Dr Wendy Dossett

Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies

I'm a believer in Max Müller's adage ‘he (or she!) who knows one, knows none.' The effort to explore and understand the variety of religious and spiritual influences on human history, culture, and behaviour is hugely worthwhile. The open, enquiring, academic study of religions at every level of education should be defended, resourced and supported.

Telephone 01244 513 975
Email w.dossett@chester.ac.uk

Qualifications

BA(hons), PhD (Wales), PGCE (Secondary RE), PG Cert HE, FHEA

Overview

Having studied for a joint degree in English Literature and Religious Studies, I decided to explore my interest in Buddhism at PhD level, whilst living at a Pure Land Buddhist Temple in Tokyo. My PhD explored the ways religions in general, and Buddhism in particular, are frequently categorised by scholarship according to an ‘essence and manifestation' model, leading to judgmental distortions in presentations. On my return from Japan I trained as a secondary school teacher, and spent the following six years involved in the training of secondary RE teachers. As a teacher by vocation, I've been particularly interested in the interface between secondary and higher education in the field of RE/RS. Too often the insights of HE fail to reach the secondary sector, and much of both my published work and the training I provide for teachers hopes to address this in a small way.

I have more than a decade of experience as a principal examiner for the WJEC (Public examinations body in Wales), writing A level syllabuses, setting papers, leading marking teams, and providing CPD for teachers. I am Secretary of the Shap Working Party for Religions in Education, a lobby group of RE/RS professionals from all sectors and faith communities, founded in 1969 by Ninian Smart and others, to ensure that education in religions considered religions in general and not only the religion of the British establishment.

At my last post in Lampeter I was a director of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre, which houses the well-known archive of more than 6,000 accounts from the general public of religious and spiritual experiences. I've supervised the research work of numerous students and scholars in the archive, and I'm interested in the ways in which such experiences are reported by people who do not identify with formal religious traditions. In particular I’m interested in the experiences of and the language used by people in recovery from addiction.

Teaching

As a generalist I've taught a wide range of subjects within religious studies, including Sikhism, Psychology of Religion and Religious Experience.  In Chester I’m teaching Buddhism, the Study of Religion, and a module for undergraduates in Religious Education. I’m also programme leader of our Masters in Religious Studies, which equips students to undertake more advanced research into contemporary religion, culture and spirituality.

Research

Areas:

Religious Education, Religious Education and Community Cohesion, Buddhism in Religious Education, Japanese Pure Land Buddhism, some aspects of Religious Experience, and Spirituality and Addiction. I'm interested in supervising MPhil and PhD students in these areas.

Projects:

  • Member of team based at the University of Warwick, directed by Professor Robert Jackson, commissioned by the DCSF, to introduce a number of measures designed to support and improve teaching and learning in Religious Education in Schools in England. Published in Jan 2010.
  • Member of the team for the construction of a significant online resource for continuing professional development (CPD) in religious education commissioned by Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and jointly led by four organisations: The Association of RE Inspectors, Advisers and Consultants (AREIAC) The Association of University Lecturers in Religious Education (AULRE) The Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education and The National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE). Publication in Spring 2010 on the REC website.
  • The Higher Power Project – a qualitative study of the concepts of Higher Power used by people in recovery from addiction through Twelve Step Programmes

Published work

  • 2000 'Teaching Buddhism' in W.Kay and L. Francis (eds) Religion in Education: Distance Learning, London, Gracewing
  • 2001 Article on ‘Women in Religious Education' in The Women's Studies Encyclopedia, London, Routledge
  • 2003 Buddhism For AS Students (Text Book and teachers handbook for the New Advanced Subsidiary (AS) in Buddhism) UWIC Press (also version in Welsh)
  • 2003 Judaism For AS Students jointly authored with Lavinia Cohn Sherbok (Text Book and teachers' handbook for the New Advanced Subsidiary (AS) in Buddhism) UWIC Press 
  • 2006 Religious Experience (A level Text Book and teachers handbook) Cardiff, UWIC Press 
  • 2007 ‘Shin and the Diversity of Buddhism' Shap Journal, London: Shap Working Party for World Religions in Education
  • 2007 ‘Teaching Buddhism: Some Challenges': Worcestershire County Council Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education
  • 2008 ‘Learning About and Learning From': Reflections on the significance of T/RS method debates for modern Religious Education': in M. Warrier and S. Oliver (eds), Theology and Religious Studies: The Disciplines and Their Boundaries, Edinburgh: T and T Clark. 
  • 2009 Religion in Contemporary Society (AS) (A level text book and teachers handbook) Cardiff, UWIC Press, (jointly authored with Karl Lawson, Andrew Pearce and Roger Owen)
  • 2013 Dossett, W., (2013). Addiction, Spirituality and the Twelve Steps.' International Social Work. May, Vol. 56, No. 2

Book reviews have been published in

  • Fieldwork in Religion
  • Journal of Contemporary Religion
  • The Middle Way – Journal of the British Buddhist Society