Associate Professor of Religious Education
Effective 1st August 2019 James has been appointed Associate Professor of Religious Education at the University of Chester. This is a great honour and is the result of so many people supporting and helping James along the way. Family, friends, colleagues and students have all supported and inspired him so much. This appointment is a celebration of the importance of relationships- without them it wouldn’t have been possible.
Coincidentally the Knowledge and Research Transfer Office at the University have published James’ ‘Meet the Researcher’ poster.
Minority Voices available to watch online
Minority Voices in Religion
On 16th April James delivered the inaugural lecture of the “Lunchtime Lecture Series” at Storyhouse in Chester as part of the University of Chester’s Research Festival. His lecture focussed on his research surrounding the representation and importance of the minority religions in society and education. The research is to be published this autumn by the University of Chester Press. Responses from those in attendance included:
Thank you for such a brilliant lecture, very inspiring. Teachers need to be inspired and you did it!! 😊
Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology
On Saturday 16th March 2019 James is presenting a paper at the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology’s conference: “More Nations Than One: Theology, Culture, and Pluralism”. It will be at the University of Utah. His topic will focus on constructing a Latter-day Saint theology of religions. He will present virtually at 11am MST http://www.smpt.org/conferences_2019.html
Email a Believer
RE:Online has a section of its website dedicated to Email a Believer- here people are able to send questions about faith to followers of different faiths. They have just added The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to this endeavour, and James has been asked to be the ‘believer’. In this he will answer questions that are sent in, and will also write a blog once a month about aspects of his faith. Please give it a visit by clicking here.
Religious Education: Time for a rethink?
On 26th September James joined a panel on TRT’s Rountable programme about the place of RE in the curriculum and responses to the Commission on RE’s report
Research and RE
Culham St Gabriels Trust have established a hub of research in RE. This is a place where teachers and researchers can explore various aspects of current research in RE. This is a free resource and may be of interest.
The research around James’ current book project “Beyond the Big Six” (University of Chester Press, 2019) can be found on the site. http://researchforre.reonline.org.uk/research_report/do-new-religious-movements-have-a-place-in-the-secondary-r-e-classroom/?show_me=&about=&taxes=
You may have to register for free to view the various projects
What really matters about teacher education at Cathedrals Group universities published
James was part of the NICER project, What really matters about teacher education at Cathedrals Group universities, which sought to understand better how teacher education staff, partnership schools and student teachers perceived their teacher education institutions and programmes including specific reference to the Institution’s Christian foundation.
The data was collected between November 2016 and January 2018.
- To investigate why ITE trainees choose Christian foundation university teacher training programmes
- To investigate why schools choose Christian foundation universities as training programme partners
- To investigate what Christian foundation universities claim is particular to their Christian foundation, what is particularly or deeply Christian about their ITE provision
- To investigate what Christian foundation universities, ITE trainees and partnership schools claim about ITE trainees at the point of qualification, that is particular to the institutions’ Christian foundation.
The National Institute of Christian Education Research at Canterbury Christ Church University led the research project. The project took place over two years with a pilot and qualitative phase and a quantitative phase.
The research reports can be found here. Volume 2 includes the Case Study about the University of Chester written by James.
Beyond the Big Six: Expanding the boundaries of the RE Classroom
James is very excited to have been contracted by the University of Chester Press to write ‘Beyond the Big Six: Expanding the boundaries of the RE classroom’. This will outline the arguments to include religions and worldviews outside of the main six, but also to extend what we may include within the big six. Some chapters will also be introductions to religions and worldviews including Baha’i, Humanism, Ravidassia, Wicca, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Ahmadiyya, Sufism.
New book chapter to be published
This August Iron Man vs Captain America and Philosophy will be published by Open Court. The blurb highlights a chapter by James: “James Holt looks into the nature of God within Captain America’s world and how much this draws on the “previous life” of Captain Steve Rogers. Holt’s inquiry focuses on the God of Moses in the burning bush, as contrasted with David Hume’s understanding of religion.”
‘Big Ideas in Religious Education’ led by Barbara Wintersgill from the University of Exeter was published in November 2017. The aim of the project is to address issues concerning curriculum content selection, curriculum coherence and subject relevance in Religious Education (RE) in the 21st century by applying the theory of ‘Big Ideas’. The project, to which James was part of, identified of Principles and Big Ideas for RE, which can then be used as criteria for selecting and sequencing subject content.
Book Chapter Published
Learning to Teach Religious Education in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience (Learning to Teach Subjects in the Secondary School Series) 3rd Edition (Routledge, 2017) edited by L. Philip Barnes was published on 4 Sep 2017. This volume includes a brand new chapter not in the two previous editions about ‘Inclusion’ written by James. This explores issues of SEND in the RE classroom as well as representations of minority faiths.
