Professor Donald Christie retired as Head of the School of Education at the University of Strathclyde in 2014 and was awarded Emeritus status by the University. A Chartered Psychologist and former primary school teacher with previous research experience in pure and applied cognitive psychology, he took up his first lectureship in 1984 in the Psychology Department of the former Jordanhill College. After the merger of Jordanhill College with the University of Strathclyde in 1993, he served in several senior roles in the former Faculty of Education, including a 3-year term as Vice-Dean (Research), before being appointed in 2010 as the first Head of the School of Education, when it was formed as part of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
He was Convenor of the collaborative research network on Learners, Learning and Teaching, part of the £2 Million Applied Educational Research Scheme funded by the Scottish Executive/Government and the Scottish Funding Council from 2004-2009. Within this Network, he was director of two projects: (a) fostering and investigating collaborative communities of enquiry and (b) teachers as learners in the context of continuing professional development. He was director of a project funded by the UK ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme concerned with supporting collaborative group work in Scottish primary schools and a follow-up study of peer learning through transition into secondary schools funded jointly by ESRC and the Scottish Executive. From 2006 to 2010, he was Co-Director of the research to support Schools of Ambition project funded by the Scottish Government. He has also more recently collaborated with wife and former colleague, Dr Claire Cassidy, in examining children’s dialogue and participation stimulated by the Community of Philosophical Inquiry approach in schools and a range of other educational contexts.
He was a member of the University of Strathclyde Ethics Committee from 2005-2011 and was co-author of the Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research of the Scottish Educational Research Association, of which he is an Honorary Life Member and a former President. He was for many years a member of the ESRC Peer Review College, still acts as a assessor of research proposals for the Carnegie Trust and as a reviewer for several research journals.
Professor Christie, in his Emeritus role, has remained interested in collaborative approaches to research and occasional teaching in three areas:
(1) Children’s social learning and development, collaborative group work; children’s rights and fostering pro-social behaviour in schools;
(2) Frameworks for, and processes of, initial and continuing professional learning and development in the teaching profession; and
(3) Communities of enquiry and collaborative approaches to research in education and social policy.
He is currently involved in a school-based project linked to the Scottish Government's Attainment Challenge, which draws together the above three strands of his research. Since retiring, Professor Christie has continued to mentor and support research students and early career researchers in the School of Education. He has had a particular interest in, and has continued to be actively involved in, the collaboration between the School of Education at Strathclyde and colleagues in the School of Educational Sciences at Nanjing Normal University (NNU) in China. This has resulted in a significant student exchange programme and joint research activity. In 2015 Professor Christie enjoyed a period in China as visiting Professor at NNU. In 2018, he will make his sixth visit to China on the occasion of the second joint Strathclyde/Nanjing Normal educational research symposium in May 2018.
Professor Christie was Head of the School of Education during discussions to establish the Age Friendly University and is very interested in getting involved in the further development of this important international initiative and the Age Friendly Academy at Strathclyde. He has recently accepted the invitation to be the Honorary Patron of the Learning in Later Life Students' Association at Strathclyde's Centre for Lifelong Learning.