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Theology, Philosophy and Religion Dissertation Topics

The number of electives required to fulfill the concentration requirements are determined by the degree program. Shelby Rooks Lectures. Named for the first African-American to serve as president of a predominately white theological school, the C. Shelby Rooks lecture launches a series of programs, open to the community, that invites individuals and communities, lay, clergy, and scholars to engage in religious and theological reflection on issues relevant to African-American faith, freedom, and justice.

Affiliated Faculty of the CSBFL are scholars with expertise in the full range of religious studies and theological disciplines and have a fundamental commitment to research and reflection upon all aspects of African and African American life. They support the Mission, Vision, and Commitment Statements of the CSBFL, which is dedicated to nurturing and mentoring a new generation of activists who will engage in ministries of liberation and justice.

Search Enter your search word or phrase below: Search for:. First, philosophical reasoning might persuade some who do not accept the authority of purported divine revelation of the claims contained in religious texts. Thus, an atheist who is unwilling to accept the authority of religious texts might come to believe that God exists on the basis of purely philosophical arguments. Second, distinctively philosophical techniques might be brought to bear in helping the theologian clear up imprecise or ambiguous theological claims. Thus, for example, theology might provide us with information sufficient to conclude that Jesus Christ was a single person with two natures, one human and one divine, but leave us in the dark about exactly how this relationship between divine and human natures is to be understood.

The philosopher can provide some assistance here, since, among other things, he or she can help the theologian discern which models are logically inconsistent and thus not viable candidates for understanding the relationship between the divine and human natures in Christ. For most of the twentieth century, the vast majority of English language philosophy—including philosophy of religion—went on without much interaction with theology at all.

While there are a number of complex reasons for this divorce, three are especially important. The first reason is that atheism was the predominant opinion among English language philosophers throughout much of that century. A second, quite related reason is that philosophers in the twentieth century regarded theological language as either meaningless, or, at best, subject to scrutiny only insofar as that language had a bearing on religious practice.

The former belief i. Since much theological language, for example, language describing the doctrine of the Trinity, lacks empirical content, such language must be meaningless. The latter belief, inspired by Wittgenstein, holds that language itself only has meaning in specific practical contexts, and thus that religious language was not aiming to express truths about the world which could be subjected to objective philosophical scrutiny. In the last forty years, however, philosophers of religion have returned to the business of theorizing about many of the traditional doctrines of Christianity and have begun to apply the tools of contemporary philosophy in ways that are somewhat more eclectic than what was envisioned under the Augustinian or Thomistic models.

In keeping with the recent academic trend, contemporary philosophers of religion have been unwilling to maintain hard and fast distinctions between the two disciplines. As a result, it is often difficult in reading recent work to distinguish what the philosophers are doing from what the theologians and philosophers of past centuries regarded as strictly within the theological domain.

In what follows, we provide a brief survey of work on the three topics in contemporary philosophical theology that—aside from general issues concerning the nature, attributes, and providence of God—have received the most attention from philosophers of religion over the past quarter century. We thus leave aside such staple topics in philosophy of religion as traditional arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, the epistemology of religious belief, the nature and function of religious language.

We also leave aside a variety of important but less-discussed topics in philosophical theology, such as the nature of divine revelation and scripture, original sin, the authority of tradition, and the like. From the beginning, Christians have affirmed the claim that there is one God, and three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each of whom is God.

In C. Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. No doubt this is an understatement. The doctrine of the trinity is deeply puzzling, and it is so in a way that has led some of Christianity's critics to claim that it is outright incoherent. Indeed, it looks like we can derive a contradiction from the doctrine, as follows: The doctrine states that there is exactly one God; that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God; and that Father, Son, and Spirit are distinct.

Either way, however, we have a problem. If the Father is identical to God and the Son is identical to God, then by the transitivity of identity the Father is identical to the Son, contrary to the doctrine. On the other hand, if the Father is divine and the Son is divine and the Father is distinct from the Son, then there are at least two divine persons—i. Either way, then, the doctrine seems incoherent. At first blush, it might seem rather easy to solve. The answer, in short, is that the Christian tradition has set boundaries on how the doctrine is to be explicated, and these sorts of models fall afoul of those boundaries.

