Faith in the Academy: Shaping Our Disciples
Exploring positive contributions that a Christian faith-perspective can make to core disciplines in today’s academy

The 2007 conference, which was jointly sponsored with the West Yorkshire School of Christian Studies, sought to explore some positive contributions that a Christian faith perspective could make to core disciplines in the contemporary academy.Christians engaged in higher education are called both to uncover and, where necessary, challenge basic assumptions that shape their respective fields, and to offer constructive directions for scholarship, pointing towards greater wholeness within the academy and more effective service beyond it. In our postmodern culture this requires a measured combination of humility about what Christians have to offer and quiet confidence in the transformative insights of the Gospel.

The aims of the conference were to stimulate participants to discern new opportunities opening up for them in their own fields, and to enable them to share their experiences, challenges and hopes as Christians in the demanding world of higher education today.This was acheived through a varied menu of presentations, workshops, discussion, time for prayerful reflection, and leisure.

Prior to the conference Prof Andrew Basden circulated a paper "Shaping My Discipline" which delegates found helpful in stimulating reflective thought on their discipline area.

Outcomes: Andrew Basden summarised the conference outcomes in a single word - "excellent".
He expands on this as follows - "I have been writing a report and, in doing so, realise how much came out of the two days. Here are some of the pointers that emerged on how we can contribute to shaping our disciplines and "tak[ing] captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ" (II Cor 10:5).

  • Nature of Christian Scholarship
  • Helping to re-integrate 'normative theory' with 'empirical science'
  • Helping the disciplines escape reductionism
  • Value concrete experience
  • Identify key theoretical issues
  • Develop non-dualistic Biblical worldview
  • Engage with Christian Voices
  • Find Friends
  • Historical analyses of the long-term impacts of worldviews
  • Contribute what is missing
  • Self-giving
  • Reestablish unity of the social + natural
  • Courage and humility
  • How to retain Christian stance
  • Systematic understanding of how beliefs and religious commitments influence science
  • Dooyeweerd's suite of aspects
  • Christian as working at the margins and therefore able to present fresh insights
  • Return to non-Christian cultures

To me, this is an excellent outcome.

For more details please refer to the following conference resources

Item Talks
Downloads
Plenary Talks    
  Jonathan Chaplin
(Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, Cambridge)
Christianity and Political Theory: Faith and Learning in a Social Science Discipline

Paper (Word format)

Talk (mp3 file 76MBytes)

  Adrienne Chaplin
(Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto)
Faith in Aesthetics: Art, Beauty and Perception in Christian Perspective

Paper (Word format)

Talk (mp3 file 81 MByes)

  Richard Weikart
(California State University, Stanislaus)
The Darwinian Worldview and Ethics

For many avid proponents, Darwinism is more than just a scientific theory of origins. They consider it an all-embracing explanation for just about every aspect of human existence, explaining human nature, behavior, and even religion. I will examine specifically the way that Darwinism has been applied to ethics, both in the past and today, and then I will suggest Christian responses.

Power Point Slides

Talk (mp3 file 71 MBytes)

Short Presentations    
  Andrew Basden
(Salford Business School, University of Salford)
Shaping the Information Systems Discipline

Why we need philosophy to understand information systems and what kind of philosophy we need.

Paper (Word format)

 

  David Booth
(University of Birmingham)
Biological science, cultural history and biblical scholarship: Christian theology of academic disciplines in the 21st century

Secularisation of British universities is also growth of specialisms needed to appreciate God’s creation, both social and natural. Christian academics face multidisciplinary tasks that re-establish the unity of the social and natural in God’s creation.

My talk will focus on a mental mechanism formed by interacting neurogenetics and family culture that not only differentiates us from the most similar existing species, as Genesis teaches that the image of God does, but also is remarkably close to what the whole Bible teaches that God is like.

Paper (Word format)

Power Point Slides

Talk (mp3 file 9 MBytes)

  Gwynne Davies
(Retired Academic and Chartered Civil & Structural Engineer)
Shaping Structural Engineering Design - Welded Tubular Steel Joints

1) Poor behavioural understanding and consequently inadequate design procedures.
2) Application of so-called neutral Newtonian Mechanics to theoretical and laboratory testing internationally for offshore/onshore locations in polar/equatorial regions based on risk assessment against flexibility, cracking, fracture and collapse under various external actions.
3) National value considerations; role of imperfections, variability and errors in joint fabrication.
4) Role of International Friends through Working Group contact and regular International Symposia.
5) Shaping of the design recommendations depended on the dynamic interaction of the Group’s individual members, involving courage and humility.

Paper (Word format)

 

Talk (mp3 file 12 MByes)

  Debbie Dickson
(Research student, School of Education, University of Nottingham)
Thinking Biblically about thinking Biblically: Chinese students and the UK church

In recent years a number of students from China have returned home having professed faith in Christ in the UK. Some, however, do not join the home church. My research will consider whether and how their core values, and thinking, actually change. This presentation introduces the research and the contribution it seeks to make.

Paper (Word format)

Talk (mp3 file 8 MBytes)

  Sue Halliday
Marketing
Talk (mp3 file 13 MBytes)
  Arthur Jones
(WYSOCS Senior Tutor)
Shaping Biology The missing link between the Bible and many areas of life today is a Biblical worldview.

But for a Christian critique of any field of research and teaching a worldview approach is not enough. For that we need a systematic understanding of how beliefs influence science. An appropriate analytical tool is outlined for biology and its use illustrated with reference to the fields of heredity and evolution.

Paper (Word format)

Power Point Slides

Talk (mp3 file 10 MBytes)

  Richard Russell
(Christian Studies Unit)
The constitution of any possible academic discipline

How every discipline is constituted by philosophy (ontology & epistemology) and how this in turn is controlled by religion - a model of how this works

Paper (Word format)

Talk (mp3 file 10 Mbytes)

 

  Roy Squires
The Systemic Nature of Knowledge and Ignorance

My research into the historical sociology of marginal medicine was the later impetus for further work on the systemic nature of knowledge/ignorance within the asymmetries of organisational power. We now need some serious work to develop an epistemology and phenomenology of ignorance.

Paper (Word format)

Power Point Slides

Talk (mp3 file 12 MBytes)

  Feedback Session Talks (mp3 file 68 MBytes)