Ewan Brady, OCR Religious Studies Subject Advisor
In the past few years there has been a growing desire for teachers and students to explore more diverse thinkers in their studies across a range of subjects, including Religious Studies. This is something that teachers have spoken to us about and that we have discussed with stakeholders at meetings of our Religious Studies Forum.
We are not planning to redevelop the A Level Religious Studies specification at this point. However, the time will come for this change. Until then we will continue to speak with the subject community about what they would like to see in a future course, including which new thinkers or scholars should feature.
However, teachers can go beyond the specification when looking at scholars and may have chosen to do this in recent years. We are producing new resources to highlight some new thinkers that we feel are particularly interesting and that teachers may want to explore with their students.
In creating the resources, we invited a senior examiner from each component to select four key new thinkers. It is important to note that you do not need to explore all or any of these thinkers – please do not overburden yourself or your students!
For each component there is a poster and a video with further information. I thought it would be useful to provide a very brief introduction to each in this blog. There are also internet links to useful websites. There will be resources for each component – I have focussed on the first three here.
Elizabeth Anscombe was born in 1919 and attended the University of Oxford. She became Chair of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge in 1970 and is regarded as one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century.
Mary Midgely, born in the same year as Anscombe, attended Oxford at the same time. She wrote her final book ‘What is Philosophy for?’ in 2018. She rejected the linguistic focus of philosophy and wanted to reconnect it to ordinary life.
Yujun Nagasawa grew up in Tokyo and studied in the USA and Australia. His vision for the future of philosophy is to extend its scope, encouraging diverse religious and cultural interactions.
Kathryn Sophia Belle is a founding member of the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers. Her research interests include black feminist philosophy, Africana/African American philosophy, continental philosophy, and the philosophy of race.
Philippa Foot was a contemporary of Anscombe and Midgley at Oxford. She also taught at Oxford and several universities in the USA. Foot is best known as the creator of the famous trolley problem.
Mary Warnock studied and taught at the University of Oxford and later served and Head of Girton College, Cambridge. She wrote extensively on ethics and education and was an advocate for voluntary euthanasia.
Onora O’Neill was educated at Oxford and Harvard University. She taught at the University of Essex and served as principal of Newnham College, Cambridge. O’Neill is currently Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Her key interests include Kantian ethics, and trust.
Marcella Althaus-Reid was born in Argentina and was the first female professor of theology in Scotland, at the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests included liberation theology, feminist theology and queer theology.
Delores Williams is Professor Emerita of Theology and Culture at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She is known for her key role in the development of womanist theology and has focussed on the intersecting oppression of race, gender, and class.
Anthony Reddie is the Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture at the University of Oxford. He is noted for his contribution to black theology, calling on white Christianity to reject the heresy of white superiority.
Francesca Stavrakopoulou is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter. She regularly appears on the BBC’s ‘The Big Questions’ and ‘Sunday Morning Live.’ Her research includes the exploration of the ancient constructs of the body and personhood.
Eleanor McLaughlin teaches theology and ethics at the University of Oxford, where she is postgraduate course coordinator in the Faculty of Theology and Religion. She has a particular interest in the ideas and life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and ‘unconscious Christianity’.
The new thinkers resources are available to view and download from the A Level RS page of our website. We hope you and your students find them useful. We are planning a CPD event to be held early in the new academic year to further explore introducing diversity to your A Level teaching.
Which new thinkers would you like us to cover through product support or in a future specification?
If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or follow us on Twitter @OCR_RS. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive email information about resources and support.
Since joining OCR as a subject specialist in June 2014, Ewan has been responsible for several subjects including Law, Government and Politics, and Sociology. He led the redevelopment of the new AS and A Levels in Law for first teaching in 2017. He took over responsibility for Religious Studies as Subject Advisor in 2017.
Ewan taught for 16 years in Scotland and England and held leadership roles including head of humanities, teaching subjects including history, law, politics, citizenship, and religious studies. In his spare time Ewan enjoys walking, sport, reading, going to the cinema, and playing video games with his family.