MA/MSc programmes in Spirituality, Theology & Health at Durham University
Cook, Christopher. MA/MSc programmes in Spirituality, Theology & Health at Durham University. 2016
The programme was established from the outset as an inter-disciplinary and interprofessional venture. Clergy, health professionals, theologians and scientists study together at MA/MSc level on the same programme in the same classroom. The intention was to create an inter-disciplinary conversation within which scientists and health professionals would become more aware of the theological questions and research pertaining to their work and, similarly, chaplains and theologians would have opportunity to engage with the scientific issues. Ultimately, it is hoped that this will break down the tendency (in the UK at least) to deal with spiritual separately from clinical (bio-psychosocial) aspects of healthcare in practice. The fundamental vision for the programme is one of the mutual interdependence of science and theology in providing a fuller understanding of the human condition. This vision is given expression by the working together of research active staff from theology, anthropology and health sciences, and by the classroom assignments and discussions which facilitate conversation and the working together of students from clinical, clerical, scientific and theological backgrounds. The anthropological foundation implicit to the programme is primarily theological, but this understanding of human beings as free agents in relationship to God or to “something more”. Similarly, the epistemological foundation is implicit rather than prescribed, and students and staff are free to explore different epistemological assumptions, but the prevailing ethos is one of theological critical realism.