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Contextual Theologies and Interfaith Relations

Every theology is contextual and political, but not every theology is liberative. The MPhil in Contextual Theologies and Interfaith Relations is an interdisciplinary course that explores the inherent contextuality and pluralism of theological reflection, and especially their implications for inter- and intra- faith relations. ‘Faith’ here is understood broadly, drawing from a wide range of religions and spiritualities, some traditional and institutionally-structured, others more experimental and experiential.

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The course reflects the critical, self-critical and committed engagement with theological praxis on the part of the scholars who deliver it; modules pay close attention to the disciplined interplay of faith with the socio-political realm, both in terms of historical legacy and present possibility. Lectures and seminars probe key issues of the day, including faith’s complex relationships with social class, caste, race, ethnicity, nationhood, gender, sexuality and ecology.

Students attend to the practical and theoretical possibilities of engaging – in depth and in context – with the challenging theological praxis of justice, peace and the integrity of creation. By offering a wide range of critically reflective faith perspectives from the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, this master’s course blends together the themes of liberation theologies, with those of ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. There are three main strands in the course:

  • Religions, politics, ethics and pluralism in multiple contexts (e.g. Global South and Global North) with a particular focus on religion and secularity; religion and human rights; religion, conflict and peace; religion and race, caste, gender, sexualities; and religion and postcolonial/decolonial critique.

  • Ecumenical dialogue, with a particular focus on how ecclesial communities reimagine formerly antagonistic relationships as part of a repentant reconfiguration of postcolonial and postimperial religious identities.

  • Liberationist and interreligious theologies that blend interfaith dialogue with the themes of justice, peace, reconciliation and the integrity of creation involving Buddhist-Christian, Buddhist-Muslim, Hindu-Muslim, Christian-Muslim and Jewish-Christian and indigenous traditions.

Lecturers draw on a wide range of critically engaging scholarly perspectives, including those of contextual, ecumenical and interreligious theologies; liberation/feminist/queer/peace theologies; historical theology and theological anthropology; Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish studies; critical theories (postcolonial and postmodern); politics; sociology; and ethics.

Liberationist and interfaith immersion programmes in the Middle East and South Asia, as well as the internship module, The Praxis of Contextual Theologies and Interfaith Relations, offer students the opportunities to engage with reflective practitioners in this field and make connections between theory and practice in their chosen field of study.

The course also offers fieldwork visits to different places of worship in Dublin, a research trip to Belfast, and to the World Council of Churches in Geneva (which may be combined with the International Peace Studies visit to the United Nations). A range of international conferences will be made available for students who wish to participate and become familiar with established and emerging scholars in the field.

Modules

  • Research and Methods in Contextual Theologies and Interfaith Relations
  • Religions, Politics and Ethics in a Pluralist World
  • Reimagining Ecumenical Theology: Dialogue and Difference
  • Nature, Grace and Place: Theology, Maps and Territories
  • Liberationist and Interreligious Theologies
  • Issues in Buddhist-Christian Dialogue
  • Muslim God, Christian God: Islam and Muslim-Christian Comparative Theology
  • Engaging Religious Fundamentalism
  • Religions, Conflict and Peace in International Relations
  • Northern Ireland: Religion, Conflict and the Politics of Peace

Students on this course may also apply to take a module from one of the School of Religion, Theology, and Peace Studies other taught master’s courses for assessment in both Dublin and Belfast: International Peace Studies, Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, and Christian Theology.

What Our Students Say

Alice Vignoles-Russell 2020-2021

Studying on the IT&IS course has been a profoundly enriching experience. The course draws from the intersection between faith, culture and politics in a broad variety of contexts, and is delivered with passion and the highest academic and ethical standards. During my time on the course each module was delivered in reference to the most pressing and up to date global issues, such as anti-racism work, gender equality, environmentalism and post-colonial issues. I was inspired throughout my studies by the ways in which spirituality can empower change.

Scholarships

The Irish School of Ecumenics Trust will make the following scholarship available:

  • Contextual Theologies and Interfaith Relations M.Phil. (CT&IR) - €2,000 (1 scholarship)

There is no separate application process. All incoming students who have accepted a firm offer by 25 July 2022 will be considered. For further details please contact srpostgrad@tcd.ie.

Find out more about Postgraduate Scholarships.