"Engaging with our peers as Christian thinkers"
11th September 2010 Conference


Abstracts of Papers



Title: Seeking laws of nature in community ecology


Author: Gunton, Richard


Abstract: Ecological theorising about the structure of communities of plants and animals has been marginalised in recent decades but may be on the brink of a revival.  Despite the dominance of a Darwinian paradigm focusing on individual species as unique, proposed ecological laws unifying the diversity of living organisms via the interplay between evolution and thermodynamic constraints have attracted enthusiasm and shown some correspondence with observation.  As a critical enthusiast, I am keen to explore the nature and validity of such laws of ecology that may help bring coherence to an unwieldy science and allow textbooks to be shorter.  I believe that a Christian philosophy of science should help me understand this situation and may even guide my contribution to developing community ecology.
Click here to read  paper (pdf format)



Title: What might a Christian perspective on statistics be?


Author: Hutton, Jane


Abstract: How does statistics help or hinder Christians, who want to love God and their neighbours, and be a light in the world? Is it folly to try to quantify the worth of actions or people: Biblical censuses were not always approved by God? Or, following on from the simple observations of Proverbs, and Jesus' remark about being able to detect the signs of the times, do we have an obligation to try to achieve statistical literacy?


I will suggest that in order to be responsible in our service, we need to be able to critically consider the opportunities our society offers. We have to decide which mission, charity, school, health system or government to support. We need both to consider their stated principles, and consider what numerical evidence there is or might be. I also ask when should we insist on people not being measured.


Title: Responding to the call?  Towards an integration of theology, work and organization.


Author: Jenner, Shirley


Abstract: This discussion session is intended to create a space to reflect upon the scope  for drawing upon theological concepts in analysing the way we think about organizations. This is in response to a call for Papers by the journal “Organization”  ( deadline 30th October 2010). The Editors believe that “Theological concepts to a large extent define the limits and possibilities of thinking and theorizing about work and organization”. Here they draw on the ideas of political theologian Carl Schmitt.  The editors also expressed an interest in “how the spiritual and its exclusion from the industrial organization is a defining character of modern work”.  Interested parties are invited to draw upon theological concepts with a view to “enhance our understanding of organization a life”.


The session we consider some of issues involved in attempting to respond to this call and invite contribution from participants.   I would begin to scope out the contours of a Christian theology of work.  In doing so I would refer to the possibility that the exclusion of and separation from the deeper , theological meanings of work might explain the current modern malaise of alienation and disenchantment in society generally  and to paid work in particular. This would allow reference to both orthodox and critical organization/management theory to be considered.  



Title: Can Christianity be used as an underpinning philosophy and an academic integrity context for the teaching of a UK business school?


Author: Muskett , David


Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to explore how far Christianity may be relevant to a 21st century school of business from the perspective of both an underpinning philosophy and as an academic integrity guide. Here the writer declares a direct interest as a regular worshiping Christian in a Methodist church in Knutsford Cheshire. The issue of whether this specific perspective could be used more widely as a teaching philosophy, rather than being ‘ghettoised’ in the more focused and secular subject areas of Business Ethics or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), where it currently may be given at least, an honourable mention by some, is what is being explored in this paper.


Click here to read paper (pdf format)



Title: Social epidemiology- theory and philosophy


Author: Perlman, Francesca


Abstract: In this presentation, I give a brief outline of social epidemiology, the leading theories, and the philosophies that underpin them. I then discuss the importance as a Christian


Click here to read paper


Title: Christianity and Character Education


Author: Pike , Mark


Abstract: Character education is important within the Christian tradition but is viewed with suspicion by educators who privilege autonomy as the aim of a liberal education. Equally, Christians may have concerns that character education places too great an emphasis upon good works rather than God’s grace. This article reasons that character education need not be indoctrinatory, in the pejorative sense, on the one hand nor conflated with Christianity on the other. It shows that Christian-ethos schools can promote the autonomy of their students in matters of religion while also providing character education that enables them to choose well. Research from a case study of character education in a school with a Christian ethos is drawn upon to illustrate the capacity such schools have for sharing values while disagreeing about their sources. This is seen as an important feature of character education that is critical and also fosters a tolerant, respectful and inclusive school and society. It is suggested that acknowledging this complexity demonstrates an appreciation of the value of the Christian tradition in character education and the value of this tradition within schooling. It also clearly distinguishes between being a Christian and being of good character.


Click here to read paper



Title: Epistemology, Story-telling and Pedagogy


Author: Roques, Mark West Yorkshire School of Christian Studies


Abstract: Summary of Epistemology, Story-telling and Pedagogy


In this short paper I tell a story about nomads who have impressive ‘knowledge’ of their camels. This knowledge is vital to the nomadic way of life. Positivist or objectivist epistemologies negate and destroy this nomadic kind of knowing by insisting that all knowledge must be explicit and completely specifiable. I then sketch Polanyi’s view of tacit knowledge and Dooyeweerd’s rich and multi-layered ontology. This allows us to develop a very different epistemology where we can make sense of nomads having ‘smell’ knowledge which allows them to know exactly where water can be found. In this view there are many different kinds of knowledge and they are all important as we go about caring for and managing God’s good creation. In conclusion I relate these insights to story-telling and pedagogy.


Click here to read paper