The words of the co-founder John Hull tells of how ISREV began…

“In the 1960’s, the University of Birmingham was one of the leading centres for the study of the educational significance of the work of Jean Piaget. This work was led by E. A. Peel, then Professor of Educational Psychology. A number of researchers began to study the implications of Piaget for Religious Education. The most prominent of these were Ronald Goldman and Kenneth Hyde.

Among the many international visitors attracted by this work was John H. Peatling of the Character Research Project in Union College, Schenectady, New York. During his several visits to Birmingham, John Peatling and I had many discussions about trends in religious education in Britain and in the United States.

It was decided that it would be beneficial to bring together a group of religious educators from the two countries. These plans became more concrete when I visited Schenectady in 1977. It was decided to launch an international seminar which would meet for the first time the following year in Birmingham. Participation in the Seminar would be by invitation only, in order to maintain a proportionate representation from the USA, the UK, Canada, Scandinavia and other parts of the World.”

The first ISREV Sessions

The first Session of the Seminar took place in University Hall, one of the residential halls of the University of Birmingham, from July 3rd to 6th 1978. The meeting was welcomed by Professor Philip Taylor, Head of the Curriculum Studies Department and Dean of the Faculty of Education, and John Hull was in the chair. The second Session took place in Union College, Schenectady, USA, from July 7th to 11th 1980, with co-founder John Peatling in the chair.

Naming the Organisation

The original name was “International Standing Seminar on Religious Education and Value Potential”. This title brought together the Birmingham interest in Religious Education and John Peatling’s participation in the Character Research Project in Union College, together with its Journal Character Potential. However, it was agreed during the Session that the title should be simplified, and in discussion with John Hull, Brian Gates suggested that the Seminar should simply be called ISREV. This is why when issue No.18 of the CRP was published in Autumn 1978, the Seminar was already described as the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values.