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Staff Profile

Dr Mark Dawson

Lecturer in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics

Mark Dawson

At undergraduate level I gained a BA (Hons) in History and a Diploma in International Development and the Environment. I completed my MA in the religion and public life strand of Theology and Religious Studies in 2012. My PhD at the University of Leeds looked at support for Fair Trade carried out by churchgoers, examining both the nature of the activity and the ways in which it is linked with their faith. I adopted an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on theology, the social sciences and philosophy/ethics. My doctorate was awarded in 2017, when I went on to teach at the Lifelong Learning Centre at the University of Leeds, lecturing on religion from an interdisciplinary perspective for the Foundation Year and tutoring in Professional Studies. In 2019 I was appointed to the role of lecturer at York St John. In 2021 I became the Course Lead for the Religion BA and MA courses. In my teaching and research, I continue to explore the interface between religion and public life through the medium of multiple academic disciplines and methodologies. I am interested in supervising postgraduate theses in the following areas:

  • Public theology
  • Christian ethics and public life
  • Theology/religion and the environment
  • Religion and social action
  • Religion and international development
  • Religion and globalisation


I have held the role of Module Leader for the undergraduate modules:

  • New Testament Studies
  • Philosophy and Religion
  • Religion and Human Diversity
  • Religion in the Public Sphere
  • The Foundations of Christian Theology
  • The Story of the Bible;
  • Theology: Action and Reflection
  • Values and Virtues: Ethics and Religion
  • World Christianity

And for the taught masters modules:

  • Religion and Public Life
  • Spirituality and Public Life
  • The Changing Face of Religion in Society


I am currently writing a number of academic journal articles on church action for Fair Trade. This specific examination can be utilised to shed light on wider issues for religion in public life. I am interested in exploring the changing nature of public debate and the ways in which religious voices can be heard in a society dominated by social media and populist outlooks. I am planning a research project investigating the views of churchgoers on the environmental crisis. Through working on my doctorate, my post as a research assistant and my consultancy work, I have gained experience of using a range of research methods including: qualitative interviews, participant observation, focus groups and surveys.



Dawson, M. (2020) Justice and demonstration of Christian principles: why churchgoers support Fair Trade. The Expository Times Vol. 131(8) 348–357.

Dawson, M. (2019) Church action for Fair Trade as Public Theology: learning from the experience of the mainstreaming of Fair Trade in the UK. International Journal of Public Theology Vol.13(1) 55-71.

Dawson, M. (2017) Fair Trade and the Kingdom of God: examining Fair Trade action by churches as a form of Public Theology. Leeds: The University of Leeds, PhD thesis.

Book review

Christopher Baker and Elaine Graham eds. Theology for Changing Times: John Atherton and the Future of Public Theology for Reading Religion (American Academy of Religion) 2020. 

Conference papers

Fair Trade and the Kingdom of God: Living in Hope of a Fair Future presented to the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics Annual Conference. University of Cambridge 9 September 2017.

Theology Engaging with the Social Sciences: Opportunities and Challenges Arising from an Interdisciplinary Project on Support for Fair Trade in the UK presented to the Society for the Study of Theology Postgraduate Conference. KU Leuven. 29 August 2017.

The Church and Fair Trade: The Challenge of Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods presented to the University of Leeds Sustainable Perspectives on Future Challenges Conference. University of Leeds. 3 February 2017.

The Fair Trade Town: A Model for Church Engagement in Pluralist Society? presented to the Loyola Institute Interdisciplinary Conference. Trinity College, Dublin. 23 June 2016.

A Vision for Trade Justice: Church Action for Fair Trade in the Context of Mainstreaming presented to the International Fair Trade Symposium. Politecnico Milano, Milan. 30 May 2015.

Image of the Kingdom? The Practice of Fair Trade as an Act of Symbolic Witness presented to the Society for the Study of Theology Postgraduate Conference. University of Manchester. 9th January 2015.

Professional activities

I am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and also hold an ULTA-1 teaching qualification from the University of Leeds and a PGCE from the University of Oxford.

Other activities

Professional roles 

I have worked in local government, retail management and as a TEFL teacher. In academia, I have tutored for the School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science at the University of Leeds and have taken on the role of Writing Mentor and Research Support Intern, which included the organisation of conferences and research seminars. I have also served as tutor at the Lifelong Learning Centre for the University of Leeds and at the University of Chester.

Voluntary roles

Chair of the National Campaigner Committee of the Fairtrade Foundation (January 2019 – present)

Member of the Audit Panel for the Shared Interest Social Accounts (2017 – 2018)

Coordinator Fairtrade Yorkshire (2010 – 2019)

Activist representative on the Oxfam Climate Change Equation (2009 – 2011)

Member of the Association of Oxfam [part of the governing body of Oxfam GB] (2007 – 2013)