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Professor Robert Jackson

Emeritus Professor Robert Jackson BA MA PhD DLitt PGCE FAcSS

Department of Education Studies
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL



Professor Robert (Bob) Jackson was Director of WRERU from 1994 to 2012, and remains a member of WRERU at the University of Warwick, with the title Founding Director. He is a leading figure in international debates about religions and education in Europe and beyond. In 2016, he was appointed as Visiting Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Education at the University of Stockholm, Sweden. Professor Jackson is Expert Adviser to the European Wergeland Centre, a Council of Europe-related centre based in Oslo, specialising in intercultural, citizenship and human rights education. He was appointed as a Visiting Professorship at Oslo and Akershus University College from 2009 to 2012 in order to establish the European Wergeland Centre’s work on religious diversity and education.

Robert Jackson has been a leading contributor to the Council of Europe’s work on religious diversity and education since 2002. He was a member of the drafting team of the Council of Europe Ministerial policy recommendation on teaching about religions and beliefs (2008) and of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Toledo Guiding Principles on Teaching about Religions and Beliefs (2007). He contributed to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations programme on Education about Religions and Beliefs and spoke at the Alliance of Civilizations 2009 Istanbul Forum.

He is currently contributing to various Council of Europe projects, in particular, on the dissemination of the Council of Europe Ministerial Recommendation on the religious dimension of intercultural education. His book, Signposts: Policy and Practice for Teaching about Religions and Non-Religious Worldviews in Intercultural Education was published in 2014 by the Council of Europe to support policy makers, schools and teacher trainers across Europe in utilizing the recommendation. Signposts has already been translated into 12 European languages and Arabic, and more translations are in preparation. His latest book, Religious Education for Plural Societies: the Selected Works of Robert Jackson (2019) is published in Routledge’s World Library of Educationalists series.

He has taken a leading role in a range of research projects in Europe and the UK, including an EC Framework 6 project on religions, education, dialogue and conflict, involving 9 European Universities (REDCo). He spoke at the European Parliament on this project in December 2008. His UK-based research projects were for the main research councils (AHRC and ESRC), conducted as part of the large Religion and Society programme for which he was a member of the steering committee, the UK Government’s Department for Children, Schools and Families and various charities and trusts, including the Westhill Endowment Trust.

Robert Jackson’s book Rethinking Religious Education and Plurality: Issues in Diversity and Pedagogy was selected by the American Academy of Religion for discussion at its conference in San Antonio, Texas. In 2006, Robert Jackson was awarded a higher doctorate (DLitt) by the University of Wales for his contribution to international research in religions and education through his publications, and in 2010 was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

In 2013 he was presented with the William Rainey Harper award by the Religious Education Association (USA) and was given life membership of the REA. In the same year the Association of University Lecturers in Religious Education (AULRE) in the UK awarded him life membership of AULRE in recognition of his contribution to the subject. In 2017 he was awarded honorary doctorates from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, and from the Norwegian School of Theology (MF) in Oslo.

Robert Jackson belongs to a number of research networks in Europe and beyond, including:

  • International Seminar on Religious Education and Values (ISREV)
  • European Network for Religious Education through Contextual Approaches (ENRECA)
  • International Research Symposium on Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Education (IRE)
  • Co-ordinating Group for Religious Education in Europe (CoGREE)
  • International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR)
  • European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR)
  • The American Academy of Religion (AAR)
  • The Signposts International Research Network (SIRN)

