The melodies of the future are so often drowned out by siren voices of despair, oppression, violence and distractions. The tools of academic research help me to identify and, in a sense, turn the down volume of the surrounding cacophony so that the faint strains of hope can be heard. To put it another way, the pursuit of knowledge is for more than mere understanding but ought to be envisioning and even enabling of social change.
At the same time, there are melodies of the future that religious (and for that matter non-religious) institutions broadcast that are of dubious quality. Practical theology is a discipline that subjects the practices and claims of faith to critical examination.
It is in this light that I approach my primary research interest: surveillance as a social (not mere technological) response to contemporary challenges across fields as diverse as counter-terrorism and children’s welfare. I am curious to understand the faith which people today (lay and professional) place in surveillance technologies.
Before joining the faculty in 2005 my professional contexts included 11 years of pastoral care ministry in a Scottish church and 3 years designing and validating a distance learning undergraduate degree programme of adult theological education. In between I took a career break to write my PhD thesis and during that time did occasional and part-time work for the Open University (as a tutor on their first wholly online internet technology module) and the University of Aberdeen (on their IT services Help Desk).
I served for three years as co-chair of the British and Irish Association for Practical Theology and, at the end of 2013, concluded a three-year commitment as Editor of the journal Practical Theology. I am a member of the International Academy of Practical Theology.
*Ruben Alves, Tomorrow’s Child: Imagination, Creativity, and the Rebirth of Culture (London: SCM, 1972), 195.