(I couldn’t upload yesterday because we had a huge powercut here)

Day One

Aah. So I finally enter into the world of UTC. Or more correctly… Serampore.

The Serampore Doctoral scene in my understanding so far seems to be that you apply for a PhD at Serampore through SATHRI (there are two/three other such centres). And then SATHRI will manage your doctoral programme through your college (like UTC etc). [This paragraph was edited on 20.5.2006]

We began the session with introductory remarks and then a brief! devotion. Where we read Matthew 13:10-17 and even as I began reeling with the passage we paused for about 5 seconds (literally) and then the Director of SATHRI prayed. Felt the need for some more time for reflection at least. But I guess we were short on time.

The main speaker for the day was K.C. Abraham… aparently an important figure in UTC/Serampore/SATHRI circles… I of course hadn’t heard of him.

He led a discussion (gave a printout and then point by point gave explanations of what he was trying to say)… on “Doctoral Level Research in the Indian Context”

The main thrust was that the Doctoral Research we are about to undertake is a Christian ‘Vocation’ that needs to be undertaken in all seriousness, not only with view of the academic enterprise, but also (primarly?) in view of the Church who we will serve.

He expressed this by highlighting some problems in doctoral/academic programmes in the Indian context… like the difficulty for Indian students to identify problem statements, lack of philosophical exposure of Indian students… so on and so forth.

He went to on express important methodological issues to help us students face the academic road ahead.

Some points included… an understanding of research, a clarification on what is ‘originality’ (we usually only bring a a fresh perspective to already thought about ideas), importance of a ‘tentative’ hypothesis, the interdisciplinary nature of study… so on and so forth.

While there was quite a bit of interesting stuff there… I benefited most by his explaination on analysis: Usually when we analyse we look at an issue, its causes, its effects and its solutions. But we need to incorporate a multi-disciplinary/contextual approach as well. This means… if we are studying poverty… we cannot just look at poverty from an economic point of view. We must also look at it from a social, religious, anthropological, hermeneutical perspective… etc.

The multi-disciplinary idea was further expounded but a reminder that our knowledge of something should not be solely objective/conceptual… but also emperical (hence the need for emperical study), practical, praxis oriented etc.

One really cool illustration he used to express his ideas was on how Jesus criticises the ‘bad’ shepherd. The reason the ‘bad’ shepherd is ‘bad’ is because he is a hireling/doing his job for wages. Hence the same applies, says KCAbraham, for the good/bad PhD student. The ‘bad’ PhD student does it only for the degree! :)

There was more, but this is a jist of what went on.

We received three books as compulsory reading:

Mabry, Hunter P. A Manual for Researchers and Writers, 2nd edn. BTESSC: Bangalore, 2004.

The above book is like their thesis manual. Takes about PhD writin method, like Turabian though a different format etc.

Mabry, Hunter P. Doing Christian Ethics: Context and Perspective. BTESSC: Bangalore, 1996.

Prabhakar, Samson (ed.). Inter-Cultural Asian Theological Methodologies: An Exploration. SATHRI: Bangalore, 2002.

(also helpful: Prabhakar, Samson (ed.). Methodological Issues in Theological Disciplines. SATHRI: Bangalore, 2002.)

For Theology Students especially they offered two articles from a certain book that I think any Theology Student must have access to. Very important theological method book, though I am finding it a bit difficult.

William, Rowan. On Christian Theology: Challenges in Contemporary Theology. Blackwell Publishing: Oxford, 2000.