Joint venture into rural spirituality

The University of Otago and the Bishop’s Action Foundation (BAF) have signed an agreement to undertake collaborative research in public theology, the sustainability of rural communities and helping communities flourish.

BAF is an Anglican charitable trust based in New Plymouth to create and support initiatives that meet community needs throughout Taranaki. It works through a community development model.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) will see the university work with BAF on research that contributes practically and theologically to the debate around issues relevant to rural communities.

The Director of the university’s Centre for Theology and Public Issues, Professor David Tombs, says the move presents exciting new opportunities for researchers to share their knowledge.

“Otago already has agreements with NGOs such as the Salvation Army and World Vision, so this MOU is a welcome extension of our engagement with this sector.”

The BAF have undertaken a wide range of projects, among which is one relating to “spirituality”, Spirituality and Well-being.

“The terms ‘spirituality’, ‘spirit’ or ‘spirited’ are used widely within New Zealand society – the ‘spirited’ performance of teams, the ‘human spirit’, spiritual experiences, but what these terms actually mean and why they are important is not well understood.”

In response to this they have become  part of a leadership group aiming to generate wider discussion about how people understand and respond to the spirit / spirituality as a central aspect of being human.

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News category: New Zealand.

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