The International Journal of Christianity and Education recently published a review of Religious Education in the Secondary School and a couple of excerpts can be found below:
Christianity, Education and Contemporary Culture:
International Conference – Canterbury Christ Church University, Friday 7 July – Sunday 9 July 2017
James will be delivering a paper on the Friday evening entitled: “Teaching ‘as one having authority’: Implications for a Christian Educator”
AML Award Winner
Julie Smith editor of Iron Sharpens Iron was awarded the 2016 AML award for Religious non-fiction. The AML congratulates Julie M Smith, Kofford Books, and all of the contributors [including James] for bringing new light, insight, and ideas to Mormon studies.
Religion and Nationhood
James has contributed to a new volume, edited by Brian Gates. This has recently been published – Religion and Nationhood: Insider and Outsider Perspectives on Religious Education in England. “This has the potential to make a valuable contribution to ongoing debates in RE.”
We are excited to be part the 2016 Association for Mormon Letters awards finalists in the Creative Non-fiction and Religious Non-fiction categories. The book is by Julie M. Smith, editor. As Iron Sharpens Iron: Listening to the Various Voices of Scripture. Greg Kofford Books. Contributors: Julie M Smith, Michael Austin, Mark T. Decker, Nicholas J. Frederick, Heather Hardy, Ronan James Head, James D. Holt, Jason A. Kerr, Jared Ludlow, Steven L. Peck, Joseph M. Spencer, Walter E. A. van Beek, Miranda Wilcox, Walker Wright, Benjamin Peters, and John Durham Peters.
In this unique volume, fictionalised dialogues between the various voices of scripture illustrate how these differences and disagreements are not flaws of the texts but are rather essential features of the canon. These creative dialogues include Abraham and Job debating the utility of suffering and our submission to God, Alma and Abinidi disagreeing on the place of justice in the Atonement, and the authors Mark and Luke discussing the role of women in Jesus’s ministry. It is by examining and embracing the different perspectives within the canon that readers are able to discover just how rich and invigorating the scriptures can be. The dialogues within this volume show how just as “iron sharpeneth iron,” so can we sharpen our own thoughts and beliefs as we engage not just the various voices in the scriptures but also the various voices within our community (Proverbs 27:17).
Church Universities’ Certificate in Anglican Church Schools Studies
From September the University of Chester will be running the Church Universities’ Certificate in Anglican Church Schools Studies. There is a level 7 postgraduate option for serving teachers and those who already have a degree. The level 7 Certificate will give someone 60 Master’s Credits that can be transferred into the Master’s Degree at the end.
The webpage is live now:
It will be 3 Saturdays for one year of study, or one Saturday per year for 3 years (and some outisde of University study).
Awards Evening at the Macclesfield Academy
On 20th July 2015 James was asked to present the prizes and speak at the Macclesfield Academy awards evening. James presented the inaugural James Holt Award for Spirituality. One of the high schools James attended was Henbury High School- a forerunner of the Macclesfield Academy. James spoke fondly of his time there and especially of his inspirational RE teacher; Ted Banks.
Meet the Mormons
On Tuesday 28th April James is a special invited guest panellist following a special screening of a 78 minute cinema movie called ‘Meet The Mormons’ followed by a short Q&A panel session. This event is for education and faith leaders in the York area. The cinematic film ‘Meet the Mormons’ reached the top 10 in the USA box office and examines the very diverse lives of six people – the humanitarian, coach, fighter, bishop, mum and candy bomber. The trailer can be viewed at www.meetthemormons.com It takes viewers on a journey into the day-to-day realities of individuals living in the U.S., Costa Rica, Nepal and beyond. From their individual passions to their daily struggles, each story paints a picture as rich and unique as the next while challenging the stereotypes.
The news is coming thick and fast this week!
James has been invited to speak at the forthcoming Education Week in July at the University of Oxford.
Education Weekend 2015: Oxford invites any who wish to experience the rich learning atmosphere of Oxford, England to immerse themselves in three days of information, discovery, and conversation. It invites any who wish to think about the world as it is, how it has been, and how it might be. It welcomes big ideas. It welcomes varieties of faith. It welcomes the Tradition of Enquiry.
Please join us for this interdisciplinary and interfaith conference that aims to exchange ideas on the theme “The Tradition of Enquiry: A Forum in Pursuit of Scholarly and Spiritual Learning.” A wide array of talks, seminar discussions, and small tutorials after the Oxford style of learning will be given by Oxford faculty and affiliate scholars of various disciplines and faiths.
Please visit traditionofenquiry.com for more details.
A book launch event hosted by the Faculty of Education at the University of Chester
Announcing the publication of Religious Education in the Secondary School. Now available at all good bookshops including Amazon. Don’t forget to leave a review