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Dr Elisabeth Arweck

Dr Elisabeth Arweck

Principal Research Fellow
Department of Education Studies
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL

Phone: 024 765 28434


Elisabeth Arweck is a full-time principal research fellow in the Department of Education Studies. Between January 2004 and May 2006 she was a research fellow for CEDAR. She completed her PhD at King's College London in 1999 on the subject of New Religious Movements. The title of her thesis was 'Responses to New Religious Movements in Britain and Germany, with Special Reference to the Anti-Cult Movement and the Churches'. The thesis was mainly concerned with the social responses to new religions and sought to examine these in a general and comparative framework, using the UK and Germany to show similarity and contrast. The research was also informed by experience gained through work in the Centre for New Religions at King's College London, with which she was associated since the late 1980s until its closure in 2003.

She is a member of a number of international associations whose membership consists of scholars in sociology of religion and religious studies as well as educationalists of religion and values:

  • BSA & BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group
  • British Association for the Study of Religion (BASR)
  • Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR)
  • International Society for the Sociology of Religion (SISR/ISSR)
  • Religious Research Association (RRA)
  • Association for the Sociology of Religion (ASR)
  • Association of University Lecturers in Religious Education (AULRE)(until 2008)
  • International Seminar in Religions, Education and Values (ISREV)

She was Co-editor (until July 2011) and is now the Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Religion Journal of Contemporary Religion. This is an international journal, founded by Prof. Peter Clarke, which is concerned with the discussion and analysis of contemporary aspects of religion, focusing on significant trends, developments and processes in mainstream as well as non-mainstream forms of religious expression over the last few decades. The Journal also contains book reviews, book notes and review articles, which reflect the range of topics and issues in the study of religion.

She was Convenor of the BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group (2000-2003). In this capacity, she maintained links with similar organisations across the world, such as the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (SISR/ISSR) and Association Française de Sciences Sociales des Religions (AFSR). She is now (since 2005) a member of the SISR/ISSR Council.

Research Projects

Life Skills (April 2011–ongoing)

This project is part of a three-year project (2010–2012), under the direction of Prof. Geir Skeie at the University of Stockholm, on an emerging element in Swedish schools, called Livskunskap or ‘Life Skills’. The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council. One of the project’s component consists of looking at ‘Life Skills’ in international perspective, which includes comparison with germane curriculum elements in English community schools.

Young People’s Attitudes towards Religious Diversity (October 2009–September 2012)

This three-year project is funded by the Religion and Society Programme of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It is concerned with the factors that shape young people’s attitudes towards religious diversity, with data being collected across the UK through both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Investigating the Religious Identity Formation of Young People in Mixed-Faith Families (June 2006 - May 2009, extended until September 2009)

This three year project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). It focuses on the experience of families in which parents come from different faith backgrounds. It is looking at how young people in such families come to identify themselves in relation to their parents' religions and the factors that influence their own religious beliefs.

Assessing the Approach of Sathya Sai Baba's Followers to Young People's Spiritual and Moral Development (January-December 2003 extended until July 2004)

This one year project looked at Education in Human Values in the context of education within and outside mainstream schools. It was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB).

Fostering Spirituality in Late Modernity: Brahma Kumaris in the UK (2001-2002)

This project was concerned with the way in which spirituality is fostered in late modernity and explored this topic in relation to the Brahma Kumaris and their commitment to promoting spiritual development through Raja Yoga and Living Values. The project focused on the implications of such initiatives in education and educational theory. This one-year project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB).


Dr Arweck taught in two secondary schools for girls in inner London, has experience in teaching adult professionals on a one-to one basis as well as teaching under-graduates.

She teaches and supervises dissertations on the MA in Religions and Education by distance learning and supervises PhD dissertations.


2010 (with Eleanor Nesbitt) Young People’s Identity Formation in Mixed-Faith Families: Continuity or Discontinuity of Religious Traditions?, Journal of Contemporary Religion (forthcoming).

2009 (Editor, with Christopher Deacy) Exploring Religion and the Sacred in a Media Age (Ashgate).

2008 (with Eleanor Nesbitt) Peace and Non-Violence: Sathya Sai Education in Human Values in British schools. Journal of Peace Education 5 (1, March), 17 -32.

2007 Globalisation and New Religious Movements. In Religion, Globalization and Culture. Edited by Peter Beyer and Lori Beaman, Brill: 253–280.

2008 (with Eleanor Nesbitt) Spirituality in education: promoting children’s spiritual development through values, Journal of Contemporary Religion 22 (3), October, 311–326.

2006 Researching New Religious Movements in the West: Responses & Redefinitions (Routledge)

Arweck, Elisabeth (2000) 'Apologetik im Dialog mit neuen religiösen Bewegungen', in Hempelmann, R. & Dehn, U. (eds) Festschrift für Reinhart Hummel. Dialog und Unterscheidung: Religionen und neue religiöse Bewegungen im Gespräch, Berlin, EZW, pp31-40.

Full list of publications.

Recent Presentations


“The Role of Emotion in Mixed-Faith Families”, Second Meeting of the AHRC Network on Emotion, Identity and Religious Communities, University of Durham, 14–16 July 2009, Durham, UK.

“Young People in Mixed Faith Families: A Case of Knowledge and Experience of Two Traditions?”, BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group, annual conference on “Religion and Knowledge” 30 March–1 April, 2009, Durham, UK.

“Mixed-Faith Families: The Role of Parents in the Religious Identity Formation of their Children”, conference regarding project on “Investigating the Religious Identity Formation of Young People in Mixed-Faith Families”, 26 March 2009, Leamington Spa.

“Mixed-Faith Families: How Young People Perceive the Formation of their Religious Identities”, conference regarding project on “Investigating the Religious Identity Formation of Young People in Mixed-Faith Families”, 26 March 2009, Leamington Spa.

“Enrichment or Estrangement? How Young People in Mixed Faith Families see their Dual Heritage”, paper presented to the WRERU Seminar, 27 January 2009, University of Warwick.

Full list of presentations.