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Themes 

Some of our work is clustered around particular themes, chosen because they are already the subject of exciting work, and because we believe they have particular significance for the future of theological education. 

Each year, starting from 2017/18, we choose a new theme, and begin a three-year programme of activity surrounding that theme. We can, therefore, have three overlapping programmes running at once. 

Current and upcoming themes: 

 

 

Learning for the Whole of Life

Our 2021 symposium met to discuss a range of topics under the heading ‘learning for the whole of life’, focusing on learning through the whole of life, and the learning of the whole church.
 
Learning through the whole of life:

  • The importance of recognising that our students have already been learning, through their whole lives – and the dangers of infantilisation / deskilling where this is not recognised and celebrated;
  • The possibilities for TEIs to be involved directly in in lifelong learning
  • The need for TEIs to provide tools, habits and resources, for learning that will continue for the rest of someone’s life – including the nurturing of communities and networks that can sustain

Learning of the whole church:

  • How can the learning of the individual student be understood in relation to the ongoing learning of the whole church of which they are a part – the whole learning life of the Body? How does it feed from and feed into that wider learning?

 

Videos 

Participants in the symposium produced a series of short videos exploring ideas that had struck them during our discussions:

• Nick Shepherd, ‘Learning Church’
• Shemil Mathew, ‘Interconnectedness’
• Ian McIntosh, ‘The Whole Body’
• Liz Shercliff, ‘Hearing Voices’
• Clive Marsh, ‘Safety and Excitement’
• Keith Beech-Gruneberg, ‘Growing into Maturity’
• Mike Higton, ‘There is No Start’

If you want to get involved, please watch the videos below to get a sense of our initial exploration of the theme, and then consider submitting a proposal for a seedcorn grantIf you have any other questions or suggestions about the theme, please get in touch with Prof. Mike Higton. See our Contact Us page for details.  

 

 

 

 

Bodies and Pedagogies 

Our third theme is ‘bodies and pedagogies’. There are two aspects to this theme. 

  1. In theological education, the pedagogies we employ are always a form of work in or upon individual bodies. Explicitly and implicitly, our pedagogies work with people’s habits, dispositions, emotions, and memories; they shape people’s relationships, influence their stances towards one another, and play with their sense of identity. Our pedagogies are always, unavoidably, about much more than understanding and competencies. 

  2. In theological education, the pedagogies we employ are always a form of work in or upon the Body of Christ in its life in and for the world. Explicitly and implicitly, our pedagogies work with the relationships that unite that Body, the gradients of power that affect how it moves, the cultures that influence its life. In particular, our pedagogies always, unavoidably, affect the forms of diversity and inclusion – and the forms of marginalisation and exclusion – that shape the Body. 

Our central question for this cycle, then, is about how the embodied pedagogies of theological education can help shape a richly diverse, welcoming, and inclusive church. 

If you want to get involved, please watch the videos below to get a sense of our initial exploration of the theme, and then consider submitting a proposal for a seedcorn grantIf you have any other questions or suggestions about the theme, please get in touch with Prof. Mike Higton. See our Contact Us page for details.  

Bodies and Pedagogies Research Theme 

Videos 

For each theme, we gather an initial small symposium to do some initial exploration, and so in January 2020 a small group met to share existing work in this area, and to discuss some of the questions surrounding it. Several of the participants have produced short videos to express some of the ideas and questions that the symposium generated for them. 

See our Vimeo page to watch the following videos: 

  • Anthony Reddie, 'Going Deep' 
  • Ian McIntosh, 'Stories and Voices' 
  • Mike Higton, 'Shaping the Agenda' 

 This theme was also the topic of the 2021 Theological Educators’ Conference. Videos of the plenary sessions for that conference are available on YouTube:

Theological Reflection 

Our second theme is 'theological reflection'. There is a lot of talk of theological reflection in theological education, including around the Common Awards partnership. Yet there are multiple understandings of what the phrase means, how valuable it is, what methods are appropriate to it, and how it can be taught. It can have something of a 'marmite' effect on students: some can't get enough of it, others pull a sour face the moment they smell it. We are asking how best theological reflection can be understood, practised, and taught. 

