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PhD Research in Focus

Claudio Alberti

PhD Title: Does the use of bottom up approaches in peacebuilding interventions increase local ownership?

I am a Ph.D. Researcher in International Peace Studies and a Development Aid worker with an academic background in Political Science and Economics. Over the past years, I worked with different UN Entities and NGOs in development and humanitarian settings in Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central/South Asia in progressively responsible M&E capacities.

My doctoral research focuses on local ownership in peacebuilding processes and analyzes how and if Adaptive Peacebuilding interventions can build local ownership through the empirical case study of the peacebuilding process in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. My main research interests are: adaptive peacebuilding, bottom up approaches to peacebuilding, Design Monitoring and Evaluation for peace and peace education.

Supervisor: Professor Etain Tannam

Lydia Blake

PhD title: A Political Pope In Hell: The Cardinal Sin. The Political Theology of Dante Alighieri

MPhil in International Peace Studies and recipient of the James Haire Memorial Prize for best dissertation. Honours Bachelor’s Degree in World Religions, Theology & Near and Middle Eastern Studies.

My current research explores how Dante Alighieri’s (1265-1321) political theology is expressed within his Divine Comedy. It will demonstrate how Dante uses theology to reflect critically on the governing political authorities and the ecclesiastical organisations and to articulate his plea for reform, by using two strategies, the first being the literary device Contrapasso and the second, through his critical and creative imagining of an alternative world in which divinely sanctioned accountability takes concrete shape.

Supervisor: Professor Andrew Pierce

Seungeun Chung

PhD Title: Militarised masculiity and UNPK - the case of South Korea

I’m a PhD candidate of International Peace Studies. I have focused on gender issues in the post-conflict peacebuilding process. My master thesis focused on a concept of gendered security as a framework for designing and implementing a more gender-sensitive and a comprehensive peacebuilding process. The current research is about the impact of peacekeeping experience on the masculine identity of soldiers who serve in the peacekeeping operations.

Considering that every peacekeeping mission involves military personnel, regardless of using armed forces, and that problems caused by peacekeepers’ misbehavior such as sexual exploitation and abuse against the local women are still prevalent, I think it is necessary to explore the construction of soldier’s militarized masculinity and how it is changed, and reshaped by peacekeeping missions. I’m also highly interested in the education field especially for women and children in conflict-ridden societies who can rarely have the opportunity to get an education. It would be great to cooperate with these people in making genuine, sustainable ‘security’ and ‘peace’.

Supervisor: Professor Gillian Wylie

Paul Corcoran

PhD Title: Christian Wonder and the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh

My research aims to move towards the development of a modern Christian theology of wonder today. It begins by tracing to the Patristic preoccupation with curiositas the negativistic assessment of wonder throughout much of the history of Christian theology. Building on Aquinas’ ideal of a ‘virtuous’ wonder, it will reimagine Christian wonder as a kind of active ‘receptivity’ with which Christians are called to partake in the inherent mystery of their faith, a sacramental state of mind attuned to the transcendent ‘more-than-is’ (Maritain) of God’s presence in the world and in the Sacraments of the Church. Patrick Kavanagh’s poetry will be established as displaying the virtue and sacramentality redolent of true Christian wonder and will offer an evocative example of the role Christian art can play in the cultivation and communication of a flourishing theology of wonder today.

Supervisor: Professor Prof. Fáinche Ryan

Shane Daly

PhD Title: Called to Preach the Word: Laity and the ministry of preaching’ – A case study in ecclesiology.

The challenge to have the gospel heard in the present age is immense. This thesis will explore a question of profound importance for the Church in the present and for its future - the question of ministry and who can minister in the Church. It is a question whose answer will impact upon how the gospel is proclaimed, how discipleship is nurtured, and how the mission to evangelize is carried forward.

The thesis will explore questions of ministry, paying particular attention to the ministry of preaching, and a consideration of who may, and who may not, preach today. The theology underpinning these permissions will be explored, critiqued and evaluated to determine if current law and practice might perhaps need to change in light of a deepening theological understanding of ministry.

