The Durham University Centre for Spirituality, Theology & Health (CSTH) aims to further inter-disciplinary research in spirituality, theology and health, and especially to engage theology with scientific research findings and clinical practice. Spirituality has become a subject area of increasing interest in health research over the last 40 years. Scientific studies have shown protective benefits of religious or spiritual practice, and/or spiritual/religious affiliation, in a variety of physical and mental disorders. Interest is increasingly turning to therapeutic interventions that take advantage of the benefits of such practices and affiliations. However, theology as a discipline has not significantly contributed to this research. CSTH aims to make its core contribution by fostering interdisciplinary research that is inclusive of theology, and of the interdisciplinary study of spirituality. It aims specially to prioritise research with relevance to clinical, pastoral and spiritual practice.
To promote interdisciplinary research and teaching within Durham University and further afield in the subject areas of spirituality, theology and health.
The Durham University 'Project' for Spirituality, Theology & Health (PSTH) was established in 2005, with the support of the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, as a collaboration between the Department of Theology & Religion (DTR) and the School for Medicine, Pharmacy & Health (SMPH). The PSTH has since supported research that has delivered a series of academic outputs (including four edited volumes and three monographs by its Director, Professor Cook) and a series of collaborative conferences with local NHS partnership. It provided the basis for a significant impact case study for REF2014, which was commended by the review panel. PSTH has a regular postgraduate seminar series that includes the recording of seminar speakers and making available of these recordings on the internet. The PSTH attracted a significant number of PhD and DThM students, whose areas of research included such diverse topics as dissociative identity disorder, resilience, sexual addiction, design of a spiritual intervention for use in the mental healthcare context, coproduction of mental health services in the NHS, the 'evil eye' in Greek culture, and the nature of spirituality in Turkey.
The PSTH generated a new and innovative MA/MSc programme in Spirituality, Theology & Health, which ran from 2012–2019 but closed following the removal of SMPH to Newcastle University. This programme was internationally unique in its interdisciplinary and interprofessional approach and received an honorary mention in the 2018 Expanded Reason Awards. The CSTH continues the delivery of educational objectives through conferences, seminars, postgraduate research supervision, and other channels.
In 2018, the PSTH was formally constituted as a Durham University research centre and is now known as the Centre for Spirituality, Theology & Health (CSTH).