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Staff Profile

Professor Julian Stern

Professor of Education and Religion

I came to York St John University in August 2008 as Dean of the Faculty of Education & Theology. Born and brought up in Hull, I qualified at the Royal Academy of Music, Oxford University, Leicester University School of Education, and the Institute of Education, London. I was a school teacher in the South of England for fourteen years, and worked in universities for sixteen years prior to coming to York St John University. I have worked at the Institute of Education, London, the Open University, Brunel University, and the University of Hull.

I am also General Secretary of ISREV, the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values, working with 250 senior researchers across 36 countries) and am on the editorial boards of the British Journal of Religious Education, the Religious Education Journal of Australia, the Journal for the Study of Spirituality, and Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives. I am the Deputy Chair of the Diocese of York Board of Education, and am a Director and Trustee of the Centre for Global Education, York.


I have taught a wide range of subjects to school students from 11-18 and undergraduate, postgraduate and research students in several universities. I have supervised or co-supervised eight doctoral students to a successful completion (Jonathan Smith on spirituality in police training, Wong Ping Ho on spirituality in Hong Kong education, Michèle Crichton on the myth of inclusion, Nick Owen on creative schooling, Gary Wilkinson on professionalism, Yee-Ling Ng on teaching spirituality, Maria James on theopraxis, and Joy Schmack on curriculum Judaism), and have examined for six universities a further nine doctorates (Sanjay Nadkarni, Carolyn Rhodes, Jarallah Abdulaziz Al-Buraidi, Richard Baker, Susan Williamson, Bob Bowie, Laurence Moscrop, Denise Cush, and Christopher Sexton). I am currently the lead supervisor for Jane Hunter’s PhD (on learning communities in the army). I also supervise a further four PhD students: Julie Pearson (on teachers' capacity for critical emancipatory thinking and practices), Alex Sinclair (on an epistemology of symbiotic practice), Margaret Meredith (on social enterprise education and the promotion of a fair and equitable social order), Alma Mason (on how a community organisation can promote wellbeing), and Colin O’Connor (on supporting former offenders). I also contribute to teaching on the PGCE Secondary Religious Education programme and a number of other programmes.


My current research is on religious education, loneliness and solitude, virtuous educational research, and the philosophy of schooling.

I have written thirteen books and several dozen articles for trainee teachers, experienced teachers, and teacher trainers. Recent books include Virtuous Educational Research: Conversations on Ethical Practice (2016), Loneliness and Solitude in Education: How to Value Individuality and Create an Enstatic School (2014), The Spirit of the School (2009), Schools and Religions: Imagining the Real (2007), Teaching Religious Education: Researchers in the Classroom (2006), and Involving Parents (2003).


Stern, L J (2018) ‘Loneliness in Education: The Agony and the Enstasy’, in Sagan, O and Miller, E D (eds) (2018) Narratives of Loneliness: Multidisciplinary Perspectives from the 21st Century [Explorations in Mental Health]; London: Routledge, chapter 10, pp 113-123.

Stern, L J (2018) ‘Missing Solitude: Macmurray, Buber and the Edges of Personalism’, in Castriota, A and Smith, S (eds) (2018) Looking at the Sun: New Writings in Modern Personalism; Wilmington, Delaware: Vernon Press, pp 157-172.

Stern, L J (2017) Can I Tell You About Loneliness?: A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals; London: Jessica Kingsley.

Stern, L J (2017) contributor to Barbara Wintersgill (ed) (2017) Big Ideas for Religious Education; Exeter: University of Exeter.

Stern, L J (2017) ‘Using Computers to Teach Religious Education’, in Barnes, L P (ed) (2017) Learning to Teach Religious Education in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience: Third Edition; Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge, chapter 12. 

Stern, L J (2017) ‘The Assessment of Ethics and the Ethics of Assessment’, chapter 9 in Franck, O (ed) (2017) Assessment in Ethics Education: A Case of National Tests in Religious Education; Cham, Switzerland: Springer, pp 177-191.

Stern, L J (2017) ‘Religion and Schooling in Conversation’, Research in Education, 97:1, pp 16-26.