International Profile

Robert Jackson speaks regularly at international conferences. In recent years, he has spoken in Australia (Brisbane [ACU], Melbourne (Monash and Deakin); Austria (Vienna [OSCE; University of Vienna]; Wels [Council of Europe]; Belgium (Brussels [European Parliament]; Bruges [EFTRE]); Canada (University of Toronto; Calgary University; Montreal [McGill University]; Ottawa [ISREV]); Denmark (Odense); Estonia (Tartu University; Tallin]); Finland [University of Helsinki; University of Eastern Finland]; France (Strasbourg, Paris [Council of Europe; IESR]); Klingenthal [REDCo; ICCS]); Germany (Berlin [CoGREE], Bremen [EASR], Hamburg [REDCo], Hannover (Herrenhausen); Greece (Athens [Council of Europe]); Iceland (Reykjavik); Indonesia (Makassar University[Oslo Coalition]); Italy (Perugia University [OSCE]); Japan (Tokyo [Taisho & Aoyama Universities]); Republic of Korea (Seoul [Sogang University]); Morocco (Rabat); the Netherlands (Leeuwarden [IRE], Driebergen [ISREV], Utrecht [ENRECA]); Norway (Stavanger University, Oslo [Nobel Institute; Norwegian University of Theology MF, Oslo; University of Oslo, European Wergeland Centre, Oslo Metropolitan University), Kristiansand University, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim; Bergen University); Poland (Krakow [British Council]; the Russian Federation (Nizhniy Novgorod [Council of Europe]; St Petersburg [REDCo and Council of Europe]); South Africa (Cape Town and Stellenbosch Universities [IRE], Durban [IAHR]; Spain (Granada University [REDCo], Toledo and Madrid [OSCE]), University of Murcia; Sweden (Lund University; Karlstad University; Stockholm University; Södertörn University); Turkey (Istanbul [ISAV; United Nations AoC]); and the USA (Schenectady [ISREV], San Antonio, Atlanta [AAR], Chicago [ISREV]).

Robert Jackson is an Editor of the Waxmann book series Religious Diversity and Education in Europe (published in Germany). He was Editor of the British Journal of Religious Education, the main English Language international research journal in the field, for 15 years, from 1996-2011. He serves on the editorial boards of several international journals, including:

  • British Journal of Religious Education
  • Religion & Education (USA)
  • International Journal of Children's Spirituality
  • Journal of Religious Education (Australia)
  • Fieldwork in Religion
  • Intercultural Education
  • Discourse and Communication for Sustainable Education

On November 9, 2013, Robert (Bob) Jackson was presented with the William Rainey Harper Award by Professor Chuck Foster, Chair of the Harper Award Committee, following laudations by Professors David Lankshear, Ina ter Avest and Bert Roebben.


The Harper Award ceremony took place at the Religious Education Association (REA) banquet at the REA conference held in Boston, USA.

The Harper Award is presented ‘to outstanding leaders whose work in other fields has had profound impact upon religious education’. Bob Jackson was only the 12th person to receive the international award since its launch in 1975, and he joined the ranks of Marshall McLuhan, Margaret Mead and Paulo Freire. Professor Jackson was also awarded Life Membership of the Religious Education Association.

In September 2016, Robert Jackson was inaugurated, in Stockholm City Hall, as a Visiting Professor at Stockholm University.


Professor Apostolis Papakostas thanking Professor Robert Jackson for delivering the 13th annual Södertörn Lecture at Södertörn University, Stockholm, Tuesday 29 November 2016.


Professor Robert Jackson and Professor Jenny Berglund, Inauguration of new Professors, Stockholm City Hall, September 30, 2016


Bob Jackson playing with a Swedish jazz trio after the 2016 Södertörn Lecture - see

RJ Hanover

Professor Robert Jackson giving a keynote lecture at 'Religious Pluralisation – A Challenge for Modern Societies' October 4-6, 2016, Hannover, Germany, Herrenhausen Conference organised by The Academy of World Religions, Hamburg University.

Norwegian University of Science and Technology Graduation 10 March 2017

Robert Jackson NUST

Presentation of honorary doctorate to Professor Robert Jackson by the Vice Chancellor of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Professor Gunnar Bovim, 10 March 2017.

Graduation Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Norwegian University of Science and Technology graduation, 10 March 2017, all PhD students, plus senior staff and the two recipients of honorary doctorates.


Some of his academic publications have been translated into Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian, and the Warwick RE Project curriculum books have been translated into Japanese and published in DVD format.

Council of Europe and the European Wergeland Centre

Professor Jackson has been involved in the Council of Europe’s work on Religions and Education since it first moved into this field in 2002. His role includes contributions to the Council’s work on teaching about religions, intercultural education and citizenship. At the request of the Director of DGIV, he undertook a feasibility study for a European Centre for Human Rights Education, incorporating citizenship education and education about religious diversity. He presented the study to the Steering Committee for Education (ministerial representatives from the 47 states) in Strasbourg. The Centre proposal was taken up by the Norwegian authorities and the European Wergeland Centre was inaugurated in Oslo in May 2009. Robert Jackson was invited to become its first Professor, holding a Visiting Professorship at Oslo and Akershus University College, where the Centre was first located. He participated in the 10th anniversary conference of the European Wergeland Centre in Oslo in November 2018.

