Research Themes 2017-2018

These themes help RASP focus our research efforts but are not exclusive. They will be regularly informed by indigenous,
inter-generational, gender diverse, multicultural and multi-religious sources and dialogue.

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Ecology

Theologically, our earthly home (oikos) or Creation is intrinsically ‘good’, beautiful and purposeful, abundant yet finite. This sits in tension with a rising sense of the fragility, scarcity and exploitation of these qualities. Belief in nature as infinite raw material for utilitarian quantification and commodification threatens Creation.  It is urgent that humankind connects a theology of cosmic reconciliation with the practical urgency of the plight of the earth and the poor, as victims of violence and injustice. The positive reception to Pope Francis’ lyrical Laudato Si’ encourages us to develop further the Yarra Institute’s religiously based research into social policy for the flourishing of creation.

Economy

Economy also comes from the root oikos, both linked to and enveloped by ecology. It is not reducible to mere economic prosperity or growth (GDP). RASP encourages research into a more social and ecological economy which sustains a dynamic relationship between the two dimensions. This will be expressed in two primary projects: Critical turning or crisis points in the history and future of capitalism; The increasingly global phenomenon of precarious or fragile work threatening sustainability of current models of work, family and community life.

Wellbeing

The language of Wellbeing is increasingly moving into religion’s traditional realm. It potentially integrates the personal, communal and political through more holistic and spiritual approaches to the mysteries of illness, death and the nature of human life than current western medical models. Key generational and historical injustice issues to be addressed include indigenous inequalities, aging, youth unemployment, domestic violence, abuse, and mental illness. The religious quest for flourishing (e.g. shalom, abundant life) connects with these pressing wellbeing issues and their ecological, economic and spiritual causes. Such healing contributions could help restore the sense of safety, transparency and authenticity of the church’s pastoral practices and services to society amidst pressures towards secularisation, privatisation and centralisation.