Modalism confounds the persons. It is the view that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are mere manifestations, modes, or roles played by the one and only God. Ruling out modalism thus rules out analogies like the Superman analogy just given. Tritheism divides the substance. It is a bit tricky because controversial to say exactly what tritheism, or polytheism more generally, is. For discussion, see Rea But whatever else it might be, it is certainly implied by the view that there are three distinct divine substances.

Assuming the items in your shopping cart count as multiple distinct substances, then, the problem with the shopping cart analogy is that it suggests polytheism. In what follows, we will consider several more sophisticated models of the trinity: the social model, the psychological model, and the constitution model. These do not exhaust the field of possible solutions, but they are the ones to which the most attention has been paid in the recent literature. For more detailed surveys, see Rea and, at book length, McCall This suggests the analogy of a family, or, more generally, a society.

Thus, the persons of the trinity might be thought of as one in just the way that the members of a family are one: they are three individual human beings, but taken together they are a single family. Since there is no contradiction in thinking of a family as three and one in this way, this analogy appears to solve the problem. Those who attempt to understand the trinity primarily in terms of this analogy are typically called social trinitarians.

This approach has been controversially associated with the Eastern Church, tracing its roots to the Cappadocian Fathers—Basil of Caesarea, his brother Gregory of Nyssa, and their friend Gregory Nazianzen. Against this practice, see especially Ayres and Barnes b. Consider, for example, the children of Chronos in Greek mythology, of whom Zeus was the liberator.

These children included Zeus, Hera, Ares, and a variety of other Olympian deities—all members of a divine family. Nobody, however, thinks that the fact that Zeus and his siblings nor even, say, Zeus and his begotten daughter Athena count in any meaningful sense as one god. For this reason, social trinitarians are often quick to note that there are other relations that hold between members of the trinity that contribute, along with their being members of a single divine family, to their counting as one God.

Richard Swinburne, for example, has defended a version of this view according to which the unity among the divine persons is secured by several facts in conjunction with one another. First, the divine persons share all of the essential characteristics of divinity: omniscience, omnipotence, moral perfection, and so forth. Second, unlike the deities of familiar polytheistic systems, their wills are necessarily harmonious, so that they can never come into conflict with one another.

Third, they stand in a relationship of perfect love and necessary mutual interdependence. On this sort of view, there is one God because the community of divine persons is so closely interconnected that, although they are three distinct persons, they nonetheless function as if they were a single entity. One might think that if we were to consider a group of three human persons who exhibited these characteristics of necessary unity, volitional harmony, and love, it would likewise be hard to regard them as entirely distinct.

And that is, of course, just the intuition that the view aims to elicit. Still, many regard the sort of unity just described as not strong enough to secure a respectable monotheism. Thus, some social trinitarians have attempted to give other accounts of what unifies the divine persons. Perhaps the most popular such account is the part—whole model.

A Journey through Christian Theology: With Texts from the First to the Twenty-first Century

More recently, J. Moreland and William Lane Craig have argued that the relation between the persons of the Trinity can be thought of as analogous to the relation we might suppose to obtain between the three dog-like beings that compose Cerberus, the mythical guardian of the underworld. One might say that each of the three heads—or each of the three souls associated with the heads—is a fully canine individual, and yet there is only one being, Cerberus, with the full canine nature.

At this point, therefore, it is natural to wonder what exactly it is that makes both proposals count as versions of social trinitarianism. Unfortunately, this is a question to which self-proclaimed social trinitarians have not given a very clear answer. However, this answer is less than fully illuminating. What is needed is some characterization of the common core underlying the diverse views that are generally regarded as versions of social trinitarianism.


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The following two theses seem to capture that core: i the divine persons are not numerically the same substance, and ii monotheism does not require that there be exactly one divine substance—rather, it can be secured by the obtaining of relations like the part—whole relation, or necessary mutual interdependence, or some other sort of relation among numerically distinct divine substances.

One of the more serious problems is that it is inconsistent with the Nicene Creed. Likewise, the Creed says that Father and Son are consubstantial. This claim is absolutely central to the doctrine of the trinity, and the notion of consubstantiality lay at the very heart of the debates in the 4th Century C. But the three souls, or centers of consciousness, of the heads of Cerberus are not in any sense consubstantial.