Professor Jackson was Vice Chair of a committee working on the dissemination of the Recommendation(Word Document) from the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers on teaching about religions and beliefs in the context of intercultural education across Europe. On behalf of the Joint Implementation Committee of the Council of Europe and the European Wergeland Centre, he wrote a book for policy makers, schools and teacher educators across Europe about using the Recommendation as a tool for developing intercultural education in member states. Entitled Signposts: Policy and Practice for Teaching about Religions and Non-Religious Worldviews in Intercultural Education, the book was published by Council of Europe Publishing in August 2014.


Left to right, Villano Qiriazi, Head of Education Policy, Council of Europe; Robert Jackson, Expert on Religious Diversity and Education and author of Signposts; Peter Schreiner, Expert on Religious Diversity and Education; Matthew Johnson, Director, Directorate of Democratic Citizenship and Participation, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, October 2016. (Photo ®LeoJanssenFoto)

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe: Toledo Guiding Principles on Teaching about Religions and Beliefs

During 2007, Professor Jackson worked with a team of international lawyers, educators and social scientists in Toledo (May) and Vienna (July) on international guiding principles for teaching about religions and beliefs. The work was done for the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe [OSCE] (56 participant countries including most European states plus the USA and Canada). Professor Jackson spoke at the launch (Image file) of the ‘Toledo Guiding Principles’ in Madrid on November 28, 2007. In December 2010 Professor Jackson moderated a debate on education about religion and belief at the OSCE in Vienna between Professor Heinar Bielefeldt, United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of Holy See to the United Nations.

Other International Organisations

Professor Jackson’s contributions to the work of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief’s ‘Teaching for Tolerance’ project include a keynote lecture at the Nobel Institute in Oslo in 2004, and contributions to the coalition’s work in Indonesia. In January 2007 Professor Jackson worked in Makassar, Sulawesi, with Muslim and Christian scholars from different parts of Indonesia on issues in teaching about religious diversity. With Ursula McKenna, he edited Intercultural Education and Religious Plurality, published by the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief (2005).

Between 2009 and 2012, Professor Jackson served as a member of the Comité d’Orientation Scientifique of the Institut Europėen en Sciences des Religions (IESR), at the Ėcole Pratique des Hautes Ėtudes, Sorbonne, Paris. Directed by Professor Jean-Paul Willaime, and subsequently by Professor Isabelle St. Martin, the IESR conducts research and policy studies on teaching about religions within the French educational system, and on wider issues of religion and education in Europe.

Professor Jackson is an adviser to the University of Vienna’s RELEDU project on documenting religious education systems across Europe and he is co-editor of the volume on Western Europe (2014). He is on the advisory board of projects conducted by the Academy of World Religions at Hamburg University, and of the Research Unit for Public Religion and Education (RUPRE) based at the University of Nuremberg. He was invited to deliver the annual Södertörn lecture at Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden in November 2016.

Professor Jackson is an Adviser to the Centre for Civic Religious Literacy in Canada He is a Co-Researcher on the Australian Research Council (ARC) project ‘Young Australians' Perspectives on Religions and Non-Religious Worldviews’, Monash University, Melbourne, directed by Prof Mary Louise Rasmussen and Partner Investigator on the Australian Research Council (ARC) project ‘Religious Diversity in Australia: Strategies to Maintain Social Cohesion’ based at the University of Tasmania’, directed by Professor Douglas Ezzy.

Religion and Society

Professor Robert Jackson served on the Steering Committee of the extensive AHRC and ESRC research programme on Religion and Society and gave the after dinner speech following the last meeting of the Steering Committee at the British Museum in November 2012. The programme included over 75 research projects, one of the largest being a study of Young People's Attitudes to Religious Diversity across the UK conducted at Warwick and directed by Professor Jackson.

