Abbey HouseWithin the UK, Durham University is uniquely placed to undertake this project:

  • In the recent Research Assessment Exercise its Department of Theology and Religion was ranked as the most outstanding department of Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies in the UK.
  • The School for Medicine and Health offers medical education in collaboration with the University of Newcastle, and also engages in clinical research.
  • Durham University offers the only Centre for Medical Humanities so far established in this country. Through the School for Health, and through other individual contacts, there are good links with local NHS Trusts.
  • The Centre for Death and Life Studies is actively engaged in theological and inter-disciplinary research concerned with life-values, practices and beliefs that relate to living and dying.
  • At St John’s College students are prepared for ministry in the Church of England and in the Methodist Church, and at Ushaw College students are trained for ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. Much training is conducted collaboratively between St John’s College and Ushaw College, and this includes post-graduate training in pastoral theology. The Borderlands Project, based at St John’s College, already seeks to encourage inter-disciplinary academic activity between theology and other fields by means of an annual lecture, annual publication, bursaries and other occasional activities.

Wolfson Research InstituteVarious staff at the University are already engaged in relevant academic work:

  • Professor Andrew Louth and Professor Christopher Cook are currently engaged in research into the Philokalia and mental well-being; a project which has been funded by the Leverhulme Foundation and the Society of the Sacred Mission.
  • Professor Cook has published work in the field of addiction, psychiatry and spirituality [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] including, recently, a significant theological monograph on Alcohol, Addiction and Christian Ethics [7].
  • Professor Cook is a member of the Executive Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Special Interest Group in Spirituality & Psychiatry (and in June 2009 will become the next Chair of this group). This group has recently undertaken a review of the place of spirituality and religion in the curriculum for training psychiatrists. The group has also prepared a new textbook on Spirituality and Psychiatry [8], of which Professor Cook is the senior Editor.
  • Professor Douglas Davies has gained funding from the Leverhulme Trust and the AHRC in support of work on various projects, including cremation, woodland burial practices, and the relationship between the emotions and religious identity.
  • Dr Robert Song has an established interest in the related field of medical ethics, and has facilitated an inter-disciplinary group, involving academics, clergy and clinicians, on Spirituality & Palliative Care.
  • Professor Pali Hungin and colleagues at the School for Health are actively engaged in various policy relevant and service-level healthcare research projects. These include ways in which functional disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, might be construed as a kind of spiritual dysfunction.
  • Colleagues in the Centre for Medical Humanities, including Professor Martyn Evans and Dr Jane MacNaughton, are engaged in research on intimacy, human flourishing, and ways in which the humanities facilitate and enrich clinical processes.


  1. Cook, C. C. H., D. Goddard, et al. (1997). “Knowledge and experience of drug use amongst church affiliated young people.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 46: 9-17. [&#8617]
  2. Hope, L. C. and C. C. H. Cook (2001). “The role of Christian commitment in predicting drug use amongst church affiliated young people.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture 4: 109-117. [&#8617]
  3. Hope, L. C., C. C. H. Cook, et al. (2002). “Exploration of the perceptions of social climate for three types of substance abuse treatment programmes in England.” Therapeutic Communities 23: 18-32. [&#8617]
  4. Cook, C. C. H. (2003). “Psychiatry and mysticism.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture 7: 149-163. [&#8617]
  5. Cook, C. C. H. (2003). “William James’ varieties of religious experience and Jungian varieties of human nature: The nature of the relationship between religious experience, belief and psychological type.” Journal of Beliefs and Values 24: 139-154. [&#8617]
  6. Cook, C. C. H. (2004). “Addiction and spirituality.” Addiction 99: 539-551. [&#8617]
  7. Cook, C. C. H. (2006). Alcohol, addiction and Christian ethics. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. [&#8617]
  8. Cook, C. C. H., Powell, A., and Sims, A. C. P., eds. (2009). Spirituality and Psychiatry. London, Royal College of Psychiatrists Press. [&#8617]