University Chaplain - Harriet Harris
Revd Dr Harriet Harris is the University Chaplain and Head of the Chaplaincy Service.
Harriet has developed and leads the multi-faith and belief Chaplaincy Team, the largest in a UK university, with over 25 Honorary Chaplains from global faith and philosophical traditions. She was awarded an MBE in 2017 for Services to Multi-Faith Education and Community Cohesion, and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2021 for her innovative work in universities.
She established The University Listening Service, which went 24/7 during Covid and won The Herald Higher Education Award for best student support service, in 2022.
She has made pioneering appointments of Daoist, Humanist, Pagan, LGBT+, and Mindfulness Chaplains. She integrates a University Mindfulness programme into Chaplaincy because, beyond calming stress, she sees the potential of Mindfulness to enhance academic life and sharpen cultural inquiry.
From her long-running ‘What’s the University for?’ Series, she created the ‘Abundant Academy Programme , the first bespoke coaching programme for universities.
She is a Priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church. and Convenor of the Doctrine Committee of the Scottish Episcopal Church, She produced the paper on Marriage for General Synod 2015, which underpinned the vote in 2017 for SEC ministers to conduct Same-Sex Marriage.
She supports mental health and wellbeing at the University through creating and overseeing the University Listening Service; being a trainer with Student Minds; providing the pan-University series ‘Am I the only one who…?’; establishing ‘Jiggered’ get togethers (modelled on Ruby Wax’s Frazzled Cafes); running blog and podcast series on mental health at university, being religious at university, and meeting life’s big challenges with a wise ‘joyful abandon’:
Harriet wrote Fundamentalism and Evangelicals (Oxford University Press 1998, revd edn 2008), the highest selling Oxford Theological Monograph, cited by renowned scholar James Barr in his final book as making ‘much difference to the presentation of my arguments’[i]. The volume established her as an international expert on Protestant Fundamentalism, sought for conferences and public engagement. She was formerly a University Lecturer in Theology at the University of Exeter, and before that a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Divinity School in Edinburgh, and in her writings particularly questions the legacy of analytical philosophy and explores spirituality as relevant to religious epistemology. She is invited to author volumes in two current international philosophy of religion series, and her most recent book is a co-edited volume Atheisms: The Philosophy of Non-Belief (Routledge, 2023) (see link below to publications).
As a Co-Director of the Edinburgh University Global Compassion Initiative, Harriet is committed to the UoE leading the way in creating globally responsible graduates who are equipped to help the world meet the Sustainable Development Goals. She draws on the burgeoning field of Compassion Science and on religious and belief traditions to pioneer the teaching of compassion within and beyond the University, including with the Scottish Government. She is an Associate Fellow of the Clinical Educator Programme, teaching Compassion for Healthcare Professionals for NHS Education Scotland.
Harriet’s list of principle publications can be seen in the link below:
[i] James Barr, History and Ideology in the Old Testament (OUP 2000), p. vii