Punjab Research Group


Posted in News/Information by Pippa on October 29, 2013

For many students and teachers of religious education the name of Dr Owen Cole, who died on Saturday 26 October, immediately signals the study of Sikhism.  Owen Cole, a historian by training, from a non-conformist Christian family, was a distinguished, pioneering religious educationist.  From his friendships with people of different faiths grew a staunch commitment to the transformation of religious education from instruction primarily in the Christian faith to a subject that would develop an understanding and appreciation of world faiths.  Sikhs became part of Owen Cole’s life when he moved to Leeds for a lectureship in 1968. In 1969 Owen and other educationists founded the influential Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education. His commitment to multi-faith religious education and his close friendship with Piara Singh Sambhi led to many single-authored and joint publications for schools on the Sikh tradition, as well as substantial works including The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices and Sikhism and Christianity A Comparative Study. Owen Cole firmly described himself as a ‘populariser rather than a scholar’, yet his role in furthering an informed understanding of Sikh tradition is incalculable.  For many years he co-edited the annual Sikh Bulletin. Archbishop Runcie appointed Owen Cole as his interfaith consultant. Owen also ensured that a rendering (by Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh) of passages of the Guru Granth Sahib was included in the Sacred Literature Trust Series. The teaching of the Sikh Gurus provided an inspiration for Owen Cole’s lifelong commitment to truth and justice.

By Professor Eleanor Nesbitt, University of Warwick

One Response

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  1. Pritam Singh said, on October 29, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Owen Cole’s contribution to bringing the understanding of Sikhism to the wider British society is indeed significant. I met him only once at a dinner with the late Sardar Patwant Singh and his wife Meher in Delhi at their house. I was touched by his gentle and self-effacing personality.

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