Affiliate PhD Students

Profiles of the PhD students associated with the Jubilee Centre can be found below

Adian Thompson

Aidan began a part-time PhD in Education in 2017, under the title ‘The Ethical Value of Pop Lyrics: the role of the pop lyric in the education of virtue literacy’.

The thesis explores the value of pop lyrics and identifies ethical value both where ethical content is present and through analysis of the lyric using traditional techniques of poetic analysis, but with an empathetic and ethically critical perspective. The study builds on the work of Adam Bradley (2017) that pop song lyrics can and should be considered as pieces of poetry in their own right, as well as work in the philosophy of aesthetics regarding the tensions and synergies between ethical and aesthetic value (e.g. Carroll, 2000); and the sociological and cultural value of pop music (e.g. Frith, 2004). Pop lyrics embrace themes of emotion, ethics, virtue and vice, often in popularised ways, according to formulae intended to maximise the commercial value of songs and artists. That said, this commercial value should not, and I argue does not, detract from the ethical value that lyrics hold through their content and the affect that they have on listeners. The project studies pop song lyrics as pieces of poems, de-coupled from their accompanying music, and develops the rationale for unpacking the educational potential that lyrics hold as tools for teaching pupils about their own moral development. In the thesis, I draw together existing conceptions and definitions of virtue literacy, consider the gaps in existing understandings and present a new definition that provides a more holistic concept – particularly with regards educating character through the arts.

Dávid Laco

Dávid Laco is a part-time PhD student (supervised by Prof. Andrew Peterson and Dr. Tom Harrison) whose research focuses on character development of young adults through intentional residential programs. 

David studied Psychology and Business Studies (Edinburgh University) and Character Education (Birmingham University) and works as the Residing Director of Baraka, an innovative residential character education program at C. S. Lewis Bilingual High School (Bratislava, Slovakia). At The Jubilee Centre, he has also collaborated as a Research Consultant for character developmental projects for the Templeton World Charity Foundation, with research emphasis on Qualitative Methodologies and Relational Virtues.

Jason Metcalfe

Jason’s PhD focuses on whether the teaching of moral virtues is seen as a fundamental aim of the subject of religious education in England & Wales. The PhD also examines whether pupil’s self-reported manifestations of respect and empathy are shaped by the teaching of the subject of religious education in a consistent manner across England & Wales.

Karen Eamens

Karen Eamens is a part-time PhD student and secondary deputy headteacher. She commenced her PhD studies in 2020 and is supervised by Professor Andrew Peterson and Dr Tom Harrison. She originally read history and law at the Australian National University, and after training as a teacher, went on to complete a Master of Human Resource Management and a Master of Public Administration.

Karen is interested in the relationship between school culture and teacher wellbeing and hopes her research will identify specific actions school leaders can take to build positive, resilient, and inclusive school communities that buffer teachers against the stressors of their profession.

Lois Banks

Lois Banks is a part-time PhD student supervised by Prof. Andrew Peterson and Dr. Catherine Darnell. Her study commenced in February 2020 and it examines the relationship between teachers and parents as character educators. The study will take a close look at young children’s own perceptions of moral virtues at both home and school. Lois completed her MA Education at Canterbury Christ Church University in 2018, which also focused on teacher/parent relationships in character education. The research had a positive impact on her former workplace, Crest Infants and Nursery School and put character education at the heart of school. Lois is now an Assistant Headteacher at Hoo St. Werburgh Primary School.

Michael Fullard

Michael began a part-time PhD in Education in 2020, under the title ‘How does a focus on character education shape positive relationships between teachers and pupils in a school?’

The proposed study carries on from the work Michael has been doing over the past three years as a Research Fellow at the Jubilee Centre and will look at the under explored area of how character education can impact or influence teacher-student relationships primarily in secondary schools in the UK. The study will aim to examine three primary questions:

1. How do teachers and pupils within a school perceive their relationships?

2. What role does character education contribute to these relationships?

3. What challenges and barriers do teachers and pupils face when attempting to develop positive relationships?

Mike joined the Jubilee Centre in May 2017 as a Research Fellow. View his profile here.

Emerald Henderson

Emerald Henderson’s PhD, supervised by Professsor Kristján Kristjánsson and Dr Laura D’Olimpio, focuses on the emulation of moral role models as a method of virtuous character development. She seeks to disambiguate the methodology of emulation qua role modelling by devising a philosophically discerning and psychologically realistic ‘theory of emulation’. Through doing so, she intends to illuminate how role modelling works, particularly in the professional context of teaching.

Emerald holds a BA in Philosophy and PGCE from King’s College London, and an MA in Applied Ethics from Utrecht University. Prior to her master’s she taught for nine years, as Head of Philosophy and later Head of Eudaimonia. This experience ignited her enduring interest in neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics and, naturally, teacher education.

