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£700k boost for research into faith and digital culture

A leading research centre looking at the interaction of faith and our increasingly digital society has been awarded £700,000 to continue its work ...

A leading research centre looking at the interaction of faith and our increasingly digital society has been awarded £700,000 to continue its work into the relationship between the Church and today’s digital culture.

The funding will enable the CODEC research project at St John’s College, Durham University, to develop its exciting and important research into the impact of digital culture on both the academic study of theology and the daily life of the Church.

Working closely with the well-known Anglican training institution, Cranmer Hall, and the emerging new Methodist Research Centre at Durham University, the Wesley Study Centre, CODEC looks at how digital culture is shaping faith and how faith can impact digital culture.

“CODEC hopes to challenge and help the Church to think creatively about these issues, whether that’s getting Christians to think about their personal online presence, or training ministers and priests to understand the issues better,” said CODEC’s Director, Rev Dr Peter Phillips (right).

Of several large grants awarded to CODEC, two stand out:

The Maurice and Hilda Laing Charitable Trust have given £195,000 to support the work of Dr Peter Phillips, an experienced New Testament Lecturer and one of the world’s leading voices in Digital Theology. He is currently conducting research on biblical literacy in the contemporary Church and in wider society; the impact of digital culture on human identity and well-being; and on the interaction between digital culture and how we live out our faith in the contemporary world.

Secondly, the Jerusalem Trust have awarded CODEC £240,000 to create and curate a portal for discipleship resources for the Christian community and to research the practice and fostering of discipleship in contemporary culture, under the leadership of Dr Bex Lewis (left), a thought leader in the field of digital culture.

Over the summer, CODEC will make two important new appointments to its team: a curator to manage and oversee the portal, and a digital designer for the project. Throughout the project, CODEC will work closely with Revd Gavin Tyte, a consultant to the Jerusalem Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts.

CODEC is also interested in how digital technology can be used in the teaching of theology at all levels – both in the Church and in our schools, colleges and universities. CODEC continues to develop its hugely successful preaching courses – offering training for Christian preachers, encouraging them to be part of a community of good practice in the North East and throughout the UK.

CODEC’s research focuses on the three areas of:
• Biblical/Scriptural literacy
• Homiletics and Imagination
• Human identity and religious practice within the digital age.

CODEC’s impact aims to be both academic and public through:
• Peer-reviewed publication
• Conferences and seminars
• Research-led courses
• Engagement with religious practitioners, religious bodies and society in general.

CODEC works together with other research centres and departments at St John's College, the University of Durham, and the Institute for Advanced Studies, to provide interdisciplinary research outcomes to enhance the digital engagement of religious communities and to enhance their digital provision and training.


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