Professor Linda Woodhead has received an MBE (Member of theBritish Empire) award for her services to Higher Education in the 2013 New Year’s Honour’s list.
Professor Woodhead works within Lancaster University as Professor of Sociology of Religion, and has been with the University for over twenty years. She focuses on power relations within religion, religious diversity, and new forms of religiosity, among other areas. Professor Woodhead, on her faculty page, states, “I am a sociologist of religion. My main interest is in documenting and analysing religious change in modern societies, relating it to wider social changes, and thinking through practical and political implications.”
When asked about her reaction to the MBE award, Professor Woodhead said, “At first I was just taken aback, but then I thought – someone must have gone to the trouble to put me forward for this, and I felt really grateful.
“Since it was made public in the New Years honours I’ve been amazed and touched by how many people have written to me. Including people I haven’t heard of for years!”
Woodhead plans to carry on with her work as she did before being awarded her MBE, saying, “I take the award as an endorsement for my work (with others) trying to raise the profile of research about religion, and improve the level of public discussion about it, so I will just go on with this. There’s still a long way to go!”
When asked what attracted her to Lancaster University, Woodhead explained, “I’ve always found the University a supportive and friendly place. It’s the best place in theUKfor the study of religion. And there’s a lot of easy conversation between people in different departments and subjects, and staff and students, which I like.”
Outside of Lancaster University, Woodhead has taken part in a number of public activities. She chaired and organised the Westminster Faith Debates in 2012, which examined the place of religion in the UK. She has also worked with Tony Blair and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, taken part in BBC programme ‘The Big Questions’, and contributed to the Guardian on the subjects of Richard Dawkins and the “de-reformation of religion.” She has also written and edited several books and essays on religion.