Supervisor: Professor Fáinche Ryan

John Fay

PhD Title: The Aesthetics and Poetics of the Oxford Movement

My research attempts to trace and place the Oxford movement - a movement that sought to reclaim the ancient Catholic heritage of the Church of England - in the society and the culture of Victorian England using contemporary philosopher Charles Taylor’s account of the development of the modern identity as an interpretive key. In particular the research will focus on the influence early Romanticism had on the Movement’s key protagonists, and on the Movement’s literary and poetic output, stretching beyond its initial phase to encompass later 19th century poets such as Gerard Manley Hopkins and Christina Rossetti.

Supervisor: Professor Michael Kirwan

Megan Greeley

PhD Title: Rethinking Conceptions of Mentoring within Adaptive Peacebuilding in Warzones Using a Postcolonial Indigenous Research Paradigm

My research focuses on the reconceptualization of mentoring as an adaptive peacebuilding practice in warzones. I'm specifically examining the axiology, ontology, and epistemology of relational mentoring within active warzones and how individuals can move within relational, traditional and dysfunctional mentoring relationships to build and sustain networks and cultures of peace across conflict lines and across levels of society.

My case study is Nuba Mountains in Sudan which has been in an active state of civil war between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) since 2011 without UN support.

Supervisors: Professor Iain Atack and Professor David Mitchell

Nandini Gupta

PhD Title: The Wandering Minstrels of Hope: Tracing the Role of Women’s Grassroots Peacebuilding in Kashmir and Northern Ireland

My research is in feminist peace studies and war politics. I am identifying the similarities of peacebuilding approach in terms of non-violent peace movement against the militarism in both of these societies. My work is preoccupied with the pivotal role of women in investigating the importance of political identity in post-conflict reconstruction and the agency of unarmed political collaborators in bringing out the waves of sustainable change and practices of inclusion.

I am also a research assistant for “Pericles”, an EU funded project and I have presented papers at international conferences around Dublin, London, Oxford and Delhi. My research interests are Feminist peacebuilding, Transversal Politics, and Non-violent political action. My academic background includes an MPhil in Gender Studies, an MA in English and Cultural Studies, and a BA in English.

Supervisor: Professor Gillian Wylie

Vicky Holland

PhD Title: Pigs – The Transient Expedients for the Subjugation of ‘Others’ in Christian and Jewish Context

I am a PhD researcher based in the school of religions and theology, working in trans-disciplinary fields that centre on the theme of animals in religious contexts. This work builds on my interests of eco-feminism, human-animal studies and religion and ecology and the importance of religion in shaping the treatment and uses of animals and directing human relationships in contemporary society.

Ethics has been the overarching theme of my academic career, having previously taught the subject for 9 years at undergraduate level. My MA thesis centred on applying utilitarian ethical formulae to the treatment of zoo animal subjects. Ethics, eco-feminism and eco-justice, liberation theology, religious pluralism, social-psychology, the philosophy of human-animal relationships, interreligious relations and discourse, animals in religious contexts and religion and ecology will all feature as major disciplinary influences and form the primary inter-disciplinary inspiration for my future academic output. Through my work at Trinity and as I progress in my career, I hope to produce research that centres the premises of justice and liberation for subjugated humans and non-human animals as the primary motivating vocational aims.

Supervisor: Professor Jacob Erickson

Stephen Huws

PhD Title: The Virgin Mary in Co. Dublin, 1869-1944: The Reception of the Bible in Stained Glass

Focusing on the period from 1869, the year when the Anglican Church of Ireland was disestablished, to 1944, when the celebrated Irish glass producers An Túr Gloine closed their doors, this study will examine the varying depictions of the Virgin Mary during a period in which the far larger Catholic church rose from poverty to wealth and prominence, a number of significant Irish artists began and finished their careers, and independence movements resulted in the partition of the island. Mary is both a fruitful and highly revealing subject matter for the purpose of this study, given both the prolific depictions of her in Christian art and the diverse choices made in portraying her, which allow us insight into understandings of the Bible and faith of artists, patrons and congregations.