Other versions of the part—whole model raise further worries. A cube, for example, is a seventh thing in addition to its six sides; but we do not want to say that God is a fourth thing in addition to its three parts. The reason is that saying this forces a dilemma: Either God is a person, or God is not. If the former, then we have a quaternity rather than a trinity. If the latter, then we seem to commit ourselves to claims that are decidedly anti-theistic: God doesn't know anything since only persons can be knowers ; God doesn't love anybody since only persons can love ; God is amoral since only persons are part of the moral community ; and so on.

Bad news either way, then. Thus, many are motivated to seek other models. Historically, the use of psychological analogies is especially associated with thinkers in the Latin-speaking West, particularly from Augustine onward. Augustine himself suggested several important analogies, as did others in the medieval Latin tradition.

However, since our focus in this article is on more contemporary models, we will pass over these here and focus instead on two more recently developed psychological analogies. Thomas V. Morris has suggested that we can find an analogy for the trinity in the psychological condition known as multiple personality disorder: just as a single human being can have multiple personalities, so too a single God can exist in three persons though, of course, in the case of God this is a cognitive virtue, not a defect Morris Others—Trenton Merricks for example—have suggested that we can conceive of the divine persons on analogy with the separate spheres of consciousness that result from commissurotomy Merricks Commissurotomy is a procedure, sometimes used to treat epilepsy, that involves cutting the bundle of nerves the corpus callosum by which the two hemispheres of the brain communicate.

Those who have undergone this procedure typically function normally in daily life; but, under certain kinds of experimental conditions, they display psychological characteristics that suggest that there are two distinct spheres of consciousness associated with the two hemispheres of their brain. Thus, according to this analogy, just as a single human can, in that way, have two distinct spheres of consciousness, so too a single divine being can exist in three persons, each of which is a distinct sphere of consciousness.

Precisely this feature of the analogies, however, also raises the spectre of modalism. In the case of multiple personality disorder, there is no real temptatiom to reify the distinct personalities, to treat them as distinct person-like beings subsisting in or as a single substance.

They are, rather, quite straightforwardly understandable as distinct aspects of a single, albeit fragmented, psychological subject.

Professor Nathan Eubank on early Christian reception of the New Testament

Similarly in the case of the commissurotomy analogy. It is highly unnatural to treat the distinct centers of consciousness as distinct persons; rather, it is most plausible to treat them as mere aspects of a single subject. Note, too, that it is hard to see how the personalities and centers of consciousness that figure into these analogies could be viewed as the same substance as one another, as the doctrine of the trinity requires us to say of the divine persons.

Again, it is natural to see them merely as distinct aspects of a single substance. This, then, seems to be the primary objection that proponents of these sorts of analogies need to overcome. More formally:. If this claim is true, then it is open to us to say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same God but distinct persons. Notice, however, that this is all we need to make sense of the trinity. If the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same God and there are no other Gods , then there will be exactly one God; but if they are also distinct persons and there are only three of them , then there will be three persons.

The main challenge for this solution is to show that the Relative Sameness assumption is coherent, and to show that the doctrine of the trinity can be stated in a way that is demonstrably consistent given the assumption of relative identity. Peter van Inwagen's work on the trinity , has been mostly concerned with addressing this challenge.

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Their suggestion is that reflection on cases of material constitution e. If this is right, then, by analogy, such reflection can also help us to see how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can be the same God but three different persons. Consider Rodin's famous bronze statue, The Thinker. It is a single material object; but it can be truly described both as a statue which is one kind of thing , and as a lump of bronze which is another kind of thing. A little reflection, moreover, reveals that the statue is distinct from the lump of bronze.

For example, if the statue were melted down, we would no longer have both a lump and a statue: the lump would remain albeit in a different shape but Rodin's Thinker would no longer exist. This seems to show that the lump is something distinct from the statue, since one thing can exist apart from another only if they're distinct. If this is right, then this is not a case in which one thing simply appears in two different ways, or is referred to by two different labels. It is, rather, a case in which two distinct things occupy exactly the same region of space at the same time.

