The ‘Developing a Christian Mind’ initiative was set up in Oxford by Donald Hay of Jesus College and the Department of Economics (formerly Head of the Division of Social Sciences) in academic year 2007-2008. Since then more than 350 graduate students and academic staff have participated.
The course provides space for postgraduate students, post-docs and faculty to consider how they integrate their Christian faith and their academic life. Through this, the programme aims to foster the development of a Christian intellectual community within and emerging from Oxford, enabling discussion, thought, and writing on relevant themes at a level consistent with the academic standards of the University as a whole. Although all lectures are given by Oxford academic staff, the course is not formally affiliated with the University of Oxford.
The programme is structured around two annual conferences:
Christianity and the Life of the Mind: An Introduction: The aim of these lectures is to introduce the concept of Christianity and the life of the mind. Through discussion and perspectives from theology, social sciences, and natural sciences, this conference seeks to provide intellectual tools that can be used to engage with the academic disciplines. Speakers include Alister McGrath, Elaine Storkey, Benno van den Toren, and Ard Louis.
Seeking Wisdom? Engaging the academic disciplines from the standpoint of faith: Building on the previous conference, this event features a series of disciplinary seminars. The range of disciplines addressed varies from year to year, but often includes streams in Physical and Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, Social Sciences, Law, Literature, and History.
Why should you be interested? Why is this needed?
Christian graduate students and post-docs at Oxford currently do not have many opportunities to integrate their Christian faith and their studies, with the result that many may leave without developing the capacity to think as Christians about their discipline, societal and ethical issues, and the discipleship of the mind. As a graduate or post-doc who follows Christ, the course seeks to equip you with useful intellectual and conceptual tools—a ‘Christian mind’—in the expectation that this experience will assist each person to develop and continue to refine informed and nuanced Christian intellectual responses throughout their lives, whether or not they spend their career in an academic setting. In short, this new initiative hopes to enable you in the community of other scholars to worship the Lord with all of your mind.
The following senior members of the university have given their full support to the new Developing a Christian Mind programme:
- Professor Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology; Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life; Christ Church, Oxford
- Professor Katherine Blundell, Professor of Astrophysics; St John’s College, Oxford
- Professor Stephen Blundell, Professor of Physics; Mansfield College, Oxford
- Professor Andrew Briggs, Professor of Nanomaterials; St Anne’s College, Oxford
- Sir Andrew Dilnot, Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford
- Professor Timothy Endicott, Professor of Legal Philosophy; former Dean of the Law Faculty; Balliol College, Oxford
- Donald Hay, former Head of the Division of Social Sciences; Emeritus Fellow and Tutor in Economics, Jesus College
- Professor Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University; Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion
- Professor Ewan McKendrick, University Registrar; Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
- Professor Stephen Tuck, Professor of Modern History; former Director of the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH); Pembroke College, Oxford
- Dr Ralph Walker, former Head of the Humanities Division; Emeritus Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, Magdalen College, Oxford
In its initial form, the Developing a Christian Mind programme is aimed at serving the academic community of Oxford University. For both practical reasons and to make the programme most useful to those involved, participation is limited to the following:
* Postgraduate students at Oxford University registered for the following degrees: M Sc, M St, M Th, MBA, MPhil, MPP, BCL/MJur, PRS and DPhil.
* Postdoctoral researchers
* Academic Staff (e.g. professors, lecturers, etc.)
* Other researchers and teachers in colleges or University departments, including academic visitors
If you are unsure of your eligibility, contact us using the contact page. Members of Oxford Brookes University in these categories are also welcome. Members of other universities are asked to contact us to check eligibility.
Christians from all denominations and traditions are welcome, as are those who are simply curious to learn more about how those who hold to the Christian faith engage with the life of the mind. We thrive on discussion and look forward to welcoming a variety of perspectives.
The programme has received financial support from the McDonald Agape Foundation, the Waterstone Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, and a number of private donors. The generosity of these foundations and donors is gratefully acknowledged. If you would like to support this programme, please click here to donate.
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