I completed my BA in Film Studies at the University of Kent in 2013 and my MA in Medieval Studies at the University of York in 2019. I am the recipient of the Provost PhD Award from Trinity College. When I’m not working on my PhD I enjoy photography, Gilbert and Sullivan, and cricket.,

Supervisor: Professor David Shepherd

Hassina Kiboua

PhD Title: Translators and the asylum process in Ireland

I am currently the Resettlement Officer of the Irish Refugee Council. Part of my role is to provide information on rights, entitlements and obligations of resettled refugees in Ireland, assist them in accessing their rights, and to work with the Employment Officer on matters relating to the employment needs of resettled refugees. Another element of my work is to gather information about best practice on refugee resettlement in other EU states and outside of the EU and develop policy positions for the IRC on refugee resettlement.

I also provide training on resettlement, family reunification and intercultural support work to staff/organizations and volunteers working with resettled refugees. I am also managing a project training interpreters and community intercultural support workers on best practice interpretation and cultural mediation in the asylum process. In conjunction with my work in the IRC, I am pursuing a PhD research in International Peace Studies at Trinity College Dublin. The research is on the role of interpreters in the asylum process. I am a qualified solicitor, I hold a Masters’ degree in International Law and an M-Phil in International Peace Studies from Trinity College Dublin. I recently completed an Advanced Diploma in Refugee and Immigration Law in the Honourable Society of Kings Inns and a Professional Diploma in Human Right and Equality in the Institute of Public Administration (IPA).

Supervisor: Professor Gillian Wylie

Endika Martinez - Philosophical and Theological uses of the concept of analogy by Hans Urs von Balthasar

This research studies the philosophical and theological uses of the concept of analogy by Hans Urs von Balthasar. On the one hand, the philosophical analogy is illustrated in the biblical dynamism between the Old and New testament, Thomistic metaphysics of the real distinction, Augustinian meta-anthropology and the artistic testimony of the apprehension of being. On the other hand, Balthasar introduces the theological analogy with the famous phrase: ’Christ is the concrete analogy of being’. He explains this type of analogy with the concept of the subsistent unity-in-difference in the Trinitarian life, revelation of Christ and the Church. As a result of a careful examination of these themes separately, this research argues for a necessary (albeit analogous) distinction between the philosophical and theological types of analogy. In our opinion, this contributes to the effervescent scholarly debate on the nature and grace controversy.

Supervisor: Dr. Michael Kirwan

Lynn Mills

PhD Title: Constructions of the Self Through Water and Spirit in the Dead Sea Community at Qumran and the Early Christian Church.

I am a Canadian from gorgeous Vancouver Island. I came to academia after many years of working in business and travelling. I have moved around quite a bit in my life, living in a number of places across Canada and the world. I have worked in four continents and eight countries. My work and world experience have been very valuable in my new world of research.

I am a graduate of the MA in Theological Studies program at the Vancouver School of Theology and am currently in my third year of the PhD program in the School of Religion. My research centers on the construction of the self through water and spirit in initiation and cleansing rites of the Second Temple Period. I am deeply interested in ritual and liturgy, particularly the effect on faith, praxis and the psyche. Under the supervision of Dr. Benjamin Wold, I have just finished the first part of my thesis which centered on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Community of Qumran and am now researching the role of Spirit in the New Testament.

Supervisor: Professor Benjamin Wold

Lida Naeim

PhD Title: The Refugee Crisis as a Moral Political Challenge. A Comparison of the Approaches of H. Arendt, S. Benhabib and O. O’Neill.’

The Refugee Crisis in Europe has led to a new debate on obligations and rights, on polarity and stability of societies committed to dignity, liberty and equality. My goal in this thesis is to analyse the contribution of the three philosophers in this context, by discussing the background of their approaches. Each of the listed thinkers considers elements from Aristotelian and Kantian ethics, such as the understandings of virtue and justice, the good and the right, community and the will to live together. In my research dissertation, I am examining the problems caused by the present wave of refugees and its consequences for European societies. My specific background as a refugee from Afghanistan, who grew up in Germany has given me an insight in what it means to start a new life as a refugee in a European country.

