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Durham University

Department of Theology and Religion

Vision for Common Awards Research

By Dchordpdx (Own work) [CC BY 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A great deal of thinking goes on around the churches about the future of ministry and mission, and about the future of theological education. Some of that thinking is going on in formal projects or in groups or institutions dedicated to such exploration. Much of it, however, is simply going on as practitioners think hard, and work together and individually to develop their practice and respond to their contexts - improvising on what has gone before and reflecting seriously as they do so.

Our aim in the Common Awards Research Network is to identify some of the most important themes that are being explored in this thinking around the churches and the theological education institutions (TEIs), and to gather groups of people from the churches, the TEIs, and the university sector with an interest in those themes.

We initiate some such projects ourselves, especially in relation to the key themes that we identify, and we invite others to join them. We also, however, look for ways in which we can assist with the best thinking that is already going on - by finding ways of resourcing the extension and deepening of that thinking. We can help bring other voices into the conversation; we can help secure some of the resources needed to make ongoing conversations work and grow; and we can provide routes for engagement with and dissemination to the wider Common Awards community and beyond.

Our primary aim in all this is not the development of consensus, though there might be some contexts in which that is both possible and desirable. In most contexts, however, our aim is to develop deeper and more challenging conversations, within which people engaged in thinking in and for the life of the church can learn from one another, hold one another to account, and challenge one another. Our aim, in other words, is to pursue better quality disagreement.