Research

Research cover image

Researching Character

To inform our practical programme and advance academic knowledge, we are conducting a multi-year research project in character and moral formation.

Academic Research

In collaboration with the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life, a research institute at the University of Oxford, the Oxford Character Project is conducting theoretical and empirical research on character and moral formation, investigating and formulating postgraduate-specific accounts of character development, and using quantitative and qualitative tools to measure and improve practical programming. We intend to publish academic articles, chapters, and books that disseminate the results of our research.

Curriculum for Character Development

By integrating high-level academic research and practical programming, Oxford Character Project also intends to develop a curriculum for postgraduate character development, which can be implemented by other universities, professional schools, and educational institutions around the world.

The Arts of Leading

‘The Arts of Leading’ is a research project that has grown out of our engagement with the humanities over the last two years. Our aim is to promote a wider discussion about character and leadership grounded in study of the humanities. Taking leadership as a fundamentally human category and making personal formation and human flourishing central to our discussion, we are seeking to draw diverse voices into a conversation that explores the relation between ideals of effective leadership and questions concerning who we are and who we aspire to become.
See our page on The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) website.

Lectures in this series are detailed below:


  • Public Sex: Josephine Butler and human trafficking in Victorian England image

    Public Sex: Josephine Butler and human trafficking in Victorian England


    May 18th 2017, 5:30 - 7:00

    Professor Sarah Williams

    Professor in the History of Christianity at Regent College, Vancouver


  • Start where the people are: leadership and the civil rights movement image

    Start where the people are: leadership and the civil rights movement


    November 3rd 2016, 17:00 - 19:00

    Professor Stephen Tuck

    Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford


To listen to Sarah Williams' talk please click on this link Public Sex: Josephine Butler and Human Trafficking in Victorian England


In conjunction with the McDonald Centre, the Oxford Character Project is convening an ongoing academic seminar on ‘The Formation of Moral Character', which invites experts from various disciplines and institutions – including education, business, government, health care, and the military – to discuss their distinctive approaches to leadership and moral formation and to talk with Oxford Character Project leaders and participants about ways to integrate their insights into ongoing efforts in moral education and professional development.

The seminar is convened by Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, and Michael Lamb, McDonald-Templeton Post-Doctoral Fellow in Character and Moral Formation.


  • Respectful Engagement in Organizations image

    Respectful Engagement in Organizations


    May 20th 2015, 16:00 - 17:30

    Professor Sally Maitlis

    Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Leadership, Said Business School, University of Oxford

  • Reinventing the Corporation image

    Reinventing the Corporation


    June 10th 2015, 16:00 - 17:30

    Professor Colin Mayer

    Peter Moores Professor of Management Studies, Said Business School, University of Oxford

Past Talks

2014 - 2015 Talks

  • Education in an Ethos at the Royal Military Academy image

    Education in an Ethos at the Royal Military Academy


    January 27th 2015

    Dr Stephen Deakin

    Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst; Respondent: Major-General (ret’d) Tim Cross

  • Moral forces: The Search for 'Integrity' in Professional Military Development image

    Moral forces: The Search for 'Integrity' in Professional Military Development


    February 24th 2015

    Dr Patrick Mileham

    Former soldier and academic; Respondent: Rev Dr Phillip McCormack, Chief Instructor at the UK Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre

  • Developing Dispositions through Religious Education image

    Developing Dispositions through Religious Education


    November 18th 2014

    Dr Marius Felderhof

    Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham

  • The Problematics of Character Education image

    The Problematics of Character Education


    October 21st 2014

    Professor Kristján Kristjánsson

    Professor of Character Education and Virtue Ethics, School of Education, University of Birmingham

Show Talks

Ethics through Fiction and Film

What can great books and films teach us about moral complexity and the human experience? How do creative genres engage, provoke, or challenge our values or vision in ways that abstract philosophical analysis cannot? What can we learn from each other by reading books and watching films together?

These are the questions that animate the Oxford Character Project’s Ethics through Fiction and Film Reading Group, which meets each term to discuss novels and films that prompt moral reflection and raise complex questions about the relationship between ethics, fiction, and film.

We have recently discussed the following novels and films:

* Ian McEwan’s Atonement and the 2007 film starring Keira Knightly, James McAvoy and Benedict Cumberbatch

* Toni Morrison’s Beloved and the 1998 film starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover

* Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now

This group is open to postgraduates at the University of Oxford. Postgraduate students from all disciplines and programs are welcome to attend. No specific academic qualifications are required, except an eagerness to explore interesting books and engage thoughtfully and respectfully. The group will meet twice a term – one week to discuss the novel and the next week to watch the film.

The group is organized by Dr Jonathan Brant, Founding Director of the Oxford Character Project. For more information or to join the mailing list, email Jonathan ([email protected]).

Publications and Bibliography

Recent Publications by Members of The Oxford Character Project

  • 'A Passion and Its Virtue: Aquinas on Hope and Magnanimity'  primary image

    Michael Lamb

    'A Passion and Its Virtue: Aquinas on Hope and Magnanimity'

    Mohr Siebeck, 2015

    An article within the edited volume 'Hope' ed. by Ingolf U. Dalferth and Marlene A. Block

    Buy now

Select bibliography on character, virtue, and moral formation

  •  Theory of Virtue: Excellence in Being for the Good primary image

    Robert Merrihew Adams

    Theory of Virtue: Excellence in Being for the Good

    Oxford University Press, 2006

    Buy now
  • Intelligent Virtue primary image

    Julia Annas

    Intelligent Virtue

    Oxford University Press, 2011

    Buy now
  • The Morality of Happiness primary image

    Julia Annas

    The Morality of Happiness

    Oxford University Press, 1993

    Buy now
  • The Road to Character primary image

    David Brooks

    The Road to Character

    Allen Lane, 2015

    Buy now
  • Virtue: NOMOS XXXIV primary image

    John W. Chapman and William A. Galston, eds.

    Virtue: NOMOS XXXIV

    New York University Press, 1992

  • How Should One Live? Essays on the Virtues primary image

    Roger Crisp, ed.

    How Should One Live? Essays on the Virtues

    Oxford University Press, 1996

  • Virtue Ethics primary image

    Roger Crisp and Michael Slote, eds.

    Virtue Ethics

    Oxford University Press, 1997

    Buy now
  • Putting on Virtue: The Legacy of the Splendid Vices primary image

    Jennifer Herdt

    Putting on Virtue: The Legacy of the Splendid Vices

    Chicago University Press, 2008

    Buy now
  • On Virtue Ethics primary image

    Rosalind Hurthouse

    On Virtue Ethics

    Oxford University Press, 1999

    Buy now
  • Thinking about Leadership primary image

    Nannerl O. Keohane

    Thinking about Leadership

    Princeton University Press, 2010

    Buy now
  • After Virtue, 2nd Edition primary image

    Alasdair MacIntyre

    After Virtue, 2nd Edition

    University of Notre Dame Press, 1984

    Buy now
  • Moral Character: An Empirical Theory primary image

    Christian Miller

    Moral Character: An Empirical Theory

    Oxford University Press, 2013

    Buy now
  • Character and Moral Psychology primary image

    Christian Miller

    Character and Moral Psychology

    Oxford University Press, 2014

    Buy now
  • Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing primary image

    Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe

    Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing

    Riverhead Books, 2010

    Buy now
  • Virtues and Their Vices primary image

    Kevin Timpe and Craig Boyd, ed

    Virtues and Their Vices

    Oxford University Press, 2014

    Buy now
  • Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge primary image

    Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski

    Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge

    Cambridge University Press, 1996

    Buy now
Load More