Professor Maureen Junker-Kenny

Emmett O’Regan - The Indefectibility of the Apostolic See

Since the publication of Amoris Laetitia in 2016, there has been a resurgence of the medieval speculation on the problem of a heretical pope. According to the medieval canonists, a pope who succumbs to formal heresy would automatically forfeit the Petrine office. For the critics of Amoris Laetitia, this scenario raises the potential for a modern-day schism. This thesis will attempt to demonstrate that this debate has already been definitively settled during the First Vatican Council, when St. Robert’s Bellarmine’s view of papal indefectibility was raised to dogmatic status as a secondary object of papal infallibility. The Relatio of Vatican I shows that the Council fathers understood that the doctrine of the indefectibility of the Apostolic See necessarily precludes the possibility of a heretical pope.

Supervisor: Professor Fáinche Ryan

Alexandra Richardson

PhD Title: Understanding the Implications of The Women, Peace and Security Agenda (UNSC1325) as Gender-Responsive Peacebuilding: Diverse SOGIE Peace Perspectives.

I am a PhD Candidate in International Peace Studies, with a focus on multi-gendered, intersectional peacebuilding. I have an academic background in Feminist Critique, International Relations, Political Studies and Queer IR Theory.

My doctoral focus is on queer-inclusive, intersectional peacebuilding. I am predominantly interested in working to decouple notions of ‘women’ and ‘gender’ to recast a gendered/sexual lens on all human subjects, regardless of their race, class, sexual identity, gender, age, income-level, or ableness. Through a post-structural perspective, I hope to situate LGBTQ peace perspectives firmly on the research agenda, and to not only dismantle society’s current identity categories but, to some extent, multiply these identities and bringing to light the multifaceted nature of each person within society. In sum, my work will demonstrate that by deconstructing traditional views on individual identities, society can work to realise the interrelated tropes between gender/sexuality identification(s) and international peacebuilding.

Supervisor: Professor Gillian Wylie

Oana Sanziana Marian

PhD Title: Just the Vessel with the Wine in It’: Christianity’s Social Performances, Poetry’s Sacramental Refusals, and the Theology of Willie James Jennings.

My research examines poetic modalities and potentialities in contemporary theological writing (particularly that of the contemporary American theologian Willie James Jennings), and theological dimensions of poetry and poets working, consciously or unconsciously, to rehabilitate diseased and distorted understandings of intimacy within what Jennings calls 'Christianity’s social performances.'

The nature of the distortion is racial and gendered, a diseased understanding of self and other, including understandings of self and land, self and animals, and self and community -- in the language of Martin Buber, ‘I-it,’ instead of ‘I-Thou’ ways of relating to the not-me, including a divine not-me that people call God. A basic premise of this research is that, without an understanding of the centrality and necessity of intimacy – and the way intimacy has been distorted – Christian theological projects, even those driven by liberationist impulses, are stuck in an endlessly creative, ultimately futile, episodic repositioning.

Supervisor: Professor Siobhán Garrigan

Jennifer Sargent-Matchain

In the context of global social, political, economic and environmental stresses, my research seeks to establish concrete links between Conflict Transformation theory and Permaculture design as an alternative to traditional peacebuilding approaches implemented by policymakers. The main objective of this research is to analyse whether Permaculture principles and practice can contribute to the positive transformation of structural, cultural and direct violence.

My research compares a Permaculture project in Palestine with one in Zimbabwe as well as other initiatives in conflict-torn countries. My research interests include design thinking, complexity theory, degrowth, grassroots and indigenous movements, neurohumanities and ecological resilience alongside issues of environmental stresses, scarcity and their relationship with violence.

I have worked as a teaching assistant at the School of Ecumenics and the Sociology department. I am a recipient of a Studentship Award from the School of Religion, Peace Studies and Theology at Trinity and the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología Mexico.

Supervisors: Professor Iain Atack and Professor Brendan Ciarán Browne

Eric Scanlon

I am a PhD candidate of Peace Studies. I have a BA in International Relations and an MA in Development Studies. My PhD research investigates the emerging and understudied role that foreign political parties played, and are continuing to play, in peace processes to end civil wars since the end of the Cold War. My research builds on existing theories and models of conflict resolution, but also establishes that there is a current research gap regarding the involvement of foreign political parties, and it academically examines this emerging trend.

