This Unit engages practical theology and religious practice, reflects critically on religious traditions and practices, and explores issues in particular subdisciplines of practical theology and ministry. The Unit engages this mission in five interrelated public spheres with the following goals: For practical theology — to provide a national and international forum for discussion, communication, publication, and development of the field and its related subdisciplines For theological and religious studies — to foster interdisciplinary critical discourse about religious practice, contextual research and teaching for ministry, and practical theological method and pedagogy For a variety of religious traditions — to enhance inquiry in religious practice and practical theology For academic pedagogy — to advance excellence in teaching and vocational development for faculty in divinity and seminary education generally and for graduate students preparing to teach in such settings specifically For the general public — to promote constructive reflection on social and cultural dynamics and explore the implications of religious confession and practice.
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Practical Theology Unit
Call for Proposals
The Work of Our Hands: What does Practical Theology have to say about “decent work”?
According to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #8, “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” (https://sdgs.un.org/goals) is a driver for progress worldwide. Last year, the Practical Theology Unit had a productive session discussing the range of questions raised by a paradigm of growth, theoretically as well as practically. With the AAR 2023 presidential theme as La Labor de Nuestras Manos, our program unit turns its attention now specifically to work, and we ask, “What constitutes decent work?” Therefore, we seek presentations that address this question from the perspective of practical theology. We are interested in papers that reflect critically on the nature and purpose of work and that endeavor to conceptualize the nature and purpose of “decent work” from a religious or theological perspective. We also seek presentations that engage practical theological questions raised by the lived experiences of workers. Questions that facilitate such engagements include:
- For a possible co-sponsored session with the Religion and Human Rights program unit, we are particularly interested in proposals focused on religion, labor/work, and human rights “on the ground.” We wish to explore the conversation and practice of human rights and the rights of workers within grassroots communities, especially in dialogue with religious thought and scholarship of religious studies.
- How could the notion of decent work be enriched by the social and solidarity economy framework, and what contribution could religion make towards this solidarity? How could religion and religious actors contribute to the implementation of the decent work agenda?
- How might different sub-disciplines of practical theology engage the concept of decent work—in education, preaching, spiritual and pastoral care, and ecclesial practices?
What is the relationship between open and relational theology and practical theology? How can practical theology inform open and relational theology, which is sometimes accused of being excessively philosophical? What does open and relational theology, as an applied theology, look like? For example, how does the discipline of pastoral care and postcolonial practical theology challenge open and relational theology? What are the implications of ORT for church life in an age of declining church attendance? This session will explore open and relational theology as a practical theology that affects lives and structures institutions. We will consider the ways in which open and relational theology can be discussed in practice, as well as the ways in which lived experience can transform open and relational theology.
Roundtable: How is climate crisis addressed in practical theological disciplines/practices? (closed to submissions)
1970: Climate change is coming!
1980: The data from the 70s are correct. Climate change is really coming!
1990: We must act now!
2000: It's getting tight!
2010: Must act now for real!
2020: Climate catastrophes are increasing!
2022: Huh? Why do climate activists take to the streets?
The climate crisis is the greatest threat to creatures and creation. Some still deny it; others play it down. Moreover, the most significant problems caused by the world's wealthiest countries are occurring in the global South. Young people from all over the world keep gathering and protesting. And yet little is being done about the climate crisis in politics and society.
But many people, including those in the church, also stay out of the discourse, as if the whole thing has nothing to do with their faith, nothing to do with their lives, nothing to do with their children and grandchildren. The climate crisis challenges habits such as nutrition, mobility, attitude towards the earth, etc., and challenges new ways of living.
What does practical theology have to say about this? How is the climate crisis addressed in practical theological disciplines and religious practices? This interactive panel will provide impulses from a practical theological perspective, but at the same time, all session participants will be invited to join in the thinking and discussion.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Jaco Dreyer, University of South Africa1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Joyce Mercer, Yale University1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Hee-Kyu Heidi Park, Ewha Womans University, Korea1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Katherine Turpin, Iliff School of Theology1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Knut Tveitereid, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Shantelle Weber, University of Stellenbosch1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027