Sandra Cullen


Profile Photo

Dr. Sandra Cullen is Associate Professor of Religious Education and Head of School of Human Development at the Institute of Education, DCU.  She teaches a  variety of modules under the broad heading of religious education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She completed a BRelSc,(Mater Dei Institute of Education), MEd (Boston College) and PhD (DCU). Sandra taught RE and English for 14 years in two Dublin schools. During these years she was actively involved in a number of adult education and teacher education programmes. In 2001 she was appointed to the staff of Mater Dei Institute where she taught RE and Theology and subsequently joined DCU in 2016.

Sandra's PhD explored the question of what constitutes an appropriate religious education for future teachers of RE. This question underpins much of her ongoing research and publications. She has supervised six doctoral theses to completion and is currently supervising five research students in a wide area of questions pertaining to religious education and related disciplines. She is currently the lead for RE Area of Professional Focus on the IOE's EdD programme and is developing a MEd Special Option in RE. 

As Director of the ICRE (Irish Centre for Religious Education), Sandra has a public profile in engagement with policy developments in RE, supporting teaching and learning in RE in a variety of contexts, and building international research networks. She has been invited to speak at a number of national and international conferences and symposia. She serves on the Board of Members of CEIST, CESC and is on the Executive of EFTRE (European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education). She is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Religious Education and the Greek Journal of Religious Education

Book Chapter

Year Publication
2023 Barnes, P., Lundie, D., McKinney, S., Williams, K. & Cullen, S. (2023) 'Religious education in the United Kingdom and Ireland' In: Debates in Religious Education. London : Routledge.
2022 Cullen, S. (2022) 'Two Roads Diverged: Policy Shifts in Second-Level Religious Education 1998–2020' In: Education Policy in Ireland Since 1922. London : Palgrave MacMillan.
2019 Sandra Cullen (2019) 'Turn up the volume: Hearing what the voices of young people are saying to religious education' In: Religion and Education: The voices of young people in Ireland. Dublin : Veritas.
2019 Sandra Cullen (2019) 'The religious education of the religion teacher in Catholic Schools' In: Global Perspectives on Catholic Religious Education Volume II: Learning and Leading in a Pluralist World. Switzerland : Springer.
2017 Cullen, Sandra (2017) '‘Interpreting between Spheres: Religious Education as a Conversational Activity’' In: Does Religious Education Matter?. London : Ashgate.
2016 Anderson, B., G. Byrne, and S. Cullen. . In (eds), E. Aslan and M. Hermanson, 2016, in print (2016) '‘Religious Pluralism, Education, and Citizenship in Ireland’' In: Aslan, E., Ebrahim, R., Hermansen, M(Eds.). Islam, Religions, and Pluralism in Europe. Dordecht : Springer.
2006 Sandra Cullen (2006) 'The role of the school in promoting inter-religious and inter-religious dialogue in multi-faith and multi-cultural environments' In: de Souza, M. Durka, G. Engebretson, Jackson, R. and McGrady, A(Eds.). International Handbook of the Religious, Moral and Spiritual Dimensions in Education Part Two. The Netherlands: : Springer.

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2024 Tania ap Siôn, Sandra Cullen, Sonja Danner, Bianca Kappelhoff & Eszter Kodácsy-Simon (2024) '“Covid made me think about…”? What really matters in RE: a European research project'. JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION, . [DOI]
2022 Cullen (2022) 'Pieces of a jigsaw: developing a theoretical framework for research in religious education'. JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION, .
2021 Kennedy, D.; Cullen, S. (2021) '‘So, Is It True?’ Time to Embrace the Hermeneutical Turn in Catholic Religious Education in the Republic of Ireland'. Religions, 12 . [Link]
2020 Sandra Cullen (2020) 'Book Review: Dealing with religious difference in kindergarten: an ethnographic study in religiously affiliated institutions'. British Journal of Religious Education, 42 (1):106-108. [Link]
2016 Sandra Cullen (2016) 'Review: Ryan Topping (ed.) Renewing the Mind: A Reader in the Philosophy of Catholic Education (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2015)'. .


Year Publication
2021 Sandra Cullen (2021) Caring for Those who Teach Online – Reflections from a Virtual Staffroom. BLOG [Link]

