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Undergraduates can major or minor in theology and religious studies. The department has M. Theology degree programs. There is also a combined B. Enriched by the tradition of St. Augustine, whose theology powerfully related faith and culture, theology is the study of Christianity as lived experience, and theological studies within the Augustinian tradition aims to relate faith and culture for our time.

It is crucial that students recognize that what they believe has implications in relation to the lives of others in our own society and across diverse religious traditions and cultures, the globe particularly poor and marginalized people and the planet, and pursue a distinctively Augustinian way of knowing and loving God and neighbor that is holistic, integrative and transformational. Materials related to St. Theology and Religious Studies undergraduate majors pursue a wide array of careers including ministry, education, medicine, law, and graduate studies.

The PhD in Theology program was launched in Fall The integral Theological Education Formation Program will prepare doctoral students for roles of educational leadership within the academy and beyond. It would also release more time for involvement in the decisions that affect life together and so would strengthen democratic participation and civil society.

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Finally, diaconal services, where they use financial resources from governments also have to meet conditions of financial viability in competition with private profit seeking companies in the fields of health, education and welfare. In the first three parts of this presentation I focused on the implications of taking the concept of conviviality seriously as the basis for examining what is happening to work and economic life. Now I would like to share some positive reflections about the possible steps we could take towards a convivial economy. This demands intensified networking and collaboration across different boundaries, social movements, civic associations and faith communities and where possible with public authorities.


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The people who are suffering most from the negative effects of the present context should be the most important partners in working for transformation. When we think about steps and strategies I would emphasise the need to start with local places and people because our concern is to work the direction of conviviality. We do this, whilst being very aware of the need for structural change, including changes in policies of governments and of international political structures.

Theology and Religious Studies

In Europe, this has to include the policies of the European Union, which have such a shaping force on most countries, whether or not they are members. The development of the consumer and finance driven economy has strongly negative effects on community and society, especially on marginalised people and groups. However the impact of the changes in the economy are being experienced even in more affluent contexts, where we are witnessing rising rates of anxiety and clinical depression, increases of substance abuse and heavy drinking and a decline in morale in working life.

This is also linked to a loss of trust in society, social isolation and loneliness as well as a lack of participation in politics.


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The growing inequality and the privatisation of public services as well as the reduction in earned incomes especially at the lower end of the labour market all have an impact on this. Even rich societies do not seem to optimise human flourishing.

The implications of these issues, which affect whole societies, form a link this to the concept of conviviality and underpin its importance. A convivial economy would not only be of benefit to marginalised people and communities, but to the whole society, working life and the environment. We can already find many positive examples of local initiatives that point us in a different direction. Christianity is an incarnational religion and Christians are called to be with marginalised people and communities in a struggle to overcome injustice, support participation and work for peace. Christian values function as a kind of utopia, which is in sharp contradiction to the core values expressed through the present economy.

This stands in contrast to neo-liberalism which also offers a utopic narrative for our times, however with dystopian consequences. Values related to conviviality help to shape a guiding vision and a lodestar for action. The understanding of conviviality, as a core concept is a challenge to everyday practice grounded local community life. Therefore we will begin with the ways in which we can develop this approach to create a fruitful context for working on economic and social issues Seeking Conviviality.

Responses by Christian Ethicists and Church Leadership

Then we will explore the local possibilities for concrete action towards a convivial local economy Seeking a Convivial Local Economy. Finally we will look at the necessary changes in terms of national and international contexts Seeking a Convivial Economy. We are concerned with local practice and before we even begin to engage in developing practical action and working for change, we have to reflect on two aspects:.

First of all, in our associations, faith communities and diaconal organisations, how can we model different ways of relating to each other as well as to those in our local context? How can we create processes and structures that are more inclusive than in the mainstream economy?

Secondly, from a Christian point of view, how can we use our Biblical and theological resources to reflect on the way in which our life perspective and even our deepest motivating desires are formed and re-formed by expensive and intrusive advertising? The media saturated context in which we live is constantly shaping and reshaping our desires so that they reflect the offerings to consume in different market places.

Through this process, many of our desires are formed by consumer priorities, yet we know from faith and experience that increasing consumption does not itself bring happiness and fulfilment.

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The Centre for Theology & Community

In fact consumption transforms the idea of happiness into the transient pleasure of consuming, whether it be the things we need for everyday life, survival, housing or, for example holidays. The implicit offer is that if we have more financial resources we can consume more and have more pleasurable moments that will add up to happiness. Consumer led desire is restless and endless, as well as being costly to the environment. This is one of the root issues in our culture and it means that as well as working on projects and for change in the direction of justice and inclusion, we need to work on our core beliefs and values as well as visions for the future.

In our actions we should seek to embody this perspective. We could imagine a curriculum that begins to address this issue from childhood through to adulthood and continuing. This can be in terms of relationships and work as well as social, family and community life. In these educational processes, we very often unconsciously mirror the standard expectations of the wider society, which actually cause exclusion.

The more we engage in real communication with the diversity of society, we come to see how limited and limiting consuming desires may be. We are also constantly engaging in telling and retelling the story of our life, who we were, who we are and who we might become.

William Cavanaugh - Citizen and Consumer: A Theological View of the State and the Market

Empathy is built on this ability to see ourselves and others in a different way! Our story is constantly under revision and this is true for everyone else. But the reflection on this is missing, especially in terms of work and economy. Furthermore it is a very difficult process for marginalised groups, who are under daily pressure to survive.

Rooting our work in conviviality gives us an approach to deal with this issue. Is it possible to work with people to envision an alternative set of desires and satisfactions? This can lead to practical action and will certainly support it. This can be described as educational, pastoral or diaconal work. The process of imagining our future selves and communities as otherwise than they are is an essential foundation for transforming local communities and economies. However, in the context of continuous and disruptive imposed change and uncertainty, it is very difficult for people and communities to build up a positive developmental story.

Continuous disruption and seemingly arbitrary and imposed change as well as the lack of political engagement with marginalised communities are some of the mainsprings of the switch to the support of authoritarian leadership in politics. We are dealing here with the intersection between local stories and relationships and the wider forces of economic and political change. We have tools to address this, rooted in the Christian tradition, but these can also be enriched by diverse contributions from other traditions.

The support and enhancement of a different discourse along with experience of positive change is a most urgent task if we are to avoid resurgent nationalism and xenophobia in Europe. Moralising is not an effective strategy for change in this context! Convivial communities create a space where these kinds of reflections and the consequent practices can take root and people can flourish. In a convivial community people do not treat others as objects or as means to an end. The ability to develop conviviality requires openness and vulnerability rather than certitude and fixed viewpoint. In a context where individuals are valued mainly — or even only — in terms of their contribution to economic life, conviviality seeks the contribution of all to social organisation.

Grace is a key concept — all have something to give and the gift is unearned and often unexpected. Conviviality as a basic concept for diaconia engages with this diversity with a vision for the future founded on dignity and human equality. It implies continually reaching out from who and what we are, to what we might become and it requires the development of a capacity for critical analysis and creative action. Without experience and reflection, it is very difficult to create and sustain motivation.

Reward Yourself

A relational approach does not start with goals and action plans but with the complexity of the local situations and the different perspectives and interests of diverse groups. This is hardly a motivating basis for action. Therefore local economic action should focus on methods that start with the knowledge, skills and competences that people already have. These may be formally recognised or be the result of practice and experience.

Furthermore it is important to recognise the different routes to expertise in a group. To find a relational approach which recognises and affirms this is very important for empowerment.