William Rainey Harper Award

The William Rainey Harper Award was named after the first President of the University of Chicago, who was the founder of the REA. It is given to outstanding leaders whose work in other fields has had profound impact upon religious education. (see also Wornom Award)

Nomination Procedure

The Harper Wornom  Committee is responsible for soliciting nominations for both the Harper Award and the Wornom Innovation Grant. If you would like to nominate a person for the Harper Award please send your nomination with a paragraph describing your rationale for making it to our executive secretary at secretary [at] religiouseducation [dot] net. The nominations will be given to the Harper Committee of REA to be reviewed. After reviewing the nominations the committee will decide whether or not to forward a nomination to the REA Board which has the responsibility for making award decisions.

If you are interested in applying for a Wornom Innovation Grant please see the guidelines and application materials. Questions can be directed to our executive secretary.

2013 Harper Award to Bob Jackson

Robert Jackson

Professor Robert (Bob) Jackson, PhD, DLitt, AcSS, University of Warwick, received the William Rainey Harper Award at the 2013 REA Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. The award recognizes Jackson’s significant contribution to the study and advocacy of religions and education in the school experience of young people. Professor Jackson, who holds positions at Warwick University and the European Wergeland Centre in Oslo, is an expert consultant on religious diversity and education and Co-Editor of the Waxmann book series Religious Diversity and Education in Europe. Between 1994 and 2012 Professor Jackson led the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU), the largest research team in Europe dedicated to religions and education.

video of acceptance speech

Past Award Recipients

Parker J. Palmer at REA
Parker J. Palmer received the Harper Award at 2010 REA
  • 1973 : Marshall McLuhan, Centre for Culture and Technology, Toronto
  • 1975 : Elie Wiesel, City College of New York, New York
  • 1977 : Margaret Mead, American Museum of Natural History, New York
  • 1978 : Randolph C. Miller, Yale University Divinity School, New Haven
  • 1981 : Johannes Hofinger, S.J., Archdiocese of New Orleans
  • 1983 : Paulo and Elza Freire, University of Recife, Brazil
  • 1992 : John M. Hull, University of Birmingham, England
  • 1994 : Martin E. Marty, University of Chicago
  • 2003 : Gabriel Moran and Maria Harris, New York University
  • 2009 : James M. Fowler, Emory University, Atlanta
  • 2010 : Parker J. Palmer, Center for Courage & Renewal, video of award

Harper Committee Members

Maureen O’Brien (2019), Chair, Duquesne University
Sarah Tauber (2020), Jewish Theological School of America
Lucinda Mosher (2021), Hartford Seminary
Joshua Lunde-Whitler (2022), The Walker Center

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