An academic from the University of Wolverhampton, Dr Opinderjit Kaur Takhar, has been awarded the MBE for her contribution to Sikh community research in the Birthday and New Year Honours List. Dr Takhar is Director of the recently launched Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies at the University, as well as Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies in the Faculty of Arts, and will receive her award later this year at a Buckingham Palace ceremony.
Dr Takhar undertakes a variety of research specialising in subject matter relating to the Sikh community, as well as topics including caste and gender balance.
She has presented her research in universities across the world, produced textbooks and a teacher’s guide for the OCR GCSE syllabus on philosophy and ethics, and written numerous educational resources for RE Today publications. Her 2005 book, ‘Sikh Identity’, is used as a key text in universities across the world.
Dr Takhar is also a regular participant on discussion programmes and panels on Sikh media channels. She has regularly contributed to the British Sikh Report, as well as the UK Sikh Survey, and was one of the authors of the Sikh Manifesto ahead of the 2015 General Election.
Dr Takhar said: “I am absolutely thrilled and humbled to have been nominated for such a prestigious award. I am committed to bringing faith communities together, whilst at the same time raising the profile of the Sikh community.
“Working at the University of Opportunity, it is essential that we all make a valid contribution to promoting equality and diversity, and I hope that my research is enriching the lives of our students as well as our communities.”
Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “Engaging tirelessly with local, regional, national and international community groups and governing bodies, Dr Takhar is consistently raising awareness of issues that affect the Sikh community in the UK and abroad.
“The West Midlands has a large and well-established Sikh community, as well as people from all faiths and none. Dr Takhar’s research, combined with her personal high profile, is consistently having an impact on people’s lives by bringing communities together, as well as helping to raise the profile of the University.”
The University of Wolverhampton launched its new Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies – the first of its kind in the UK – earlier this year. It will offer PhDs and Master’s level courses in Sikh studies, as well as continuing professional development (CPD) courses for teachers and managers of diverse workforces, such as national and local government, the NHS and the emergency services.