Professor Tom Harrison

Professor Tom Harrison

School of Education
Professor of Education and Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor: Education Innovation
Director: Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues

Contact details

The School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Professor Tom Harrison is the Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for Education Innovation at the University of Birmingham.  He is also the Director  of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues.  Tom is an HEA Principal Fellow and National Teaching Fellow and Secretary and Trustee for the Society for Educational Studies (SES).

Tom Harrison’s specialist interests are innovation in education, character education, graduate attributes and digital-wisdom. Tom researches, publishes and gives presentations in the UK and Internationally on these topics as well as developing resources and training programmes for schools, voluntary sector and other organisations. His most recent book is Thrive – how to cultivate character so your children can flourish online won the IFFD Global Award.


  • PhD, School of Education, University of Birmingham
  • Principle Fellow, HEA
  • National Teaching Fellow
  • PGCert in Academic Practice 


Professor Tom Harrison has spent most of his career working in higher education and the not for profit sectors running educational programmes. Most recently Tom has managed projects on behalf of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, School of Education and the University of Birmingham that have had both a national and international impact. He founded and was the Programme Director for six years of the MA in Character Education.  He also co-founded the Association for Character Education and the European Character Virtues Association.  In recent years Tom has been PI on projects funded by the Nuffield Foundation, Department for Education, Templeton World Charity Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation. 

Previous to joining the University, Tom worked for a number of charities and ran character education and citizenship education programmes. 


Postgraduate supervision

Tom supervises a number of students and his research interests include:

  • Character
  • Virtue
  • Citizenship
  • Cyber-phronesis
  • Youth social action

Doctoral research

PhD title
The Influence of the Internet on the character virtues of 11-14 year olds in England. 


Current Research

  • Principle Investigator – Newswise in Primary Education (Funded by the Nuffield Foundation)
  • Principle Investigator – GICD Character Education Platform (Funded by the TWCF)

Previous Research

  • Principle Investigator – Teaching Character Through Subjects (Funded by the Department for Education)
  • Principle Investigator – Cultivating Cyber-wisdom in Children and Young People
  • Principle Investigator – Teaching Videos in Distance Learning
  • Principle Investigator – Teaching Character, University of Birmingham. (Funded by the department of Education)
  • Co-Principle Investigator -  Habits of Service 
  • Co-Principle Investigator - Character, Practical Wisdom and Professional Education
  • 2015 - Principle Investigator – Building Character Through Youth Social Action - University of Birmingham 
  • 2015 - Principle Investigator –  - University of Birmingham 
  • 2012 - Co-Principal investigator, Knightly Virtues, University of Birmingham
  • 2011 - Co-Principal Investigator, My Character Project, University of Birmingham 
  • 2009- 2011 Programme Director, Engaged Project, University of Cambridge
  • 2009 - Co-Principal Investigator, Global Citizens, VESL 

Other activities

Host of the Conversations on Character Podcast

UK National Board Member for Educational Review

Grant reviewer for Newton Fund, John Templeton Foundation and Templeton World Charity Foundation

Secretary and Trustee – Association of Character Education (ACE) 

Books editor for the British Journal for Educational Studies. (BJES) 

Secretary and Trustee – Society for Educational Studies 

National Teaching Fellow – 2018

Birmingham Education Fellow – 2017

Principle Fellow – Higher Education Futures Institute 

Fellow – Higher Education Futures Institute (HEFi)

Academic Lead – What is Character; Virtue Ethics in Education MOOC

Governor – Bonsall Primary School


Recent publications


Fernández, V, Harrison, T, Kristjansson, K & Bernhard, R (eds) 2024, Character Education in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities. McGraw Hill.

Harrison, T, Polizzi, G, Murfin, S & Peachey, L 2022, Futureproof: A comprehensive framework for teaching digital citizenship in schools. John Catt. <>

Harrison, T 2021, THRIVE: How to cultivate character so your children can flourish online. Hachette UK, London. <>


McLoughlin, S, Polizzi, F, Harrison, T, Moller, F, Maile, A, Picton, I & Clark, C 2023, 'Measuring Civic Engagement in Young Children', Journal of psychoeducational assessment.

Harrison, T, Polizzi, G, Mcloughlin, S & Moller, F 2023, 'Measuring cyber wisdom: preliminary validation of a new four-component measure', Education and Information Technologies.

Harrison, T 2023, 'Virtual Reality and Character Education: Learning Opportunities and Risks', Journal of Moral Education.

Harrison, T, Dineen, K & Moller, F 2022, 'Tests of life or life of tests? similarities and differences in parents’ and teachers’ prioritisation of character, academic attainment, the virtues and moral theories', Journal of Beliefs and Values, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 137-158.

Harrison, T & Laco, D 2022, 'Where’s the character education in online higher education? Constructivism, virtue ethics and roles of online educators', E-Learning and Digital Media, vol. 19, no. 6, pp. 555-573.

Polizzi, F & Harrison, T 2022, 'Wisdom in the digital age: a conceptual and practical framework for understanding and cultivating cyber-wisdom', Ethics and Information Technology, vol. 24, no. 1, 16.

Harrison, T & Polizzi, F 2021, '(In)civility and adolescents’ moral decision making online: drawing on moral theory to advance digital citizenship education', Education and Information Technologies.

Harrison, T 2021, 'A new educational model for online flourishing: a pragmatic approach to integrating moral theory for cyber-flourishing', Pastoral Care in Education.


Brooks , E & Harrison, T 2023, Character Development in Higher Education. in MD Matthews & RM Lerner (eds), The Routledge International Handbook of Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Character Development, Volume I: Conceptualizing and Defining Character. 1st edn, Routledge International Handbooks, Routledge, pp. 174-186.

Harrison, T & Polizzi, F 2023, Cyber-wisdom education: Integrating moral theory to tackle online harms. in ANM Leung, KKS Chan, CSM Ng & JC-K Lee (eds), Cyberbullying and Values Education: Implications for Family and School Education. 1st edn, Routledge Series on Life and Values Education, Routledge, pp. 142-155.

Arthur, J & Harrison, T 2022, Service-Learning, character education and spiritualy in a Catholic University. in MB Isola & L Gherlone (eds), Spirituality and Higher Education: Perspectives from Service-Learning . 1st adapted edn, UNISERVITATE Collection, vol. 3, CLAYSS, pp. 135-153. <>

Other report

Harrison, T, Polizzi, F & McLoughlin, S 2024, Educating and Measuring News Literacy and Civic Engagement in 9- to 11-year-olds. Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham. <>

View all publications in research portal


Character, virtue ethics, youth social action, citizenship, character and the internet

Media experience

Tom has been interviewed numerous times about digital wisdom and character education for local and national radio programmes. He has written articles for the TES, Conversation, Huffington Post and been quoted in national and local newspapers.  Tom was also a guest on the BBC Radio 4 Bringing up Britain programme about character

Policy experience

Tom has advised the Department for Education and Ofsted on Character Education.  This includes attending Ministerial round-tables, advising on DfE events and activities, presenting to DfE staff and being an advisor on a national character education survey.  He also received funding from the DfE to conduct a programme of research looking at how character can be taught through and within subjects.  Tom was the academic advisor for the Prince William award.