Public engagement to create new cultural encounters, shape policy, and enhance religious literacy
In 2021 King's was ranked 11th in the world for the social and environmental impact of its research.
We use our location in the capital to maximise the impact of King's TRS research, sustaining strong links with Parliament and Whitehall, Westminster Abbey, and the National Gallery. Our London partnerships reflect the University's emphasis on London in its Strategic Vision.
Many TRS researchers - specialising in theology, philosophy, art history and biblical studies - have created digital exhibitions for the Visual Commentary on Scripture, one of our flagship public engagement projects. The VCS has over 900-high resolution images on the site and is being used by schools, colleges and faith communities worldwide to foster new conversations about biblical texts and their complex interactions with works of art. In collaboration with two of Germany’s principal art galleries: the Bode-Museum, and the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, 30 films were launched in April 2023 to introduce museum visitors to the key characters in the Christian biblical story through objects in the museums; accessed through QR codes placed by those objects, as well as on the museums’ websites, means they can also be used by individuals and groups anywhere in the world.
Innovative London-based collaborations such as the app Alight: Art and the Sacred and the British Coronations Project are facilitated by longstanding partnerships with Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, and other London faith communities.
Our impact extends to legal London through our collaboration with the historic Temple Church, set within our neighbouring Inns of Court. A series of research projects led by the Rev'd Dr Robin Griffith-Jones have regenerated the ancient semiotics of the Church: built by the Templars to deepen divisions between Christendom and Islam, it now works to bridge those divisions through the principles of the rule of law. Dr Griffith-Jones is leading the University’s partnership with the Museum of London, with a view to enhancing its coverage on religion when it relocates to London’s new ‘Culture Mile’ in Smithfield in 2024. Professor Andrea Schatz and Dr Wendy Filer are also advising the Museum of London on early modern Jewish history in London for its new permanent exhibition.
TRS houses the educational charity INFORM (Information Network Focus on Religious Movements). INFORM conducts evidence-based analysis of religious movements, provides training for legal practitioners and government bodies, and publishes the Routledge Inform Book Series on Minority Religions and Spiritual Movements. In partnership with INFORM, TRS researchers are shaping policy and legal practice relating to radicalism and minority religions in the UK, Russia, and Eastern Europe and the UK.
TRS in the media
Our research is disseminated through high-profile contributions to public discourse. TRS researchers have contributed to BBC Radio 4 programmes including In Our Time, Start the Week, The Moral Maze, BBC's Moving Pictures and the Today Programme, and given interviews for the BBC World Service, PBS, ABC, CNN, France 2, and Al Jazeera. Professor Linda Woodhead engages regularly with UK and international broadcast media (e.g. BBC News, the Financial and Washington Times) commenting on values and religion today and contemporary moments including the 2021 Census and the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
We have co-organised the Immigrants of Spitalfields Festival, delivered public lectures at the Royal Institute of Philosophy, the British Library, and numerous literary festivals, and written for high-quality print and digital media including the Guardian, The Conversation, the Tablet and Plough. Many members of the TRS department participate in podcasts, including, The Church Times, Dan Snow’s History Hit, Biblical Time Machine, Religion Unplugged, The Spectator’s Holy Smoke, GodPod, Talking Theology and The Ancients. Dr Joy Clarkson seeks to bring the theology-and-the-arts discussions to a wider public through her podcast Speaking with Joy.
Professor Joan Taylor’s groundbreaking research in biblical studies and material culture has influenced a series of films about Jesus and his disciples, including ‘Secrets of Christ’s Tomb’ (National Geographic, 2017), ‘Jesus’ Female Disciples: The New Evidence’ (Channel 4/ABC/Sky History Channel, 2018), ‘Mary Magdalene’ (Porchlight Films/See-Saw Films, 2018), ‘Jezus van Nazareth verovert de wereld’ (EO, 2018) and ‘Jesus: His Life’ (Sky History Channel, 2019).
King’s TRS official partnership with the National Gallery
King’s TRS is the official academic partner with the National Gallery in a pioneering new initiative: the Interfaith Sacred Art Network. Working also with St Martin-in-the-Fields, the network brings together scholars and leaders from across Britain’s faith traditions, and selects works from the Gallery’s collections as a stimulus to interfaith exchange, insight, and closer collaboration. The artworks are chosen in relation to an agreed annual theme (in 2022, ‘Crossing Borders’; in 2023, ’The Art of Creation’), allowing participants to think with the art (and with their own sacred texts, which are brought to the table and shared) about issues of common concern, such as migration, and the ecological crisis. The fruits of these conversations are then made available to a wider public through online texts and short films.
Creative Conversations Film Series
In this film, VCS Director Ben Quash interviews filmmaker, playwright, author, and photographer Wim Wenders about his photograph 'The Road to Emmaus' (2000), where the risen Jesus is said to have met his disciples. Wenders also explains what a 'loving look' can reveal which a 'critical look' may fail to see.