Chris Talbot

Title: Trauma Theology and Education in Emergencies – Potentially Mutually Enriching Interactions.

Having spent much of my professional life working on education in emergency situations, I am seeking to integrate that experience with aspects of my life as a Christian. There are many potential intersections between the goals of education programming in emergencies and approaches and themes explored in the work of theologians of trauma. The purpose of my research is to identify, demonstrate and operationalize possibilities of mutual learning and benefit between the two professional and academic fields, thus seeking to enrich both.

Trauma theology can be a vital entry point for religious contributions to strengthening education in emergencies (EiE), as it does not seek to impose prescriptions or solutions for people. Rather, exponents of the approaches of trauma theology would seek first to listen to the experiences of children, adolescents, teachers, parents, school counsellors, school administrators and EiE professionals, who have lived through armed conflict, disaster and forced displacement, including asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced, while seeking to educate themselves and those for whom they are responsible. This is a body of evidence not yet explored by theologians of trauma. A subsequent step may be to construct theological responses that would help such people in their search for meaning and for coping strategies. Trauma theology can add value to the planning and carrying out of EiE responses, including the provision of psychosocial support.

My vision is that engagement with people undertaking education in emergencies might allow a creative reimagining of a form of trauma theology, which, by the end of the research project, would constitute an original contribution to trauma theology.

Supervisors: Dr Karen O’Donnell and Dr Brian Powers (Durham University)