Most of us readily accept the idea that distinct things , broadly construed, can occupy the same place at the same time. The event of your sitting, for example, occupies exactly the same place that you do when you are seated. But we are more reluctant to say that distinct material objects occupy the same place at the same time. Philosophers have therefore suggested various ways of making sense of the phenomenon of material constitution. One way of doing so is to say that the statue and the lump are the same material object even though they are distinct relative to some other kind e.

The advantage of this idea is that it allows us to say that the statue and the lump count as one material object, thus preserving the principle of one material object to a place. The cost, however, is that we commit ourselves to the initially puzzling idea that two distinct things can be the same material object.

What, we might wonder, would it even mean for this to be true? It is hard to see why such a claim should be objectionable; and if it is right, then our problem is solved. The lump of bronze in our example is clearly distinct from The Thinker , since it can exist without The Thinker ; but it also clearly shares all the same matter in common with The Thinker , and hence, on this view, counts as the same material object.

Likewise, then, we might say that all it means for one person and another to be the same God is for them to do something analogous to sharing in common all of whatever is analogous to matter in divine beings. On this view, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same God but different persons in just the way a statue and its constitutive lump are the same material object but different form-matter compounds. Of course, God is not material; so this can only be an analogy.

Theology, Philosophy and Religion Dissertation Topics

But still, it helps to provide an illuminating account of inter-trinitarian relations, and it does so in a way that seems at least initially to avoid both modalism and polytheism. Brower and Rea maintain that each person of the trinity is a substance ; thus, none is a mere aspect of a substance, and so modalism is avoided.

And yet they are the same substance ; and so polytheism is avoided. This account is not entirely free of difficulties however. Critics also object that this view does not directly answer the question of how many material objects are present for any given region, lump, or chunk. Is there an objective way of deciding how many objects are constituted by the lump of bronze that composes The Thinker?

Are there only two things statue and lump or are there many more paperweight, battering ram, etc. And if there are more, what determines how many there are? The doctrine of the Incarnation holds that, at a time roughly two thousand years in the past, the second person of the trinity took on himself a distinct, fully human nature.

As a result, he was a single person in full possession of two distinct natures, one human and one divine. The Council of Chalcedon C. For example, it seems on the one hand that human beings are necessarily created beings, and that they are necessarily limited in power, presence, knowledge, and so on. On the other hand, divine beings are essentially the opposite of all those things. Thus, it appears that one person could bear both natures, human and divine, only if such a person could be both limited and unlimited in various ways, created and uncreated, and so forth.

And this is surely impossible. Two main strategies have been pursued in an attempt to resolve this apparent paradox. The first is the kenotic view. The second is the two-minds view. We shall take each in turn. With these tools, students rooted and living in their own communities, apply their knowledge and skills to ministry amongst Indigenous People.

Depending on the course configuration and delivery method selected, it could also provide seminary-transferable credits for students who later decide to obtain a Master of Divinity degree. Div by Extension; attendance to the Summer School is required. Read More. The ISP Certificate is a non-degree program for students who are interested in deepening their understanding about how their Indigenous context impacts Christian faith and theological thought.

Div courses. A complete description of the program is available through the Indigenous Studies Program Office. The Rev.

VST’s Theological, Educational, Curricular and Communal Commitments

It may be completed in three years of study or up to seven years part-time. Div program combines:. The granting of a Recommendation, i. All VST degree students are required to complete 9 hours of non-credit, no-fee research modules in Information Literacy. Students should initially make application to Huron University College for the M. Bradley Morrison, D. The Masters of Arts in Public and Pastoral Leadership recognizes the kinds of leaders that are needed for the changing nature of Christian communities and supports persons engaged in various forms of leadership, from congregations to social entrepreneurship, faith-based social services, NGOs, community-based development, mediation services and community-based justice initiatives.

Theology in the Twenty-First Century – Religion Online

A unique specialization in Spiritual Care prepares students for a variety of chaplaincy ministries see following description. This degree is anchored in practice-based learning, action-reflection, and contextual analysis. Students in this program are expected to connect to a community or project in which their ability to practice and grow their capacity for leadership will be tested. A graduate of the MA PPL program at VST will know, articulate and integrate aspects of religious heritage, cultural context, and public and pastoral leadership:.

These electives should include opportunity to develop post-colonial analysis and an understanding of the impact of globalization. The final requirement for graduation in the MA-PPL will be a capstone project and presentation see below. Two further options are available to students under particular circumstances:.

