Leading research academic named President of high-profile professional body
A leading University of Wolverhampton academic has been named President of Theology and Religious Studies UK (TRS-UK).
Dr Opinderjit Kaur Takhar MBE, Director of the University’s Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies, is the first person of colour to be appointed President, and the first woman for a number of years.
TRS-UK represents, supports, and promotes teaching and research in religion and theology in Higher Education throughout the UK. Its member organisations are the Departments/units of Theology and/or /Religious Studies in UK Universities, and the main specialist subject associations that promote research in this multi-disciplinary field.
Dr Takhar is also Associate Professor of Sikh Studies at the University and an internationally recognised researcher who has published extensively on the Sikh and Panjabi community.
Dr Takhar said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been appointed President of the TRS-UK. In my new role I will be addressing issues around attitudes towards the discipline from school level through to studying religion and theology at Higher Education. I will work closely with school and college teachers, University departments and subject associations to ensure the subject area continues to be taught by specialists. One of the aims of my new role will also be around enhancing the public understanding of religion from a multidisciplinary perspective which focusses on the lived experience.
“TRS-UK plays a significant role as the umbrella body for the teaching of religion and theology in Higher Education. It has achieved a professional status through its aims around ensuring the subject area responds to contemporary attitudes towards the subject. Promoting religious literacy is important in combatting prejudice and discrimination based on ignorance and unfounded stereotypes.”
A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Dr Takhar is also an Editorial Board member for Journal for Understanding Sikhism and on the editorial board of the Journal, Sikh Formations. She was awarded as ‘Inspirational Woman of the Year 2020’ by Asian Today and as ‘Influencer of the Year 2019’ at the British Indian Awards. She has been awarded twice at the House of Lords, in 2021 and 2017, for her research and outreach in Sikh Studies. She also delivered the first ever lecture on Sikhs at British Parliament in 2018.
Dr Takhar has presented her research in universities across the world, she has produced textbooks and a teacher’s guide for the OCR GCSE syllabus on Philosophy and Ethics, used in secondary schools across Britain and she has written numerous educational resources for RE Today Publications, a national resource for teaching Religious Education across schools and colleges in the UK. Her 2005 book on Sikh Identity is used as a key text in universities across the world.
She is a regular participant on discussion programmes and panels on Sikh media channels. She has regularly contributed to the British Sikh Report, as well as the UK Sikh Survey, and is also one of the authors of the Sikh Manifesto, produced by the Sikh Network (UK) in preparation for the 2015 British Parliament elections.
The Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies, which is the first of its kind in the UK, offers PhDs and Master’s level courses in Sikh studies, as well as continuing professional development (CPD) courses for teachers and managers of diverse workforces such as national and local government, the NHS and the emergency services.
Anyone looking to study at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days.
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