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School of Education

Dr Cheryl Hunt

Dr Cheryl Hunt

Senior Honorary Research Fellow



Dr Cheryl Hunt BA (Hons Psychol), DipEd (QTS), MEd (Continuing Education), PhD

My research interests are: spirituality as a dimension of lifelong learning and professional practice; critical reflective practice in professional settings; teaching and learning in higher education; adult and community education.


BA (Hons Psychol), DipEd (QTS), MEd (Continuing Education), PhD


Having moved to the University of Exeter in 2003, I directed the Professional Doctorates Programme and set up a new inter-professional pathway within the Doctor of Education (EdD) programme. I also co-designed and developed an HEA-accredited Certificate in Academic Practice for new University Lecturers. Previously, I worked in adult and community education for many years before taking up a post in the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Sheffield where I was involved in pioneering work in school governor training, 'distance learning' and professional development, including critical reflective practice in a range of professional settings. I subsequently directed the MEd in Continuing Education and co-directed the thesis phase of the EdD programme. My research and teaching interests in community education and critical reflective practice led me into the study of spirituality. I have published and lectured extensively about these fields, and the links between them. I am currently a Director and Trustee of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality and the Chief Editor of the Journal for the Study of Spirituality.  I am a former Executive Editor of Teaching in Higher Education where I also had particular responsibility for editing the ‘Points of Departure‘ section. I have been a member of the Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA) for over thirty years, during which time I have served as elected Honorary Secretary, Council Member and conference organiser. I was recently appointed as an Honorary Life Member.


Research group links

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Research interests

1. Spirituality as a dimension of lifelong learning and professional practice.
2. Critical reflective practice and its use in professional settings.
3. Adult and community education.
4. Teaching and learning in higher education.
5. Autoethnography; auto/biographical and life history research.
6. Ways of knowing; use of metaphor.

Keywords: critical reflective practice, spirituality, professional learning, lifelong learning, adult and community education, teaching and learning in higher education, autoethnography, auto/biographical research, life history research, ways of knowing, use of metaphor.

Research networks

Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA)

International Network for the Study of Spirituality (INSS)

International Scientific and Medical Network

Research grants

  • 2003 Economic and Social Research Council
    Researching spirituality as a dimension of lifelong learning


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External Engagement and Impact

Evidence of impact on policy and professional practice

1. Learned Society/Professional Body membership

Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA)

  •     Council member since 1994
  •     Elected Honorary Secretary, 1996-1999
  •     Convenor of International Conference and Editor of Conferene Proceedings, 2004
  •     Conference Planning Committee Member, 1994-2009

British Association for the Study of Spirituality (BASS)

  •     Founder Member, Director and Trustee
  •     Member International Conference Planning Committee, from 2009

International Scientific and Medical Network

  •     Full member since 1999

National Network of Directors of Doctor of Education (EdD) Programmes

  •     Active member since 2004

2. Adviser/assessor for new postgraduate course development:

  • University of Surrey: MSc in Change Agent Skills and Strategies, including external validation of new pathway on Facilitating spiritual development, 2002
  • University of Dundee: MA in Advanced Professional Studies, 2001
  • Canterbury Christ Church University: MA in Lifelong Education and Professional Practice, 2006
  • University of Exeter, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapies (MBCT), School of Psychology, 2007
  • University of Exeter, Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, School of Education (Validated by the Higher Education Academy, 2007)

3. Peer Reviews undertaken for:

  • Australian Journal of Adult Learning
  • British Educational Research Journal
  • Studies in the Education of Adults
  • Studies in Philosophy and Education Teaching in Higher Education

4. Co-Editor of Succeeding with your Doctorate (J. Wellington et al, Sage, 2005)

External doctoral examining nationally and internationally

(Since 2001)

PhD External Examiner

  • Canterbury Christ Church University, 2013
  • University of Sheffield, 2010
  • Canterbury Christ Church University, 2009
  • University of Bath, 2008
  • University of Tasmania, 2003
  • University of New England, Australia, 2001
  • University of Kent at Canterbury, 2001

Professional Doctorate External Examiner Doctor of Education (EdD) Programmes:

  • University of Sheffield, 2009 - 2013
  • University of Huddersfield, 2008 - 2013

Individual Students:

