Posts by Eline van Asperen

Cardiff SPCF

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:

Back in 2009, I was working as an administrative assistant at Cardiff University, and was eager to start a Christian staff network. In church one Sunday at the start of term, I met a new PhD student, Mike Newton, who was asking around about the idea of a Christian postgraduate group. We got chatting and quickly found we had a shared vision for Christian staff and postgrads to engage the university, and advertised a first meeting to explore the idea, in the university chaplaincy as a meeting place.

Continuing our series on local groups, Alan Chettle shares his experiences with us. Alan did his PhD in Manchester and has now gone back to Canada (where he’s spent most of his life) to take up an internship with the Graduate Student Ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Vancouver.

I came to the UK in 2006 to start my PhD at York University, not knowing anyone. Thankfully, in my first week there, the Christian Union distributed a leaflet in the college accommodation where I was staying, and I quickly became involved in the CU’s postgraduate small group. It was great to meet people who were also pursuing research, and together we grew in our faith and made small steps towards understanding the place of our scholarship within the larger picture of God’s kingdom.

I have wanted to be an academic since I was about 8 years old. I loved learning new things. In my free time and over the holidays, I would pursue what I in retrospect call ‘little research projects’, trying to learn as much as possible about a topic to advance my understanding. If I did well in school it would not be a problem to get into a good university. This is the good side of my life’s story.

Transforming the Mind 2015

Last weekend, about 45 Christian postgrads, postdocs, early career academics and those who work with them gathered at Dovedale House in the tiny village of Ilam in the Peak District. Together we worshipped, listened to talks, ate, shared our stories, went on walks and even had a barn dance! Having been to the conference every year since 2008, every year I am amazed again by the excitement that develops from recognizing each other’s passion and struggles as Christians in academia.

Last week we considered some of the contributions postgrads can make to their churches. This week, we’re turning the question around: how can churches support the postgraduates in their congregation?

At the FiSch Leader’s Conference, Andrew Basden showed us how a deeper understanding of God as Creator enables us to open up new avenues of meaning in our scholarship.

What impact does your faith have on your scholarship? From ‘basic’ to more complex, there are several ways in which our faith can support the content and conduct of our research:

In his second talk at the annual FiSch Leader’s Conference, Tom McLeish picked up where he had left off at the end of his first talk. He took us back to the Scriptures and the biblical idea of wisdom, showing how wisdom engages with the created world, and how wisdom should lead us to joined-up thinking.

A little while ago, I introduced you to Abraham Kuyper, also known as Abraham the Great. One of the things he was passionate about was Christian scholarship. This led him to founding and leading, as rector magnificus and as professor in theology and literature, a Christian university, the Free University in Amsterdam. Why did he think this was important, and what can we, as Christian scholars, take away from this?

Pages