The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. – Ralph Nichols
Much of my life is spent trying to understand, or helping other people who are trying to understand.
Recently, my focus has been on church in the UK and using research methods to help churches understand themselves better. This has led me to explore notions of being and longing and belonging in church contexts, and you can read some of my reflections on this here. I have a Doctorate and Master of Research and Master of Science degrees, all in the area of religion and development studies.
Previously, my research has been mainly overseas-oriented: my PhD (‘Negotiating the Powers: Everyday Religion in Ghanaian Society’, 2008) studied religion in everyday life in Ghana, and I’ve since worked on international development research projects looking at religion in Bangladesh, financial landscapes in Kenya and wellbeing in Zambia.
Each of these projects has required in-depth analysis of qualitative data, for which I’ve used NVivo, specialist data analysis software. I regularly teach and consult on NVivo on a range of levels, including student lectures, individual tutorials, staff training and tailored consultancy for research groups.
I enjoy living in the stunning city of Bath, in the UK. The University of Bath is where I studied for my MSc, MRes and PhD, and where I am regularly asked to teach NVivo. I’m churchwarden at St Swithin’s Church in the parish of Walcot, a role in which understanding also features strongly as I support the clergy in leading the congregation and ensuring the church runs smoothly.
However, I often flit back to the beautiful sand and skies of the North Norfolk coast, where I was born and grew up. My brothers and sisters and I have taken our family business, a fabulous 4 star guest house, restaurant and holiday cottages, into the third generation of Gravelings since it was opened by our grandparents in 1936. Take a look, at www.thegrovecromer.co.uk.