributed to the Church of England and Church in Wales Social Responsibility Network Annual Conference, using Spaces of Hope as a lens through which to see ‘Church on the High Street’. During 2020, Matthew supported research, along with colleagues from the Faith and Civil Societies Unit at Goldsmiths, looking at COVID-19 response by FBOs and Local Authorities nationally, for the APPG for Faith and Society. Matthew has recently been leading work scoping responses to General Synod’s call for Dioceses to be Net Zero by 2030. He is also scoping the potential role of emergent shared values and local leadership in post-COVID-19 contexts and the significance for our environment over the next ten years.

Rosie Dawson is a freelance journalist and radio producer who specialises in religion. As a BBC producer for more than 25 years she worked creatively on a variety of genres in both Radio and Television. She has won many industry awards for her work – including the Foreign Press Associations radio story of the year (2015) for a documentary on child soldiers. Her work on Radio 4’s “Sunday” and “Beyond Belief” means she has excellent connections across faith communities in UK. More recently she devised and presented Bible Society’s #SheToo podcast on narratives about the rape and abuse of women in the Bible. Rosie runs media training events, writes for the Religion Media Centre and sits on the Higher Education Funding Council’s panel assessing the quality of research in Religion and Theology. She’s also producer of the Foundation’s new podcast “Staying with the Trouble”. Follow Rosie on Twitter @RosieDawson

Tina Hearn

Dr Tina Hearn is a Social Policy Lecturer at the University of Birmingham specialising in social theory, the Director of Widening Participation in the School of Social Policy and a member of the steering committee of the Centre for Contemporary Philosophy of Technology. She has a strong commitment to widening participation and spends time, both inside and outside of work life, working with young people in a variety of ways in schools and colleges across the West Midlands. Tina has also been involved in community politics, with a focus upon equalities, racialisation and policy making. Tina teaches social theory, social policy and policy analysis, within which she has a particular interest in the roles of faith in politics and policy making. Tina’s current research interests revolve around the emergence of ‘New Materialisms’ and exploring some of their various inferences and implications for the roles of faith and faith movements in politics and policy making. Follow Tina on Twitter @SocialPolicyUoB

Rev’d Dr Tim Howles is an ordained minister in the Church of England. He completed his doctoral thesis at the University of Oxford on continental philosophy and its relation to the post-secular public sphere. He currently works for the Laudato Si’ Research Institute, based at Campion Hall. Tim is one of the editors of our series Temple Continental: Philosophers for our Time series and is host of our Staying with the Trouble podcast. You can follow him on Twitter here or on Academia here, or via his blog here.

Dr Sanjee Perera is a Cognitive Ecclesiologist and the current Archbishop’s Adviser on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns in the Church of England. She is also a visiting fellow at Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations collaborating on a COVID-19 impact project on Christian Faith Based Organisations funded by the British Academy. She is also an Associate Fellow of the Open University’s School of Law, advocating on various projects including on Immigration, Citizenship & Governance, and on the BLM movement and Statutes & Public Memorials, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Chester. She is also on the trustee board and executive committee of the British and Irish Association for Practical Theology and various other charities and special interest groups with a theological focus. While her Doctoral expertise is on Moral judgement and Ethno-social identity in Societies of conflict, her more recent work focusses on Cognitive ecclesiology. Her research brings a Cognitive psychological framework to Philosophy, Theology & Religion, particularly focusing on racialised stake holds in the Church of England. She is also an avid Church crawler with a hobbyist interest in stained glass and ecclesiastical material culture. Follow Sanjee on twitter @sanjeeperera1.

Greg Smith religion public life

Greg Smith has worked for over forty years in urban mission, community development and social research in London and Preston. He has published extensively on religion in the inner city, faith involvement in urban regeneration, and urban theology. Until retirement in 2019 Greg worked for Together Lancashire, a joint venture of Church Urban Fund, Diocese of Blackburn and the Lancashire Methodist District supporting faith based social action and urban churches in the western half of the county. He continues to be active in the City of Sanctuary movement in Preston, in his local inner city parish and in projects and networks addressing food poverty and financial inclusion. From 2011 to 2016 he also worked for the Evangelical Alliance managing the 21st Century Evangelicals research programme and continues to analyse and publish academic papers based on the data. See more on  Greg’s work and publications. In his spare time he enjoys photography, bird watching, railways and walking with his dog.

John Atherton

In memory: Rev’d Canon Professor John Atherton (1939 – 2016) was an esteemed and beloved member of the William Temple Foundation team for over 40 years. His work journeyed through involvement with issues of poverty in the 1960s – 1980s, to engagement with economic systems as a cause of poverty from the 1980s – late 1990, leading to engagement with the wider subject of economics, and its growing involvement with wellbeing studies. He was widely considered one of the leading public theologians of his generation and is greatly missed. Read more about John’s life and work here

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