Conference Contribution

Year Publication
2023 (2023) The intersection of religious and citizenship education in Europe The contribution of RE to Citizenship Education – Republic of Ireland TU Dortmund, 26/10/2023-27/10/2023.
2023 Sandra Cullen (2023) THE FUTURES OF EDUCATION AND THE HUMAN CONDITION Educating for Hope: A response to the Global Compact on Education Dublin City University, .
2023 Sandra Cullen (2023) AULRE Annual Conference 2023 The Global Compact on Education: Educating for Hope Newman University, Birmingham, .
2021 Sandra Cullen (2021) International Knowledge Transfer in RE Invited symposium University of Cologne, 25/02/2021-26/02/2021.
2020 Sandra Cullen (2020) Opening Up Education: Options, Obstacles and Opportunities Reflexive practice with teachers of religious education – towards a theoretical frame DCU, 03/09/2020-05/09/2020.
2019 Sandra Cullen (2019) RE past, present and future Annual Meeting of Association of University Lecturers in Religious Education Newman University, Birmingham, 09/05/2019-10/05/2019.
2019 Sandra Cullen (2019) ‘Catholic Education: Formal, Informal and Lifelong’ Title of Paper: Talking About God – a neglected dimension of the RE classroom DCU, 17/10/2019-18/10/2019.
2019 Sandra Cullen (2019) From Theory to practice: Religious Education in the Classroom National Religious Education Symposium Darling Harbor, Sydney, .
2019 Sandra Cullen (2019) RE: Reconciling Realities EFTRE International Conference DCU, 28/08/2019-31/08/2019.
2018 Sandra Cullen (2018) Promoting a reflective praxis with teachers of Religious Education Network for Researchers in Catholic Education Annual Conference Newman University, Birmingham, 13/09/2018-14/09/2018.
2019 Sandra Cullen (2019) Revising the Religious Education Curriculum Directory Some insights from the Irish context: Negotiating the vision of Catholic RE within a State RE curriculum St. Katherine's Foundation, London, 04/01/2019-04/01/2019.
2018 Sandra Cullen (2018) Network for Researchers in Catholic education conference Paper: Promoting a reflective praxis with teachers of Religious Education Newman University, Birmingham, 12/09/2018-13/09/2018.
2018 Sandra Cullen (2018) International Conference on Catholic Religious Education in Schools The religious education of the religion teacher in a Catholic school Rabat, Malta, .
2017 Sandra Cullen (2017) Developing Research in Catholic Education Developing a conceptual framework for research in religious education Heythrop College, London, 19/09/2017-20/09/2017.
2015 AULRE (2015) Belief in Dialogue Interpreting Between Spheres: Religious Education as a Conversational Activity St. Mary's University, Twickenham, London, 01/09/2015-03/09/2015.
2014 (2014) ‘Share the Good News - Faith Renewal Today’ Knock, Co. Mayo, 21/08/2014-.
2014 (2014) Encountering the Word Clonliffe College, 13/02/2014-.
2014 (2014) 'Share the Good News: Faith Renewal Today Enniskillen, 03/12/2014-.
2012 (2012) Religion Teachers Association of Ireland: Leaving Certificate Coursework Day 'Women as Social Reformers' and 'A profile of Mary, the mother of Jesus' Mater Dei Institute, 28/01/2012-.
2012 (2012) Loreto Network Religion Teachers' Day Changing contexts for second level religious education Gresham Hotel, Dublin, 21/02/2012-.
2011 (2011) Inter-University Colloquium ‘Two Roads Diverged’: The changed landscape of second level religious education in Ireland’ St. Deinioil’s Library, Hawarden, 11/05/2011-13/05/2011.
2010 (2010) South Belfast South Belfast ecumenical study series The inclusive outreach of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel’ Malone Road, Belfast, 11/11/2010-.
2010 (2010) International Congress of Catholic Girl Guides 'The Women of the Gospels: Disciples and Missionaries' King's Hospital, Dublin, 12/08/2010-.
2009 (2009) Religious Education Association Annual Conference ‘Second level religious education in Ireland since 2000’ Dallas, Texas, 01/11/2009-03/11/2009.
2009 (2009) Religion Teachers Association of Ireland 'Feminist theologies and spiritualities' Kildare Teacher Education Centre, 17/11/2009-.
2007 (2007) Loreto Network Religion Teachers Day Approaches to the teaching of Religion and Gender Stillorgan, 23/03/2007-.
2006 (2006) Inter-University Colloquium 'Recovering Theologia: Edward Farley’s contribution to theological education' Mater Dei Institute, 11/04/2006-13/04/2006.

Discussion Paper

Year Publication
2019 NCCA (2019) Junior Cycle Religious Education Background Paper. DP [Link]


Year Publication
2019 Sandra Cullen (2019) Young demonstrate appetite to learn about religion in schools. NEWSA [Link]


Year Publication
2002 Sandra Cullen (2002) Communities of Faith in Ireland Today. SOFT

Other Publication

Year Publication
2013 Sandra Cullen (2013) Toward an Appropriate Religious Education for Future Teachers of Religious Education: Principles for a Theological Education Approach. Dublin City University:
2009 Sandra Cullen (2009) Irish and Catholic? Towards an understanding of identity (Dublin: The Columba Press, 2006).
2003 An Roinn Oideachas agus Eolaíochta (2003) Section C ‘World Religions’.
2000 Sandra Cullen (2000) Lenten Resources for Parishes (2000, 2001, 2002).

