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Dr Norman Richardson MBE


Norman Richardson qualified as a teacher from Borough Road College, Isleworth, in 1969, later gaining a BEd degree at Stranmillis College, Belfast. In 1992 he completed a Master’s degree by research at Queen’s University Belfast on the topic of teaching controversial issues through Religious Education in Northern Ireland and was awarded a PhD by previous publication (“Religion, Cultural Diversity and Conflict: Challenging Education in Northern Ireland”) at Warwick in 2013.

Having initially taught Religious Education and Music to various age groups at schools in London and Belfast for some years, Norman went on to work for over a decade as Peace Education Officer with the ecumenical and cross-community Churches’ Peace Education Programme, based in the Irish Council of Churches, Belfast. Following three years as a Research Associate in the Queen’s University School of Education, he joined the staff of Stranmillis University College Belfast in 1997, where he has taught Religious Studies and intercultural education to student teachers. Having retired from full time work in 2014 he continues to contribute to a number of courses in Stranmillis and is also involved with various research projects in the UK and internationally.

Norman has had a long-standing involvement in community relations, inter-church and inter-religious activities. He has written and lectured regularly in the field of religious and cultural diversity in education and is a member of several local, national and international professional and academic bodies concerned with community relations education, inclusive religious education and inter-religious relations. He is a Professional Educational Associate of the NI Council for Integrated Education, a member of ISREV (the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values), of the Irish Centre for Religious Education (ICRE), a Board member and journal/newsletter editor of the European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education (EFTRE), an Executive member of the Association of University lecturers in Religion and Education (AULRE) and a Trustee of Christian Education. He is a former Secretary of the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum and is currently an Executive member and Trustee of the UK Inter-Faith Network.

He has written books on religious diversity in education, in relation to Christianity and other world religions, and has developed classroom resources to support work in inclusive religious education and related curriculum areas, particularly from the perspective of developing awareness of diversity and mutual understanding. In 1989 Norman was co-recipient of the Kohl International Peace Prize in Chicago, USA, for his work in educational community relations in Northern Ireland, and in 1999 was awarded an MBE for services to education and the community in Northern Ireland.

In addition to his academic roles Norman Richardson is a Licentiate of the Guildhall School of Music (LGSM) and is active in music-making as a singer, choir director, composer and arranger.

Research Interests

In recent years Norman’s research has focused on RE and diversity education in primary schools in Northern Ireland; on the experience of minority faith communities in relation to RE; on the RE conscience clause (‘opting out’); on faith-based education in relation to community separation and integration in Northern Ireland; and on collective worship in schools. He has a particular interest in the role of human rights in relation to religion in education and schooling.

Selected Publications


Richardson, N. (ed) (1998) A Tapestry of Beliefs: Christian Traditions in Northern Ireland, Belfast: Blackstaff Press

Richardson, N. & Gallagher, T. (eds/co-authors) (2011), Education for Diversity and Mutual Understanding: the Experience of Northern Ireland, Oxford: Peter Lang

Richardson, N. (2014) Sharing Religious Education: A brief introduction to the possibility of an inclusive approach to Religious Education in Northern Ireland, Birmingham: RE Today Services

Articles and Book Chapters:

Richardson, N (2008), ‘Faith Schooling: Implications for Teacher Educators – a Perspective from Northern Ireland’, in Journal of Beliefs & Values 29:1, April 2008

Richardson, N. (2010), ‘Rights and Religious Education in a Plural Northern Ireland’, in Tombs, D. (ed), Rights and Righteousness – Perspectives on religious pluralism and human rights, Belfast: Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in association with the Irish School of Ecumenics

Richardson, N. (2010), ‘Division, Diversity and Vision: Religious Education and Community Cohesion in Northern Ireland’, in Grimmitt, M. (ed), Religious Education and Social and Community Cohesion, Great Wakering: McCrimmons

Richardson, N., U. Niens, A. Mawhinney & Y. Chiba: (2013) ‘Opting Out or Opting In? Conscience clauses, minority belief communities and the possibility of inclusive religious education in Northern Ireland’. In British Journal of Religious Education: 35:3 (September 2013) (pp.236-250)

Richardson, N. (2013) ‘Media and Religious Conflict – Experiences from Northern Ireland’. In Pirner, L. & Lähnemann, J. (eds.), Media Power and Religions: The Challenge Facing Intercultural Dialogue and Learning, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang (pp.73-84).

Richardson, N. (2014) ‘Religious Education at schools in Northern Ireland’. In Rothgangel, M., Jackson, R. & Jäggle, M. (eds), Religious Education at Schools in Europe: Part 2 – Western Europe, Vienna: V & R Unipress

Richardson, N. (2015) ‘Issues and Dilemmas in Religious Education and Human Rights: Perspectives on applying the Toledo Guiding Principles to a divided society’. In Pirner, M., Lähnemann, J. & Bielefeldt, H. (eds), Menschenrechte und inter-religiöse Bildung. Berlin: EB-Verlag