Empirical Research Projects

Robert Jackson has directed empirical qualitative and qualitative/quantitative research projects funded by the European Commission, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy and various charities including the Leverhulme Trust, the All Saints Educational Trust and the Westhill Endowment Trust. Funded research has included projects on the religious upbringing of children in Britain from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, on new religious movements and values education and on various aspects of teaching and learning in religious education, intercultural education and citizenship education, plus research on children’s dialogue, young people’s attitudes to religious diversity and collaborative action research by a community of practice. Evaluation research has included work on inter faith dialogue in primary schools, and evaluation of the international Face to Faith programme organised
by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

Empirical research projects include:

  • REDCo a major three year mixed methods European project on religious education and social cohesion funded by the European Commission Framework 6 programme and based in nine European Universities (with a follow up quantitative study 2012-2013).
  • 'Materials used to Teach about World Religions in Schools in England', a large scale mixed methods study for the UK Government's Department for Children, Schools and Families.
  • Warwick Community of Practice: a group of 8 researchers engaging in individual studies relating to the interpretive approach, using an action research methodology. The project was funded by the Westhill Endowment Trust and contributed to the EC REDCo project.
  • 'Evaluation of Building E-Bridges: Interfaith dialogue using ICT in Primary Schools'
  • Evaluation of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation ‘Face to Faith’ Project.
  • ‘Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity’, a large scale mixed methods study conducted as part of the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme, including qualitative studies with young people in schools in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and London as a special case, plus a survey of 12,000 13-15 year olds across the nations of the United Kingdom.


Professor Jackson writes on religious education theory, religions, pluralism and education, the politics of religious education in plural societies, research in religious education, curriculum development and ethnography, faith-based education, policy and practice concerning the religious dimension of intercultural education, and the relationship between religious education other fields concerned with values, such as intercultural and citizenship education.

His books include:

Jackson R. (2019) Religious Education for Plural Societies: The Selected Works of Robert Jackson, World Library of Educationalists Series, London: Routledge.

Jackson, R. (2014) ‘Signposts’: Policy and Practice for Teaching about Religions and Non-Religious Worldviews in Intercultural Education, Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Rothgangel M., Jackson R. and Jäggle M. (eds.) (2014), Religious Education at Schools in Europe. Volume 2: Western Europe (Wiener Forum für Theologie und Religionswissenschaft, Band 10.2), Göttingen: Vienna University Press/V&R unipress.

Arweck, E. and Jackson, R. (Eds.) (2014) Religion, Education and Society: Young People, Religious Identity, Socialisation and Diversity, London: Routledge.

Jackson, R. (Ed.) (2012) Religion, Education, Dialogue and Conflict: Perspectives on Religious Education Research, London: Routledge.

Jackson, R., Ipgrave, J., Hayward, M., Hopkins, P., Fancourt, N., Robbins, M., Francis, L. J. and McKenna, U. (2010) Materials used to Teach about World Religions in Schools in England, London: Department for Children, Families and Schools.

Ipgrave, J., Jackson, R. & O’Grady, K. (Eds) (2009) Religious Education Research through a Community of Practice: Action Research and the Interpretive Approach, Münster, Waxmann.

McKenna, U. Ipgrave, J. & Jackson, R. (2008) Inter Faith Dialogue by Email in Primary Schools: An Evaluation of the Building E-Bridges Project, Münster, Waxmann.

Jackson, R. and Fujiwara, S. (Eds.) (2008), Peace Education and Religious Plurality: International Perspectives, London, Routledge.

Jackson, R. Miedema, S. Weisse, W. & Willaime, J.-P. (eds.) (2007) Religion and Education in Europe: Developments, Contexts and Debates, Münster, Waxmann.

de Souza, M., Engebretson, K., Durka, G., Jackson, R., McGrady, A., (Eds). (2006). International Handbook of the Religious, Moral and Spiritual Dimensions of Education. (2 Vols) Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Academic Publishers.

Jackson, R. and McKenna, U. (eds) (2005) Intercultural Education and Religious Plurality, University of Oslo, Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Jackson, R. (2005) Din Egitimi: YorumlayýcýBirYaklaþým. Istanbul, Deðerler Eðitimi Merkezi Yayýnlarý (Istanbul, DEM Publishing), (Turkish translation of Religious Education: An Interpretive Approach)

Jackson, R. (2004) Rethinking Religious Education and Plurality: Issues in Diversity and Pedagogy, London, RoutledgeFalmer.

Jackson, R. (ed) (2003) International Perspectives on Citizenship, Education and Religious Diversity, London, RoutledgeFalmer.

Jackson, R. (1997) Religious Education: An Interpretive Approach, London, Hodder and Stoughton.

Jackson, R., Barratt, M. and Everington, J. (1994) Bridges to Religions: Teacher’s Resource Book, Oxford, Heinemann.

Jackson, R. and Nesbitt, E. (1993) Hindu Children in Britain, Stoke on Trent, Trentham.