Stern, L J (2017) ‘Avoiding Schooling Taboos: A Reply to Rasmussen’, Research in Education, 97:1, pp 30-32.

Stern, L J (2016) ‘Personalism and the Personal in Higher Education Research’, in McNiff, J (ed) Values and Virtues in Higher Education Research: Critical Perspectives; Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge, chapter 4, pp 64-77.

Stern, L J (2016) ‘Solitude and Spirituality in Schooling: The Alternative at the Heart of the School, in Lees, H E and Noddings, N (eds) The Palgrave International Handbook of Alternative Education; Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, chapter 28, pp 431-445.

Stern, L J (2016) ‘Macmurray and Fear: Tackling Hobbes’ Twin’, The John Macmurray Fellowship Newsletter, 38, pp 5-12.

Stern, L J (2016) Virtuous Educational Research: Conversations on Ethical Practice; Oxford: Peter Lang.

Stern, L J, Grant, T and Ward, P (2015) ‘How Solitude Will Bring Us All Together’, Professional REflection: The Journal of NATRE, 33:1, pp 54-57.

Stern, L J (2015) ‘Soul-searching and Re-searching: Action Philosophy Alone’, Educational Action Research, 23:1, pp 104-115.

Stern, L J (2015) ‘Children’s Voice or Children’s Voices: How Educational Research Can be at the Heart of Schooling’, Forum: For Promoting 3-19 Comprehensive Education, 57:1, pp 75-90.

Stern, L J (2014) Loneliness and Solitude in Education: How to Value Individuality and Create an Enstatic School; Oxford: Peter Lang.

Stern, L J (2014) ‘Dialogues of Space, Time and Practice: Supporting Research in Higher Education’, Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives, 3:2, pp 3-21.

Stern, L J (2014) ‘Teaching Solitude: Sustainability and the Self, Community and Nature While Alone’,Educational Research Journal, 28:1&2, pp 163-181.

Stern, L J (2014) ‘The Influence of Research Within Religious Education: The Westhill Seminars, RE Professionals, Pupils and Schools’, British Journal of Religious Education, 36:1, p 18-38.

Stern, L J (2013) ‘Martin Buber, Empathy and Research Practice: A Response to Rachel Cope’, Journal for the Study of Spirituality, 3:1, pp 67-72.

Stern, L J (2013) ‘Surprise in Schools: Martin Buber and Dialogic Schooling’, Forum: For Promoting 3-19 Comprehensive Education, 55:1, pp 45-58, 2013.

Stern, L J (2013) ‘Endword: Virtuous Education: Divided No More’, in McNiff, J (ed) (2013) Value and Virtue in Practice-Based Research; Poole, Dorset: September Books, p 124-128.

Stern, L J (2013) ‘Loneliness, Solitude and Inclusion for Leaders’, chapter 7 in Buchanan, M T (ed) (2013)Leadership and Religious Schools: International Perspectives and Challenges; New York: Bloomsbury, p 109-126.

Stern, L J (2013) ‘Virtue and Value in Educational Research’, chapter 10, in Arthur, J and Lovat, T (eds) (2013) The Routledge International Handbook of Education, Religion and Values; Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, p 114-123.

Stern, L J (2013) ‘Homework’, chapter 17, in Hancock, R, Collins, J and Stacey, M (eds) (20013) Primary Teaching Assistants: Learners and Learning (2nd edition); Abingdon, Oxford: Routledge, p 120-125.

Stern, L J (2013) ‘What Must Church Schools Do To Live Up To Their Rhetoric’, in Worsley, H (ed) Anglican Church School Education: Moving Beyond the First Two Hundred Years, London: Continuum Bloomsbury.

Stern, L J (2012) ‘The Personal World of Schooling: John Macmurray and Schools as Households’; Oxford Review of Education, 38:6, pp 727-745.

Buchanan, M T and Stern, L J (2012) ‘Pre-service Teachers’ Perceptions of the Benefits of Peer Review’,Journal of Education for Teaching, 38:1, February 2012, pp 37-49.

