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Durham University

Department of Theology and Religion

Theological Reflection

Theological Reflection

Each year, we begin work on a new theme, as a focus for Common Awards research. We begin a three-year programme of activity surrounding that theme. (We will eventually, therefore, have three overlapping programmes running at once.)

Our second theme is 'theological reflection'. There is a lot of talk of theological reflection in theological education, including around the Common Awards partnership. Yet there are multiple understandings of what the phrase means, how valuable it is, what methods are appropriate to it, and how it can be taught. It can have something of a 'marmite' effect on students: some can't get enough of it, others pull a sour face the moment they smell it. We are asking how best theological reflection can be understood, practised, and taught.

If you want to get involved, please watch the videos below to get a sense of our initial exploration of the theme, and then consider submitting a proposal for a seedcorn grant. If you have any other questions or suggestions about the theme, please get in touch with Mike Higton on

Link to Vimeo page


For each theme, we gather an initial small symposium to do some initial exploration, and so in the Autumn of 2018 a small group met to share existing work on theological reflection, and to discuss some of the questions surrounding it. Several of the participants have produced short videos to express some of the ideas and questions that the symposium generated for them.

You can head over to our Vimeo page to watch the following videos:

  • Sarah Dunlop on training to be adaptable;
  • Sally Nash on reflection as a spiritual practice;
  • Frances Clemson on safety and risk;
  • Clare Watkins asking whether theological reflection is a thing;
  • Sarah Brush on a reflective church and reflective ministry; and
  • Keith Beech-Gruneberg looking beyond dichotomies.

Other Resources

Our conversations were shaped by various resources, including:

  • Pete Ward, Introducing Practical Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017)
  • Gary O'Neill and Liz Shercliff, Straw for the Bricks: Theological Reflection in Practice (London: SCM, 2018)
  • Eeva John, Naomi Nixon and Nick Shepherd, 'Life-changing learning for Christian discipleship and ministry: a practical exploration', Practical Theology 11.4 (2018), 300–314.