Other Journal

Year Publication
2014 Sandra Cullen (2014) '‘Religionsundervising i den irske republikken-et glimt inn I aktuell debatt’' Argang 26 .
2011 Sandra Cullen (2011) ''Handing on the Faith’' .
2008 Sandra Cullen (2008) 'Religion and Gender: Feminist Theologies' One :12-14.


Year Publication
2005 Sandra Cullen (2005) Religion and Gender. : Veritas.
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2024) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Professional Associations

Association Function From / To
Religious Education Association Member -
European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education (EFTRE) Member of Executive and Country Rep -
International Seminar for Religious Education and Values Member -
Association of University Lecturers in Religious Education -

Honors and Awards

Date Title Awarding Body
01/05/2018 Nominee: President's Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning President's Office DCU
01/01/2021 Nominee President's Award for Engagement DCU


Committee Function From / To
Catholic Education Services Committee 01/05/2019 - 30/04/2022
European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education Member of the Executive from 2016 01/09/2011 -
Director: ICRE - Irish Centre for Religious Education 03/10/2016 - 31/12/1999
CEIST - Catholic Education in Schools Trust 01/05/2008 - 31/12/1999
International Editorial Board, Religious Education Journal of Australia 01/10/2019 -


Start date Institution Qualification Subject
Dublin City University Doctor of Philosophy Religious Education
Mater Dei Institute of Education Bachelor of Religious Science Religious Education, Education, English
Boston College M.Ed. Religious Education, Theology


Journal Role
British Journal of Religious Education Reviewer

Other Activities

Aurora Women in Leadership Training Programme, 2018-2019: 5 day Development Programme

Enterprise Engagement

Year Engagement Type Client Description
2022 Invited talk/presentation Diocese of Elphin What research with young people has to say to ministry in Ireland
2021 Continuous Professional Development/Training Religion Teachers Association of Ireland RE seminars for Teachers of Senior Cycle RE
2019 Continuous Professional Development/Training Religion Teachers' Association of Ireland Convenor Leaving Certificate Coursework Day
2018 Continuous Professional Development/Training European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education CPD evening with teachers of Romanian Orthodox RE in Bucharest, Romania
2018 Continuous Professional Development/Training ICRE in collaboration with the Religion Teachers' Association of Ireland CPD for teachers of Leaving Cert Religious Education and workshops for second level RE students
2018 Continuous Professional Development/Training Diocese of Kerry Invited keynote speaker
2017 Consultancy NCCA Contributor to Background Paper for Junior Cycle RE
2017 Continuous Professional Development/Training European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education CPD evening with teachers of Greek Orthodox RE
2016 Continuous Professional Development/Training European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education Workshop for Lecturers in RE in Europe
2012, 2014, 2016 Consultancy Council of Europe Engagement with Director of Education, Council of Europe on issues concerning RE in Europe

Outreach Activities

Year Engagement Type Organisation Description
Advisory Work Catholic Education Service of England and Wales International consultant to the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales


Title Year Type Authors
Young demonstrate appetite to learn about religion in schools 2018 Newspaper article (online) Sandra Cullen

Research Interests

The religious education of the religious educator, developing a conversational role in religious education, the place and identity of religious education in the second level school, European approaches to religious education, the relationship between theology and religious education, theological education, teaching theology and religious education in local community settings, international knowledge transfer in RE

Research Projects

Title Role Description Start date End date
The Voices of Young People on Religion and Education: Research, Policy and Impact Conference Convenor 08/06/2018 09/06/2018
Mindfulness in Irish Primary Schools: Exploring the Phenomenon investigator and author 01/09/2015 30/06/2017
CPD and RE: An empirical Enquiry into the provision of CPD for RE teachers at primary and post-primary level in the Republic of Ireland Investigator and Author 09/01/2017 09/01/2018
Resourcing Junior Cycle RE in a digital age DCU PI 01/01/2021 31/12/2021

Current Postgraduate Students

Student Name Degree Supervision
Carroll ,Patricia PhD-track Supervisor
Conroy Johnson ,Marie PhD Supervisor
Turpin ,Gloria PhD Supervisor
Clare ,Philomena Doctor of Education Supervisor

Internal Collaborators

Type Name Company Role
Internal Dr. Bernadette Sweetman DCU Academic
Internal David Kennedy DCU Academic

Teaching Interests

Religious Education: History, Theories, Approaches, Current Issues, Interreligious religious education
Religious Education in a Globalising World
Principles of Faith Development
Building Faith Communities
Religious Learning in a Digital Age
Religion and Gender
Theology of Ministry

Modules Coordinated

Term Title Subject
2022 RE: Theories and Approaches ED3302
2022 ED1303
2022 HD8100
2022 ED4301
2022 Critical Issues in Religious Education HD123
2020 HD121
2020 ED9015