The Capstone Project is an opportunity for students to complete their MA-PPL degree by addressing a practical, real world leadership challenge or opportunity using the skills and knowledge they have gained throughout their program of study. The Capstone Project and Presentation provides opportunity for students to synthesize and apply their knowledge and experiences from their whole program.

It helps them to negotiate successfully the transition to the next stage of their career, whether to the workplace or further study. The concentration in Spiritual Care is designed for those intending to pursue vocations as spiritual care practitioners in settings such as health care facilities, prisons and correctional facilities. These are normally completed post-degree.

This program provides an integrated approach to learning in which pastoral studies are intentionally integrated with clinical experience in therapeutic methods. All students must pass a readiness interview with one of the VST adjunct faculty CPE supervisors prior to being accepted into the program. Persons wishing to enroll should be aware of the emotional rigor that is part of CPE and be prepared for focusing full time on their studies if they wish to complete the program in 24 months.

As a concentration within the larger MA PPL degree, this program likewise carries 48 credit-hours of study. The total cost of this program is higher than the other streams due to the 6 — 1 student — CPE supervisor ratio and other factors associated with the costs of running a clinical program. Students are also welcome to take advantage of course offerings at Regent College and St.

For information on residencies, students in their final year of studies should contact the CPE supervisors at the aforementioned sites. The Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree program is for those wishing to develop further perspectives in theological thought for personal or professional enrichment, for those interested in further academic study, or for those seeking further development in their spiritual journey in relation to other professions. This program allows students to concentrate their studies in one of five areas. Students will choose one of the following areas before beginning their courses:.

Students choosing the Biblical Studies concentration are required to complete 6 credit-hours of either Biblical Hebrew or Biblical Greek as part of their coursework, and write a major exegetical paper. Students within this concentration are required to take at least 3 credit hours of advanced coursework in both historical and theological studies. At least one advanced elective must be taken from each of the above concentrations. The Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree is a 48 credit-hour program, and can be completed in two years of full-time study.

However, if a student wishes to study part time, all courses required for this degree must be completed in seven years from the date of first registration. Off-site students in the MATS degree program can complete their requirements in two years of full-time study, including a summer term. The MATS may also be completed off-site on a part-time basis. All coursework must be completed within 7 years from admission.

Students typically complete their MATS program by sitting a six hour comprehensive examination in their last semester of studies.

DCU BA in Theology and Religious Studies

The thesis would be an advisable path for those, for example, who will be applying for further academic study at other universities. This program, while suited to those with an academic vocation, is also suited for the clergy and other leaders who want theological depth and interdisciplinary research for the practice of ministry. The degree is granted by Durham University through the department of theology and religion. The international research Ph. It is a three-year program for full-time students and a six-program for part-time students, although extensions may be granted by successful petition.

Students who wish to apply to this program must live within commuting distance of VST. The expectation for both full and part-time students is that they participate in the academic culture of the school, in the class-room as teaching assistants, in the research colloquium, and in conferences hosted by the school. This program is for permanent residents and citizens of Canada. Students in this Ph. D program must plan for a trip to Durham within the first year to be oriented to a research Ph. Periodic engagement with both advisors, the Durham advisor online, is required to keep research on track.

A useful information handbook about the Ph. Please note: residency requirements are met through meetings with your VST advisor, and your Durham advisor online. A list of funds and foundations that support doctoral students in theology is available through the financial aid office. For more information about the program please contact: Prof.

Jason Byassee jbyassee vst. For more information about applying to the program contact: Registrar Anita Fast, afast vst. The Graduate Diploma in Theological Studies is a post-graduate diploma designed to provide opportunities for interested persons to complete a focused program of advanced studies in a given area supportable by the School of Theology. The program may serve to prepare a student for work in a Master of Theology Th. M program; provide scholarly enhancement of ministerial practice; or provide disciplined focus in an area of theological study for personal interest.

This program may be of particular interest for those who may not be able to undertake a full graduate degree program but who wish an organized program of studies culminating in certification. The Graduate Diploma is a 12—credit hour program, consisting of four 3-credit hour courses at the level or above. At least three of the four courses must be in one chosen area of concentration.

