Why the Centre of Theology, Philosophy and Media Theory?
Life moves fast around us; things that seemed sure and unchangeable, even a short time ago, are no longer so, for good and for ill; new hopes and dreams struggle with fears for the future. A key source of this frenetic pace of change can be found in the varied forms of media available to us, purveying all kinds of new products, experiences and ideas. In the past, society found in religion and theological reflection profound sources of reference and support, but now these often seem irrelevant, outdated, or unequal to the task. The resultant continuous upheaval leaves our social systems and conceptual frameworks fragile and unstable. On the one hand, we may benefit from rapid technological developments and the fast information exchange in media, but, on the other hand, we experience growing individualisation, identity crisis and the gradual fragmentation of society. The Centre of Theology, Philosophy and Media Theory [cTPM] aims to step into this breach, from its position at the heart of Europe and the crossroads between East and West. Bringing together a team of young theologians and thought-leaders, it aims to rethink and develop the resources of the theological tradition for a media-dominated world, providing access to a dynamic and vital source of support for (post)modern societies, contributing to the international academic debate, and providing education of the highest standard to an international body of postgraduate students.
What are the purpose and aims of the Centre of Theology, Philosophy and Media Theory?
At the core of the cTPM is the aim to be a centre of excellence in research. From a theological perspective, we enter into dialogue with the culture of the day and thus find three areas deserving a thorough enquiry. Firstly, we analyse the turbulent world of media and mediation which is in the process of transforming our culture in what may be termed as the “information age”. Theological thought has much to offer media theory, while it has much to learn as well: the world of media is now so all-pervasive that theology cannot be the discipline it is called to be without reflecting on media. Secondly, we reflect on the so-called “turn to religion” in contemporary philosophy which brings a new awareness of religion as a source of insight into contemporary culture. Theology is called to reflect on and dialogue with inspiring philosophical retrievals of explicitly religious and Christian topics which used to form an undisputed part of Western culture in the past, and now assume new meaning and significance in the postmodern context. Thirdly, we aim to contribute to the field of ethics with a focus on concrete moral queries which seek life-integrity in the fragmented conditions of contemporary society. Human beings, problematised and challenged by various happenings and circumstances, seek meaning and fundamental thought-patterns to deal with a variety of difficult moral questions which arise from the contemporary context. Much research needs to be done at the interface between these three disciplines, and the cTPM is ideally situated to do it, based as it is in one of the oldest theological faculties in Europe, in a country that has been through a major socio-political and economic transition over the last twenty-five years.