Friday, August 06, 2010

Worries for UK Theology and Religion Departments?

Last week's Church Times has a worrying article about the problems in store for Theology and Religion departments in UK universities:

Axe hovers over world of academic Theology

The report is attributed to a "staff reporter" and suggests that "University theology departments are facing a turbulent autumn with rounds of staffing cuts and closures." At this point is difficult to see if the concerns expressed are legitimate or not.  Bangor's School of Theology and Religious Studies is mentioned, but it appears that the closure is in fact the result of a merger with the department at Trinity Saint David.  The University of Birmingham's Theology and Religion department, my former home, gets a special mention too, with an unnamed "source" speaking about low morale.

The rather vague nature of the claims, and the anonymity of the sources quoted, lead to some scepticism about the scale of the potential threat, at least at this point, but this will be one worth watching, especially in the light of the recent Sheffield and Gloucestershire situations.

HT: Roger Pearse, but I completely dissociate myself from his extraordinary take on the report.

2 comments:

webulite.com said...

I have thought for years, religion and theology departments are part of a relic when "The Church" was attempting to use academic to combat newer enlightenment thinking. Today it seems to me that Religion and Theology departments of little to no value. All the important content that is taught in them is better rolled into history departments. And the Supernaturalistic aspects that are dealt with are better handled by priests and ministers. Theology and Religion departments are simply no longer of value. History departments is where the topic should be taught and studied.

Cheers! webulite.com

Roger Pearse said...

That must be anachronistic, tho. The first universities like Oxford were founded to teach theology, with the classics as an afterthought.

But whether we, as taxpayers, are benefited in any way by all these religion departments seems very doubtful to me. There is a case that they will merely dress up in scholarly language the views of those who control university appointments. For instance, I have a copy of Archbishop Wake's translation of the apostolic fathers in which he makes the complacent (and curious) assertion that these teach the doctrines of the Church of England in the 18th century (!). Doubtless he tells the truth; but I don't find in 18th century literature that much evidence of apostles and prophets as an Anglican ministry!

Unless some definite public benefit can be shown, I'd chop them.