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CDAS members: Allan Kellehear, Tony Walter, Malcolm Johnson, Caron Staley, Una MacConville and Glennys Howarth

Press Release - 09 February 2007

Funeral directors sponsor death research centre

Academics from the Centre for Death & Society (CDAS) at the University of Bath have signed a unique sponsorship deal with the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) to help support research, education and policy development in the social aspects of death, dying and bereavement.

The £150,000 four-year deal will mean a close collaboration between the country’s leading death research centre and the primary funeral trade association which represents the interests of funeral directors conducting more than 80 per cent of funerals in the UK.

One of the major outputs from the collaboration could be the development of a foundation degree for funeral directors, which would give the sector its first standardised professional qualification.

This would complement the Masters programme in Death & Society which is a multi-disciplinary, social science programme for professionals, pre-doctorate students and anyone interested in studying in this important field. The MSc was launched by the Centre for Death & Society in October 2006.

Dr Glennys Howarth, Director of CDAS, said: “This important collaboration will be mutually beneficial, as creating partnerships between academia and business will enrich our research and understanding of this field whilst providing opportunities for educational and policy developments for our partners in the NAFD.

“Ten years ago very few people were looking at the subject of death from an academic perspective, but there has been a cultural revolution in the way we view death that has, in part, sparked greater academic interest in the subject.

“Increasingly, funeral directors and funeral homes are at the face of public understanding and expectations around death, funeral rituals and bereavement. Working with the National Association of Funeral Directors will strengthen our understanding of these issues and assist us in providing training for practitioners in the sector.”

Alan Slater, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Funeral Directors, said: “We are delighted to be working closely with the Centre for Death & Society to foster greater understanding of the funeral director’s role and to support initiatives which will promote professional development within the sector.”

CDAS was recently expanded with the arrival of two professors who specialise in the study of issues surrounding the subject of death.

Allan Kellehear and Tony Walter, from La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia) and Reading University (UK) respectively, joined Dr Glennys Howarth, Dr Una MacConville and Professor Malcolm Johnson (visiting professor from the University of Bristol) to form Europe’s leading research group on the subject of death.

“Allan and Tony are leaders in their field, and will help the Centre make a key contribution to the policies that impact on issues of mortality,” said Dr Howarth.

“They bring a wealth of expertise that, together with the other tutors at the University, will form a formidable resource for CDAS, the NAFD and the masters programme.”


The eighth international conference on the Social Context of Death, Dying & Disposal will be held in Bath from 12-15 September 2007. A call for papers has been issued with a closing date of 28 March 2007.

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