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Sarah Garlington, MPhil 2006-07


I completed my MPhil in Ecumenics at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College, Dublin in 2007. Before entering the program, I worked with various populations as a social worker and completed my Master's in Social Work at the University of Tennessee. As a social worker, I experienced conflict in communities based on values and religious differences, and I engaged in interfaith work to address social welfare problems. I grew up in rural southern Appalachia where much of the population identified as Evangelical Christians, and these religious affiliations and beliefs felt like defining factors in community relationships in this very economically marginalized region. I came to ISE with a desire to understand how religion defines communities, and in particular how (at the time) religious extremism might be understood as more than a set of confining, authoritarian beliefs. I also was seeking a more theoretical (and theological) context for my social work interests. Through the program at ISE and the support of the faculty, I was able to build a more solid foundation of social critical analysis that has structured my research and ongoing social work practice (doctoral and post). I developed stronger writing skills through the essay assignments, sharper analysis skills through class discussions and lectures, and a more nuanced worldview through exposure to speakers, faculty, other students, and extra-curricular activities. I especially benefited from the access to peace study courses to supplement the ecumenics course work and from the supportive relationships with faculty. My success in the doctoral program at Boston University and ongoing research at Ohio University is rooted in the foundation of my work at ISE.

Hugh Durnin


I had always been interested in the relationship between theology and culture and how that influenced historical and ecclesial relationships. I enrolled in the M.Phil. (Ecum.) in 2002 (now entitled M.Phil. Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies) course in 2002, after a life long involvement in theology in the local context with many questions seeking answers. The course was both challenging and stimulating, challenging as it focussed on long held theological perspectives, and it stimulated recognition that there was a broader range of theologies that represented different social and cultural contexts.

Having completed the M.Phil., I have participated and contributed to theological conferences and find that my interest has sustained me in my Life-Long Education broadening horizons and challenging expectations. In addition I have formed many friendships as a result of my engagement with ISE and would encourage anyone to consider studying with ISE for the support and care shown by all the staff to students.


Last updated 13 December 2016 by Irish School of Ecumenics (Email).