Rianna Yafia

Rianna is a full-time PhD student who aims to conduct a comparative exploration into the transferability of Virtue Literacy across children aged 8-12 years old in two UK-based schools. The primary aim of the PhD is to contribute to new research in the field of Character Education by exploring the transferability of virtue literacy at a pre-phronesis formation stage of understanding. The potential significance of this study is whether the research produces evidence that will support further, more extensive research that will consider differing pedagogical approaches to teaching virtue literacy in primary and secondary schools. Rianna has previously completed an Undergraduate degree in Linguistics and most recently an MA in Education, whilst being a Secondary School teacher.  

Rianna’s PhD research interests are a direct reflection of her personal and career experiences to date. Choosing a career in teaching and education stemmed from a desire to change the lives of children by equipping them with the skills required to lead a successful academic and personal life.

Ben Miller

Ben Miller is a part-time PhD student whose research explores theological approaches to character formation and examines the significance of ecclesiology and the church community in the development of character.

Ben studied Theology (London School of Theology) and Character Education (University of Birmingham) and is a former Research Fellow at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues. Ben is now Head of Theology and Philosophy at Reading School.

Emile van Velsen

Emile van Velsen’s PhD is supervised by Professsor Andrew Peterson and Dr. Karin Bottom. The research question is: ‘In what ways does institutional university governance -as part of a larger system and political climate- influence lecturers’ ability and capacity to include their institution’s espoused educational values?’ The goal of his research is to contribute to Higher Education governance theory, including the possibility to practice neo-Aristotelean character formation in education. He has a special interest in civic values, because of the importance of sustaining democracy and the common good in a pluralistic society.

Emile holds a MA in Human Resource Sciences from Tilburg University (The Netherlands), and a MA in Education Research from Canterbury Christ Church University. Emile served in the capacity of director of a teacher training program, director of an institute of social studies, and in public affairs. His interest in character education started after being introduced to the moral philosophies of C.S. Lewis and Alisdair MacIntyre.

Lu Yun-Chieh

Yun-Chieh is a full-time PhD student supervised by Professor Kristján Kristjánsson and Dr Laura D’Olimpio. Yun-Chieh’s research focuses on multicultural sensitive character education. The research aims to build the bridge between different fields of knowledge from ethics, character education, citizenship education and cultural theories and to construct a multicultural sensitive model of character education to promote students’ well-being.

Yun-Chieh holds a BA in political science from National Taiwan University and received her MA in philosophy of education from National Taiwan Normal University. She also worked at National Academy for Educational Research as a research assistant in Taiwan from 2019 to 2021.

Robin Venn

Robin began studying with The Jubilee Centre in 2019 on the Character Education MA and went on to apply to do a PhD as an affiliate student with the School of Education. Robin’s research focuses on Initial Teacher Education and the understanding and development of civic character and civic virtue within a trainee teachers, their professional mentors, and the institutions that train them. The aim is to demonstrate what value and understanding the ITE environment places on the development of civility and civic virtue within its new teachers. Robin believes that the current interest in developing character education for our young must mean that teachers and those in charge of our educational institutions must have the necessary time and opportunity to develop their thoughts and ideas around character education.

Peter Oldham

Peter Oldham is a part time Education PhD student, who commenced studying for his PhD in September 2023. He is supervised by Prof. Tom Harrison and Dr Shane McLoughlin and his research focus is mapping and evaluating the field of Character Education research. Peter studied for his undergraduate degree in Human Sciences at University College London (2010) and for his Character Education Masters at the University of Birmingham (2022). Peter is currently completing his PhD alongside working full time as a secondary school teacher. He also has a young family, which keeps his hands full when he isn’t either working or studying!

Rachael Bushby

Rachael began part-time PhD study in October 2023, supervised by Professor Andrew Peterson and Dr Shane McLoughlin. Rachael is exploring curiosity and its connection to mental wellbeing in schools. The rationale behind the topic is as follows:

  • There is a requirement for schools to promote good mental wellbeing in their pupils.
  • There are theoretical and empirical links between mental wellbeing and curiosity.
  • Generally, schools value curiosity.
  • Curiosity is a complex concept that occupies several broad spectra potentially leading to vague application in educational practice.

Prior to embarking on PhD study, Rachael completed the MA Character Education 2020-23 which culminated in a qualitative study on the perspectives of senior mental health leads in schools on the relationship between mental wellbeing and character education. Rachael is a Research Fellow in the Jubilee Centre working on the Global Innovations for Character Development Platform, and co-founder of Dragonfly: Impact Education, an organisation that helps schools support mental health and wellbeing in their communities.

Julie Taylor

Julie Taylor is a part-time PhD student (supervised by Prof. Andrew Peterson and Dr Tom Harrison) whose research focuses on the role of humility as a moral virtue within the field of Initial Teacher Education in England and how its emergence may influence the school-based mentor/trainee teacher relationship during the professional practice component of teacher education programmes.

Julie studied a BA(QTS) in Education with a specialism in English (University of Warwick) and an MA in Character Education (University of Birmingham). She received a Jubilee Centre’s Ambassador of Character award for her character work within the teacher education sector and has contributed to a number of Jubilee Centre publications, events and webinars. She is currently an Associate Professor and Head of Primary Teacher Education at the Centre for Teacher Education at the University of Warwick.