Jackson, R & Killingley, D. (1991) Moral Issues in the Hindu Tradition, Stoke on Trent, Trentham Books. ISBN 0-948080-50-7

Jackson, R. and Starkings, D. (eds) (1990) The Junior RE Handbook, Cheltenham, Stanley Thornes.

Jackson, R. and Nesbitt, E. (1990) Listening to Hindus, London, Unwin Hyman. 0-0444-8121-7

Jackson, R. (1989) Religions Through Festivals: Hinduism, London, Longman. ISBN: 0-582-31788-6

Jackson, R & Killingley, D. (1988) Approaches to Hinduism, London, John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-4362-2

Jackson, R (Ed.) (1982) Approaching World Religions (ed), London, John Murray ISBN 0-7195-3913-7

Jackson, R. and Kanitkar, H. A. (1982), Hindus in Britain, London, University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies.

Jackson, R (Ed.) (1978) Perspectives on World Religions (ed), London, University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies.

Publications in Honour of Robert Jackson

The American journal Religion & Education published a special issue dedicated to the work of Robert Jackson in 2013, Vol. 40, number 1. The articles are all written by former doctoral students of Professor Jackson. A much expanded version of the special issue was published as Religion in Education: Innovation in International Research, edited by Joyce Miller, Kevin O’Grady and Ursula McKenna, New York and London, Routledge (2013). The Empirical Science of Religious Education (Routledge 2016), edited by Mandy Robbins and Leslie Francis, is a tribute to Robert Jackson’s Editorship of the British Journal of Religious Education, and includes a collection of innovative articles on empirical research in religious education which he published during his fifteen year career as editor.

Full list of publications

Curriculum Development Project

Professor Jackson was co-director (with Judith Everington) of the Warwick RE Project which, in the 1990s produced the 'Bridges to Religions' and ‘Interpreting Religions’ curriculum series.


Bob Jackson is also a jazz musician and he plays trombone and sings with Spicy Jazz.

In 2011 Bob was invited to be one of 12 Patrons of the Humphrey Lyttelton Trust (working to support young, talented jazz musicians in the UK) (Patrons: Barry Cryer OBE, Keith Stewart, Charlie Watts, Lady Annabel Portsmouth, Sir Michael Knight, Pete Townshend, Steve Voce, Stacey Kent, Nick Caulkin, Lord William Waldegrave, Professor Bob Jackson, Jeremy Hardy).

More about jazz at Warwick can be read at:


Robert Jackson and Dermot Killingley have published a joint book of their poetry – Narrowboat Music: Poems of Life(PDF Document) (Grevatt & Grevatt, 2015). The book includes poems by Bob in memory of Religious Education Researchers John Hull, Terence Copley and Pille Valk. Eleanor Nesbitt’s preface says:

In her poem ‘Rising Damp’, the poet U. A. Fanthorpe memorably evoked the hidden, culverted rivers flowing under London. This image has come to my mind of recent years as a number of my colleagues in the fields of Religious Studies, Religious Education and Theology have come out as poets, sometimes after decades of being crypto-poets. This new collection is a confluence of poetry by two of my colleagues, Bob Jackson and Dermot Killingley…

Dermot’s and Bob’s previous ventures in co-authorship (in prose) produced significant contributions to the literature for educationists on Hindus and their tradition. I hope that Narrowboat Music brings them new friends, brings pleasure to old friends and encourages their readers to experiment with new genres.

Both joint authorship and genre-switching are venerable traditions in English literature. Jackson and Killingley 2015 brings you Dermot’s and Bob’s intertextual agility and their keen ear for different Englishes, as well as reminders of love and friendship and of life’s richness and fragility.

Narrowboat Music is available from Grevatt & Grevatt via and all proceeds go to the S.Y.Killingley Memorial Trust, which gives grants to part-time students in the arts and humanities in the North-East of England.


Professor Robert Jackson awarded an honorary doctorate by the Norwegian University of science and technology in Trondheim

Details of William Rainey Harper award, and of the presentation of this award to Professor Jackson are available at:

Professor Jackson's lecture at The Future of Religious Education conference at held at the University of Worcester June 2013

A webcast of an interview with Robert Jackson about the interpretive approach is available here(Audio clip)

A brief summary of Religious Education: An Interpretive Approach can be found here

Robert Jackson’s keynote lecture at the religion and society conference is now a podcast

Robert Jackson's paper 'Educational responses to Brexit'(Word Document)