The William Temple Scholars are completing their studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. Previous Scholars have become Research Fellows for the Foundation. These include Val Barron, Gill Reeve, and Matthew Barber-Rowell
Matt is a youth worker, climate activist, community organiser and researcher. His PhD research on Extinction Rebellion (XR) UK seeks to interpret the social movement organisation in terms of religion and emotion, exploring how and why people from different faith-based, spiritual and secular perspectives are mobilised and sustain their participation. He takes a multi-disciplinary approach to religious studies, engaging with a range of social sciences to understand how climate activists attempt to overcome social inertia. Drawing particularly on cultural sociology and the sociology of emotions, his work emphasises how climate activists attempt to socially perform climate change as a cultural trauma.
Matt has a longstanding personal interest in both religion and environmentalism. His master’s research in 2014 at King’s College London explored the ecclesiology of Fresh Expressions (part of the emerging church movement in the UK), and he became interested in environmental questions particularly through engagement with the ‘new monastic’ movement. He then worked for three years as a families and youth worker for the Church of England in Colchester, Essex, developing spaces for belonging, meditation and conversation around faith and community. During this time, Matt began electoral campaigning for the Green Party, and soon after XR UK launched in late 2018 he co-founded the local branch. In 2019, he moved to South-East London to conduct his PhD fieldwork with XR UK’s faith-based (Christian and Buddhist) and place-based groups, where he was also involved in a number of climate justice campaigns.
Now living in West Cumbria, he works as a youth worker in the remote and neglected villages of Frizington and Cleator Moor. He is involved with community engagement led by Cumbria Action for Sustainability, and volunteers in the EcoChurch team for local parish churches in the area. He is passionate about the need to connect questions of social and climate justice, developing collective action from the grassroots by working collaboratively between faith-based and secular organisations.