Stern, L J and Backhouse, A (2011) ‘Dialogic Feedback for Children and Teachers: Evaluating the ‘Spirit of Assessment’’, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 16:4, pp 321-336.

Stern, L J (2011) ‘Expressing Meaning Through Sound: Liberating Music’, p 18-22 in Pett, S (ed) Questions: Expressing Meaning; Birmingham: RE Today Services.

Stern, L J (2010) ‘Research as Pedagogy: Building Learning Communities and Religious Understanding in RE’,British Journal of Religious Education, 32:2, March 2010, pp 133-146.

Stern, L J (2010) ‘Love, Death, and Inclusive Religious Education’, chapter 1 (p 5-17) in Schmack, J, Thompson, M and Torevell, D, with Cole, C (2010) Engaging Religious Education: Liverpool Hope University Studies in Ethics Series Volume One: Ethics and Religious Education; Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Stern, L J (2009) The Spirit of the School; London: Continuum.

Stern, L J (2009) Getting the Buggers to Do Their Homework, Second Edition; London: Continuum.

Stern, L J (2009) ‘Monologue or Dialogue?  Stepping Away from the Abyss in Higher Education’, London Review of Education, 7:3, p 271-281, November 2009.

Stern, L J (2007) Schools and Religions: Imagining the Real; London: Continuum.

Sink, C A, Cleveland, R, and Stern, J (2007) ‘Spiritual Formation in Christian School Counseling Programs’,Journal of Research on Christian Education, 16: 35-63. 

Stern, L J (2007) ‘Mattering: What it Means to Matter in School’, Education 3-13, 35:3, August 2007, p 285-295

Stern, L J (2007) ‘Action Philosophy in Jewish and Christian Traditions’, Resource, 30:1, Autumn 2007, pp 9-12

Stern, L J (2006) Teaching Religious Education: Researchers in the Classroom; London: Continuum.

Stern, L J and James, S (2006) ‘Every Person Matters: Enabling Spirituality Education for Nurses’, Journal of Clinical Nursing 15:7, p 897-904, July 2006

Stern, L J (2004) ‘Marking Time: Using Music to Create Inclusive Religious Education and Inclusive Schools’,Support for Learning, 19:3, pp 107-113

Stern, L J (2003) Involving Parents; London: Continuum. 

Stern, L J (2001) ‘John Macmurray, Spirituality, Community and Real Schools’, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, Vol 6:1, pp 25-39, April 2001

Stern, L J (2000) Byting Back: Religious Education Sinks its Teeth into Computers: A Guide and In-Service Training Pack for RE Teachers (3rd edition); Isleworth: BFSS National RE Centre. 

Stern, L J (1999) Developing as a Teacher of History; Cambridge: Chris Kington. 

Stern, L J (1997) The Beginning Teacher as Researcher: A Guide for School Tutors (2nd edition); London: Institute of Education, University of London, Occasional Papers in Teacher Education and Training.

Stern, L J (1997) Homework and Study Support: A Guide for Teachers and Parents; London: David Fulton. 

Stern, L J (1995) Learning to Teach: a guide for school-based initial and in-service training; London: David Fulton.

External Activity

As well as work with ISREV, with the Diocesan Board of Education, and the Centre for Global Education (described in the ‘profile’ section, along with various editorial boards), I have helped organise and host a number of international conferences (on religious education, on the social and moral fabric of the school, and on value and virtue in practice-based research), and have contributed to other international conferences (BERA, ECER, the European Affective Education Network, the PESGB, the International Boys’ School Coalition, AULRE, the John Macmurray Fellowship, and EFTRE) and a large number of national events. I have had visiting roles in the Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe, Germany, and Seattle Pacific University, USA. I have been an Honorary Academic Advisor at the Centre for Religious and Spirituality Education, Hong Kong Institute of Education, since 2008. For over 20 years I have been involved in various organisations, including school governing bodies, government initiatives (such as introducing new technologies into schools), curriculum projects (such as the RE and Environment Programme), and leadership initiatives (such as the Integrated Leader Project of the National Work-Life Forum). 

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