  • Doctorate in Organisation Consulting (ADOC), Middlesex University/Ashridge Business School, 2013, 2012 and 2010
  • Doctor of Education (EdD), University of Leeds, 2012
  • Doctor of Education (EdD), University of Brighton, 2009
  • Doctor of Education (EdD), University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, 2007
  • Doctor of Education (EdD), Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, 2006-2009 (member of supervisory group)

Journal and book series Editorships and Editorial board membership

Journal for the Study of Spirituality

  • Chief Editor

Teaching in Higher Education (on SSCI, Taylor & Francis)

  • Executive Editor

International Encyclopedia of Adult Education (Palgrave Macmillan)

  • Consultant Editor

Other Consultancy (i.e. income generating work that is not research)

Expert Adviser: Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (Designation Scheme)

Research-based contributions to practitioner and academic conferences

  • (2012) 'Packaging positive thinking or returning to roots? Adult education and spirituality'. Keynote presentation: SCUTREA Pre-Conference: Lifelong Learning, Well-being and Personal Development (150th Anniversary Celebration of Vaughan College), University of Leicester (July).
  • (2011) 'Storying the world through spirituality'. Paper presented at the First Global Conference on Spirituality in the 21st Century: At the Interface of Theory, Practice, Pedagogy, Inter-Disciplinary.Net, Prague, Czech Republic, 20-22 March.
  • (2011) 'Is there room for vocation in "Academia plc"?' Paper presented at a conference entitled: Academia as workplace: Linking past, present and future, University of Oxford, 4-6 April. (2011) 'Exploring a possible interface between critical reflection and spirituality', Critical reflection in theory and practice: claims, counter-claims and innovations, ESRC Seminar Series, School of Management, University of Bath (September)
  • (2011) 'Spirituality in the context of professional reflective practice, Centre for the Study of Spirituality, University of Hull (May)
  • (2010) 'Understanding spirituality'. Paper presented at the First International Conference of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality: Spirituality in a Changing World, Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, 4-6 May.
  • (2010) '"Walking back to happiness": A reappraisal of spirituality as an aspect of adult and university education’. In B.Merrill and P.Armstrong (eds) Looking Back, Looking Forward: Learning, Teaching and Research in Adult Education – Past, Present and Future. Proceedings of the 40th Annual SCUTREA Conference, (pp.206-213), University of Warwick/ SCUTREA
  • (2009) ‘“They pass by themselves without wondering”: Using the self in, and as, research’. In P.Coare and L.Cecil (eds) Really Useful Research: Critical Perspectives on Evidence-based Policy and Practice in Lifelong Learning – Proceedings of the 39th Annual SCUTREA Conference, (pp.255-262), University of Cambridge/ SCUTREA.
  • (2009) ‘Seeking Integration: Spirituality in the context of lifelong learning and professional reflective practice in R.L.Lawrence (ed.) Honoring our Past, Embracing our Future - Proceedings of the 50th American Adult Education Research Conference, (pp. 155-160), National-Louis University/AERC, Chicago, IL.
  • (2009) (with W. Richardson and D. Fung) 'Hope, doubt and intellectual love: early career academics’ perspectives on academic practice'. Paper presented at a conference entitled: Beyond teaching and research - inclusive understandings of academic practice, University of Oxford, 13-15 December.
  • (2009) 'The "spiritual turn" and its implications for lifelong learning'. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education, University of Exeter, 20– 21 July.
  • (2008) In our end is our beginning: spirituality and the role of the adult educator. In J.Crowther et al (eds) Whither Adult Education in the Learning Paradigm? (pp.303-310) University of Edinburgh: SCUTREA.
  • (2008) ‘Spirituality as a dimension of professional practice’. British and Irish Association for Practical Theology Annual Conference: Worship, Spirituality and Practical Theology, Bristol (July)
  • (2007) (with L.West) Towards an understanding of what it might mean to research spiritually. In L.Servage & T.Fenwick (eds) Learning in Community. Proceedings of the joint Conference of the American Adult Education Research Conference (AERC) and the Canadian Association for Studies in Adult Education (CASAE) (pp.301-306), Mount St Vincent University, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • (2007) ‘Spirituality and lifelong learning’. International Conference on Guidance, Adult Education and Spirituality, Queens University, Belfast (July)

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I continue to be involved in the examination of doctoral work and consultancy on doctoral programmes.

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