Generally, the guidelines for ThM level work apply to the Graduate Diploma. All work for any course undertaken as a part of the Graduate Diploma program must be completed within one month of the end of the term in which the student registered for the course. Courses completed in the Graduate Diploma program can be transferred into another VST degree at the advanced level, and may be eligible for transfer into other graduate programs.

Persons who hold an M. Div or their equivalents are eligible to apply for admission to the Graduate Diploma in Theological Studies. At the time of application, the applicant will declare their area of interest. Where applicable, reading knowledge of an ancient or modern language may be required. If eventual application to a Th. The Master of Theology degree is a post-graduate degree designed to provide the student with: 1 an advanced understanding of one area or discipline within the general context of theological study, and 2 the development of research methods and resources appropriate to the area or discipline chosen.

The program may serve to prepare a student for further graduate study at the doctoral level, preparation for some forms of teaching, the scholarly enhancement of ministerial practice, or disciplined focus in an area of theological study for personal interest. Two streams of study are available: One option requires the writing of a scholarly thesis; this is the option generally recommended for those preparing for doctoral work. The other option, the General Research Option, requires additional course work and a significant project. The program requires specialization in the area of study in which the thesis is written but allows for diversity in the selection of courses.

The Th. It is primarily a residential degree with courses offered on the campus of VST. A limited number of requirements may be completed through distance format. M can be completed in 12 months of full-time study, although most often Th. M students engage in studies over 2 years full-time. It must be completed within 5 years of part-time studies. A graduate of the ThM program at VST will be equipped and prepared to exercise a vocation of theological scholarship reflecting an advanced level of knowledge and skills:.

All work for any course undertaken as a part of the Th. In addition to the language s required for admission, each candidate must demonstrate a sufficient mastery of any other ancient or modern language required for the thesis topic before the thesis is undertaken. It is recommended that a student studying full-time take no more than 9 credit hours per term.

All work for the Master of Theology degree must be completed within five calendar years from date of admission. If the thesis option for the ThM program is chosen by the student, this requires that the student successfully complete a thesis demonstrating scholarly competence, including the formulation of a research topic or question relevant to the field of study, critical understanding of primary and secondary sources in the field, demonstration of appropriate research methods, and the ability to make a sustained and critical scholarly contribution to the field.

The ThM thesis should be 22, — 30, words 90 — pages. The ThM project option will likewise show scholarly competence in a more delimited area of study in a paper of — words 45 — 50 pages. The project may include alternate media performance, video, etc in addition to a paper of — words 30 — 35 pages.

Many of the advanced seminars at Regent can be taken for VST credit. For course listings see their website www. A student in the specialization will be able to accomplish the research competencies of the degree in depth for two of the three traditions and with some degree of familiarity for the other. The specialization will enable students to study the largely unexplored interface among Indigenous religions, Judaism, and Christianity. Through course work and integrating seminars, students will treat pedagogically matters which cross a number of spiritual, cultural and intellectual boundaries.

In the case of language studies, if a scriptural language is chosen, credit will be given only for courses that involve reading of texts second year of study or greater. For the study of an Indigenous language, one year of study of the language within its cultural context is expected.

Each candidate must demonstrate a sufficient mastery of the Indigenous, ancient or modern language required for the Culminating Assignment before that assignment is undertaken. All degree and diploma students are required to complete 9 hours of non-credit, no-fee workshops in Information Literacy. The workshops will engage students in hands-on as well as theoretical work intended to develop knowledgeable, disciplined and critically astute researchers. See the Supplementary Calendar for more information. This degree is a credit hour program. Due to course scheduling and the necessity of meeting a number of course requirements during the Indigenous Studies Program summer school, it is anticipated that this degree will be delivered on a part-time basis.

Normally, all courses required for this degree must be completed in five years from the date of first registration. Students admitted may be credited for courses of up to fifty per cent of credits already completed elsewhere in satisfaction of the core requirements. In addition to its own core and adjunct faculty, VST has available the necessary resources for the specialization. Proximity to Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and other Vancouver-area post-secondary institutions provides other research interactions. Given that currently we do not have a full-time faculty member specializing in Islam, however, we are not able at this time to offer a specialization in Islam within the ThM degree program.