Dr Mairi Levitt
BA (Edinburgh), DipEd (Edinburgh), MA (Edinburgh), PhD (Exeter)
I first became interested in Religious Studies at A level, when I took a course on ‘Religious Knowledge’, which was solely based on the Bible. Subsequently, I went to Edinburgh University intending to study Divinity. In my second year a brand new degree in Religious Studies was offered and I managed to change course without adding any extra time. I had taken a couple of sociology modules so then went on to study sociology. I later combined these two interests with an empirical study of church schools for my PhD. By then I lived in Cornwall where new church schools were being built so that parents had a choice – I wanted to know whether these schools made a difference to children’s religious beliefs and values. I have kept an interest in religious education but also research public values and attitudes in other fields, particularly towards genetic technologies.
Religion has not, as expected, curled up and died in modern societies. It would be difficult to argue that religion is irrelevant in any society; in fact religion seems more important than it was for understanding world affairs. So it is easy to argue that you can’t understand the world without taking religions seriously. But the most important reason for anyone to study religion at university is that they find the subject fascinating and want to learn more about it.
I want students to be interested and enthusiastic and rush out of lectures to do their own research - so I try to convey my own interest and enthusiasm in the classroom (I may not always succeed!).