As a new academic year starts, we’re delighted to welcome Dr Alastair Lockhart to Churchill College as our new Senior Postgraduate Tutor.

Alastair has had a long association with the University of Cambridge. He studied as an undergraduate in Theology and Religious Studies at Magdalene College, with a focus on Science and Religion, and a dissertation on the Problem of Evil, and later as a PhD student, also at Magdalene, he worked as an historian for the Psychology of Religion Research Group in the Faculty of Divinity. His doctoral thesis, on ‘Religion, Psychology and Metaphysics in Interwar Britain’ examined the historical development of psychological thinking in Britain from the early-19th century up to the mid-20th, and uncovered the ways in which philosophical idealism and new psychological ideas coalesced in distinctive ways in Britain before World War Two. Alastair joins Churchill following several years as a Fellow, Tutor, and Deputy Senior Tutor at Hughes Hall – a postgraduate and mature undergraduate College of the University.

Between his two Cambridge degrees, Alastair worked in commercial media contexts as a web programmer and researcher, and completed an MSc in Computer Sciences and then an MA in the Psychology of Religion at the University of London. Following his PhD, he was a Research Associate, and then an Affiliated Lecturer, in the Faculty of Divinity in Cambridge. 

Alastair’s research is at the interface of historical, social scientific, and religious studies approaches. In addition to his role at Churchill, he is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and presently a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College, London, and an Academic Director at the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements. He has carried out detailed work on the archives of the Panacea Society, a proto-feminist and spiritualist religious group that emerged in Bedford, UK, in the aftermath of the First World War. With a special study of the USA, the UK, Jamaica, and Finland, the project examined letters sent to the Society from people around the world to uncover processes of meaning-making and religious creativity through the 20th century amongst people normally lost to the historical record. His current research focus is on 20th-century religious thinking as it interacts with putatively non-religious things – for example, the impact of the 1945 atomic bombs on people’s ideas about meaning, transcendence, and the end of the world.

Of his role at Churchill College, Alastair said, “Having benefited myself from the teaching and research support provided by the University of Cambridge as an undergraduate, postgraduate, postdoctoral researcher, and teacher, I have a strong sense of the enormous possibilities and challenges involved in living, working, and studying as part of the University, and the value of College support to help students achieve their best possible outcomes. It is wonderful to have this opportunity to be embedded at a remarkable College like Churchill, and to help develop and support the College’s postgraduate community.”