Although my interests are varied, I am fundamentally a biblical scholar and literary critic who works on the reception and impact of the Bible, particularly in the contexts of its influence on society, its handling by Pentecostals and Evangelicals globally and its interpretation in music and the arts. My PhD, in the field of biblical ethics, provoked my interest in the role of the Bible as a resource for moral thinking and led me to a lifelong fascination in why people think religion and sacred texts are so important to them in making lifestyle choices and how faith commitments impact our interactions with and contributions to society and the public and political spheres.
Recently this has resulted in many opportunities to reflect on the distinctive contribution that faith brings to leadership both in organisations and in civic life. I led the UK government’s pilot project for the professional development of religious leaders from 2019-20 and continue to work with UK government departments including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to promote the understanding of religion in policy-related contexts. At the same time I have advised and supported a variety of faith communities (particularly in the UK, India and Australia) on their political and social engagement strategies.
As an experienced academic project manager, I have led a variety of educational research and development projects for the University of Birmingham, including initiating what has since become our flagship interdisciplinary education activity, ‘The Birmingham Project’, where I was responsible for developing and sustaining the University’s relationships with major international businesses such as IBM, Jaguar LandRover, PwC and KPMG. I have managed funded research and engagement projects worth well over £2.5m, including a major, three-year AHRC-supported project, ‘Megachurches and Social Engagement in London’ (2013-16), which investigated the social engagement activities of some of the UK’s largest and most prominent churches.
I now combine leadership of the Cadbury Centre and public engagement work with directing the University of Birmingham’s Master of Public Administration in Faith-Based Leadership and MA in Religion, Politics and Society programmes, whilst continuing to write and teach on cultural-critical approaches to the Bible, contemporary forms of Christian worship and expression (most notably including Pentecostalism) and more recently on faith-based (especially but not only Evangelical Christian) engagement in the fields of culture and social and public policy.