The purpose of my research is to understand why certain foreign political parties, primarily those who have been connected to insurgent groups, are becoming formally involved in contemporary peace processes, what role they are playing, and if their involvement is having any impact. I contend that this emerging trend impacts important aspects of contemporary peace processes – the role of third parties; the transition of rebel groups from conflict to democratic politics; and the hybridisation of the liberal peace.

Supervisor: Professor Jude Lal Fernando

Elena Schaa

PhD Title: How do Future Worldviews Emerge? Quantum Physics, and the Case of Werner Heisenberg’s ‘Religion without God’.

Following my BA in the Study of Religion and History (Basel), I completed a MA in the History and Philosophy of Science (Vienna) and worked as a student assistant. My main research interests include [1] the relationships between religion/s and modern physics, [2] the aesthetics of religion/s and science, [3] theoretical and methodological approaches in the European History of Religion and the history of science, [4] the asymmetrical gender conception of scientists.

In my MA thesis, I associated systems theory and Derridean deconstruction to explored the concept of distance between the researcher and the researched, which is thought to facilitate the production of new and true knowledge. Currently, I work on the relationships between religion/s and quantum physics in Werner Heisenberg’s writings. In my PhD project, I examine: [1] how Heisenberg answers to contemporary changes in science and society in his “religious writings”, [2] the impact his writings had on the narratives of the evolution of modern physics, as well as on our contemporary understanding and forms of religion/s (e.g. complementarity and harmony between religion/s and science or different forms of mysticism), [3] the aesthetics of knowledge and Sinn, as well as the ways they inform emerging worldviews.

Supervisor: Professor Alexandra Grieser

Stephen Shields OSA - The Changing Role of the Prison Chaplain in the Irish Prison Service

Prisons face challenges in approaching religious plurality and secularism and maintaining and protecting inalienable rights, including that of religious freedom. Faced with such demands, my research will reflect on the disorientation of the chaplain’s role, as it continues to cede authority to other professional services in providing pastoral care to an increasingly nonreligious prison population where different world faiths also have a strong presence. This project finds inspiration from my work as a prison chaplain and will build on my MPhil thesis, centred on being church in the postmodern world. The thesis will involve transdisciplinary collaboration between practical theology, ecclesiology and social science methodology and will include empirical investigation to present current chaplain perspectives on their role and function. The thesis is submitted as a further development in the growing discourse around practical theology and religious ministry in prisons. It is expected to identify modes of potential and structured cooperation between the church, chaplaincy services and the IPS, as Irish society hurtles ever more towards the secular age. Supervisor: Dr. Michael Kirwan

Lorri Annastasia Stewart

Recent Awards: Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in International Peace Studies 2017 Thesis Title “Examining the Complex Intersection of Small Island Environmental Resource Conflicts, Indigenous Rights and Traditional Knowledge: Investigating the Case of Native Hawaiians and Natural Resource Conflicts.”

My personal philosophy and passion are to actively discover ‘my truth’ I must study, practice and live the subject. This usually involves immersion in communities, cultures and people’s lives to truly understand my current focus. I have explored human health and at-risk youth outreach, then yoga, healing and meditation, followed by Chinese, Japanese and Taoist holistic science and practices. Currently, my focus is on the ancient knowledge of contemporary Indigenous peoples. I explore how their traditional knowledge of caring for and connection to their environment, influences natural resource conflict and modern conservation efforts. It is a fascinating experience, filled with amazing people as I garner new insights daily.

Supervisor: Professor Iain Atack

Neha Tetali

Thesis Title “Gendering Post-independence Foreign Policy: Feminist Foreign Policy in postcolonial India.”

I’m a PhD candidate in Peace Studies. I’d be exploring the concept of Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP), and how it performs and works through the layered feminisms and unique foreign policy frameworks of postcolonial nations. I’d be focussing on the case of India. My research would evaluate why there is an absence of an FFP espousal in the nation and explore how Indian feminisms shape the nature of its foreign policy today.

Through my research, I wish to highlight the importance of gendering international politics in the hope to encourage a better and more informed engagement with foreign policy discussions. I also hope my work would be significant to the movement towards inclusive theoretical pluralism, contributing to the ongoing decentering of Western and patriarchal hegemony in understanding gender issues of South Asia.

