Tom Harrison

Doctoral Researcher

Current Status

Second Year, Part Time

Research Topic

How does the Internet influence the character virtues of 11-14 year olds in England? 

Research Summary

The Internet is the fastest growing new technology in history, but little is known about the impact it is having on individuals and societies. Despite a growing body of literature focusing on the influence of the Internet, there is a dearth of research on how it may be changing the character and virtues of young people. Debates about what affects the Internet is having on young people are polarised. Critics point to the negative impact of the Internet, and issues such as cyber-bulling, increased access to pornography, safety and consumerism have all been the subject of recent reports and books (see Byron, 2008; Turkle, 2011; James, 2009). Others (see Palfrey and Gasser, 2008; Tapscott, 1998; Katz, 1997; Loader,2007) have championed the Internet and argue that it is not only good for young people, but also for the wider society. Most current literature focuses on the cultural, economic, social and psychological impact of the Internet. This thesis focuses on the influence the Internet is having on young people’s character virtues. The study will demonstrate why this important and as yet largely un-researched issue deserves scholarly attention. 

Research Interests 

  • Citizenship Education 
  • Character Formation and Virtues
  • Civic Engagement
  • Volunteering and Character

Research Supervisor

Professor James Arthur


Self Funded

Membership of Research and Professional Organisations

  • Founder and Director – VESL (volunteering charity)
  • Director of Teaching and Learning– Learning for Life
  • Director Cross Curricula and Community strands – citizED
  • Trustee – Character Education Scotland


Harrison, T (2011) Assessing Citizenship; Challenges and Opportunities in Arthur, J. and Cremin, H. (eds) Citizenship Education (forthcoming), London, Routledge

Harrison, T. Cremin, H., Warwick, P. Mason, C (2011) Engaging Practice; Engaging Young Citizens for Disadvantaged communities, London, CSV

Harrison, T. (2010) A Curriculum full of Character; Developing Character Education in the classroom, culture and community of a school in Arthur, J (eds) Citizens of Character, Exeter, Imprint Academic

Harrison, T. (2010) Volunteering and Character, University of Birmingham

Cremin, H., Harrison, T., Warwick, P. Mason, C (2009), Building Voice, Civic Action and Learning; What can we learn from young people living in socio-economically disadvantaged communities?, University of Leicester and University of Cambridge

Harrison, T., and Hayes, A. (2009) Global Citizens; Effects on attitudes and practice of teachers undertaking voluntary projects overseas, VESL, Manchester

Harrison, T. (2009) Working Together; schools and the voluntary sector, Canterbury, citizED

Harrison, T. (2009) Citizenship Education and the Learning Outside the classroom manifesto, Canterbury, citizED

Harrison, T. (2008) Citizenship Education and Community Involvement, Canterbury, citizED 

Recent Research Projects / Roles

2011 - Co-PI, My Character Project, University of Birmingham

2009- 2011 Programme Director, Engaged Project, University of Cambridge

2008-2010 Tutor, Citizenship Education Masters Programme, University of Leicester

2008- Visiting lecturer, University of Northampton

Recent Papers

Harrison, T. (March 2011) Active Citizenship, Koyoto Institute of Education, Japan

Cremin, H. and Harrison, T. (March, 2011) New directions for civic voice, action and learning, University of Cambridge, England

Harrison, T. and Warwick, P. (January 2011) Revitalising schools and communities: sharing research on building voice, civic action and learning, University of Leicester, England

Harrison, T. and Warwick, P. (July 2010) Citizenship Education as creative engagement: Discovering a pedagogy that fits, University of St Andrews, Scotland

Harrison, T (July 2010) Citizenship Education, Best when assessed?, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong

Harrison, T (April 2008) Thinking Outside the School Box, Citizenship Education in a Community Context, University of Sydney, Australia

Contact Details