If you want to get involved, please watch the videos below to get a sense of our initial exploration of the theme, and then consider submitting a proposal for a seedcorn grantIf you have any other questions or suggestions about the theme, please get in touch with Prof. Mike Higton. See our Contact Us page for details.   

Theological Reflection Research Theme

Videos 

For each theme, we gather an initial small symposium to do some initial exploration, and so in the Autumn of 2018 a small group met to share existing work on theological reflection, and to discuss some of the questions surrounding it. Several of the participants have produced short videos to express some of the ideas and questions that the symposium generated for them. 

See our Vimeo page to watch the following videos: 

  • Sarah Dunlop on training to be adaptable; 
  • Sally Nash on reflection as a spiritual practice; 
  • Frances Clemson on safety and risk; 
  • Clare Watkins asking whether theological reflection is a thing; 
  • Sarah Brush on a reflective church and reflective ministry; and 
  • Keith Beech-Gruneberg looking beyond dichotomies. 

Other Resources 

Our conversations were shaped by various resources, including: 

  • Pete Ward, Introducing Practical Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017) 
  • Gary O'Neill and Liz Shercliff, Straw for the Bricks: Theological Reflection in Practice (London: SCM, 2018) 
  • Eeva John, Naomi Nixon and Nick Shepherd, 'Life-changing learning for Christian discipleship and ministry: a practical exploration', Practical Theology 11.4 (2018), 300–314 

 

Receptivity 

Our first theme is 'receptivity'. A lot of interesting work is being done at the moment in this area: that is, on moving away from models of theology, ministry, mission, and education which focus on the flow outward – the flow from the 'centre' and out into the world – and which instead think about what the church receives at and beyond the edges of its current life. 

If you want to get involved, please watch the videos below to get a sense of our initial exploration of the theme, and then consider submitting a proposal for a seedcorn grant. If you have any other questions or suggestions about the theme, please get in touch with Prof. Mike Higton. See our Contact Us page for details.   

Receptivity Research Theme

Videos 

For each theme, we gather an initial small symposium to do some initial exploration, and so in the Spring and Summer of 2018 two small groups met to share existing work on receptivity, and to discuss some of the challenges that we saw the theme posing to the life of the church and the work of theological education. Several of the participants have produced short videos to express some of the ideas and questions that the symposium generated for them. (We also have a video from Ben Quash, who was unable to attend.) 

See our Vimeo page to watch the following the videos: 

  • Al Barrett, talking about ‘radical receptivity’, and the renewal of the church from the urban margins; 
  • Gabby Thomas, talking about the challenge of ‘receptive ecumenism’; 
  • Ben Quash, talking about ‘found theology’, and the way experience in the world can open up more of the faith the church has inherited; 
  • Shemil Mathew on the lessons we can learn from members of the Anglican diaspora; 
  • Sanjee Pereraon recepitivity - and the lack of it - in our liturgy; 
  • Cathy Ross on receptivity in missiology – and about receptive placements; 
  • Ken Farrimond on receptive mission, and the receptive Jesus; 
  • Lynne Cullens asking how the church can embrace a broader range of people, including in its leadership; 
  • Guli Francis-Dehqanion what receptive episcopacy might look like; 
  • Liz Kent on deep listening and transformational learning; 
  • Mike Higton on receiving more of our faith through inter-faith engagement; 
  • Keith Beech-Gruneberg on discernment and responsibility; and 
  • Mike Pears on receptive conversation. 

Other Resources 

You can find more of Al Barrett's reflections on his blog, and in an article 'Interrupting the church’s flow: hearing "other" voices on an outer urban estate’ from Practical Theology 11:1 (2018), 79-92. 

You can find out more about 'Receptive Ecumenism', and specifically about Gabby Thomas's project. 

You can visit the webpage for ‘Creative Conversations’, Mike Pears' and Cathy Ross’s project 'helping Christians to foster careful and thoughtful listening to voices of those who experience marginalisation, exclusion and deprivation through open-hearted attentiveness in order to become more aware of what’s happening in our communities’. 

Ben Quash explores the themes touched on in his video much more fully in his book Found Theology.