Supervisor: Professor Gillian Wylie

Niamh White

Thesis Title: Towards a Systematic Theology of Disability: Vulnerability and Ability in God and Humanity

If theology is to take better account of disability, it must consider how it treats ability and vulnerability in both God and humanity. Concepts such as “virtuous suffering” can lead to an emphasis on self-sacrifice, which can mean that people with disabilities feel forced to be obedient rather than declare their self-worth. This requires examining how one understands Christ’s finitude, suffering, kenosis, and what Christ’s identification with humanity means for people with disabilities. Similarly, the classical attributes of God, for example, his omnipotence, have been questioned by disability theologians. The critique that the God of classical theism represents the strong is especially relevant for a marginalised group that is particularly cognisant of their limitations. One is faced with the question of whether there is a need for an alternative understanding of God, or if classical theism can speak to people with disabilities. Finally, it is necessary to examine soteriology and eschatology, considering what Christ’s post-resurrection suggests about resurrected bodies. Disability studies also has potential resources for thinking anew about familiar themes, for example, crip time could contribute to thinking again about eternity and eschatology.

Supervisor: Professor Siobhán Garrigan

Chelsea Wilkinson

My academic background consists of religious studies, psychology, conflict transformation, and the expressive arts. I earned my master’s degree in Expressive Arts and Conflict Transformation at the European Graduate School in Saas Fee, Switzerland where I examined the peace-building potential of mobile arts in increasing meaningful intergroup contact in geopolitical, religious and ethnic conflicts. Ultimately, my research goals are to further bridge the practice of expressive arts with conflict theories to address deeply rooted systemic issues such as racism, xenophobia, and sectarianism in societies around the world today.

Supervisor: Professor Carlo Aldrovandi

Rachel K Wilkowski

Thesis Title: A Critical Analysis of the Interpretive Influences on Adaptations of Genesis 1–3 in Select Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish Children’s Bibles

My research focuses on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, interpretation, and children’s Bibles. In particular, I am interested in how the Bible is rewritten for children, why particular adaptive choices are made, and how these changes alter, inform, or subvert the meaning(s) of the biblical text. My PhD research project focuses on the interpretive influences underlying adaptations of Genesis 1–3 in select Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish children’s Bibles from 1980 to present. I am currently a non-residential PhD candidate based in Vancouver, BC. In addition to my PhD research, I also serve as the part time Director of Family Ministry at my local church.

BA (Western Washington University); MATS, ThM (Regent College); GDTS (Vancouver School of Theology)

Supervisor: Professor David Shepherd

Kyle Young

PhD Title: Every Word from the Mouth of God: Aquila, Onqelos, and the Targumic Tradition

My research focuses on analyzing the relationship between Aquila and Onqelos’ translation techniques, contrasted with other translations and targumim, in order to chart more precisely the development of ancient Bible translations.

Due to various factors (e.g. the prerequisite work of Hexaplaric textual criticism; the preoccupation with studies on the translation techniques of Old Greek texts; the preference for halakhic and haggadic additions in the targumim), studies until now on Aquila and Onqelos have been lost in transmission. What few works exist primarily examine the identities of the scholars behind the texts. Comprehensive investigations of Aquila and Targum Onqelos’ individual translation techniques are in short supply, let alone comparative investigations. By addressing the lacuna, I hope to meet a pressing need for Septuagint, Targum, and Translation Studies.

MAR in Biblical Studies (Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia); MA in Linguistics & Translation (Canada Institute of Linguistics and Trinity Western Seminary, British Columbia)

Supervisor: Professor David Shepherd

Ofer Zalzberg

PhD Title: Non-Negotiability in Conflict: Religious Zionist Attachment to Land and Temple in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

My research focuses on how conflict transformation scholars and practitioners address absolute commitments of conflict parties to deeply held values. The research surveys the shortcomings of mainstream conflict resolution approaches in conceptualizing and addressing value-based types of non-negotiability; explores absolute commitments of religious Zionists to two deeply held values of theirs - the Land of Israel and the Temple Mount; and explores theoretical and practical efforts for addressing these as part of conflict transformation in the Israeli-Palestinian context.

Supervisor: Professor Carlo Aldrovandi