On 15-17 March 2019, about ten invited delegations of academics, postgrads and postgraduate ministry leaders gathered in New College, Oxford for the first Catalysing Postgraduate Ministry conference organised by the Oxford Pastorate as a spin-off of the Developing a Christian Mind conference. Both conferences took place in parallel, which fuelled exchange between the groups.
Christian postgrad groups
When God's Spirit brings about a movement of change, it often seems to begin in disparate places and diverse ways through people who don't know each other. For example, a remarkable number of broadly Evangelical organisations for cultural engagement seem to have sprung up in England in the 1980s – of which Thinking Faith Network (originally WYSOCS) is one. Now in our own time, I believe God is doing something important for Christian engagement in academia in Europe – starting with Christian doctoral students.
Last weekend in Oxford saw the second of this year's Developing a Christian Mind conferences - an annual pair of events inviting postgraduate students to consider and deepen the intersection of their academic work with Christian faith. 'Seeking Wisdom' is split into multiple disciplinary streams (this year, Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Philosophy & Theology) to enable more specific conversations to take place on how Christians think and work in particular academic fields.
Bruce Wearne encourages students to reflect upon institutional relationships in academic life and the effect of higher education reform.
I first developed the above diagram as a part of my response to what was happening at Chisholm Institute of Technology (CIT) in Melbourne back in the 1980s. CIT was part of the “binary system” of higher education in Australia, in which the Institutes of Technology and Colleges of Advanced Education were considered a “cheaper but equal” alternative to universities.
Oxford's Graduate Christian Forum welcomes visitors - and makes its lecture recordings available online.
Chris Watkin, Senior Lecturer in French Studies at Monash University, Australia, recalls the origins of CHAS:
We continue our journey around the country in search of Christian postgraduate groups, and today we are visiting Wales, where a group of Christian staff and postgraduates named ‘CriSP’ has been meeting for a number of years. Founding member Caleb Woodbridge recalls:
This week we return to our series on local Christian postgraduate groups with a contribution from the Nottingham group. This group has been running for quite a number of years, with ups and downs. Alison Woodward and Esther Mokori tell us what they are up to at the moment:
Dr Xia Zhu describes the role of Christian academic groups in her faith:
I was brought up and educated in a system which believes in no god and claims that the reason why so many gods look like men is because they are simply human illusions. Ironically, it was in order to understand a different culture that I was encouraged to read the Bible by a professor from my undergraduate studies.