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Howard Paterson Professor Appointed

Monday 6 October 2008

Howard Paterson Professor Appointed

The University of Otago has appointed the first holder of the Howard Paterson Chair in Theology and Public Issues. Dr Andrew Bradstock – currently co-director of the Centre for Faith in Society at the von Hügel Institute at the University of Cambridge – takes up the appointment early next year.

The Chair in Theology and Public Issues was established as a result of a major gift by the Paterson Charitable Trust. Mr Paterson was a highly successful Otago businessman who passed away unexpectedly in 2003. He was an Otago graduate who had studied the phenomenology of religion and retained a life-long interest in the area. The Paterson donation was enhanced through substantial support from the Presbyterian Synod of Otago and Southland and Southland couple Ian and Annette Tulloch. Because the donors' gifts were made as part of the University’s Leading Thinkers initiative, they were therefore matched under the Government's Partnerships for Excellence scheme, bringing it to a total of $2.35m.

The first Howard Paterson Chair, Dr Bradstock, studied Theology and Politics at the University of Bristol, before completing his PhD in Political Theory at the University of Kent. From 1990 to 1991, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Church History at the University of Otago. He then returned to England and taught Theology in several institutions before becoming the Secretary for Church and Society of the United Reformed Church from 2000 to 2005. He has extensive experience of working with UK politicians to develop links between Parliament and the churches and other faith communities.

Dr Bradstock says he is honoured to be offered the new post and excited by the opportunities it presents.

“I am especially attracted to the practical dimension of the job – its potential to see faith engaging with, informing and enriching public discourse around current issues.

My experience has been both ‘academic’ and ‘hands-on’, exploring the relationship between faith and politics historically and in contemporary situations. I relish the chance to develop this further in a new context. I am also delighted to be returning to Dunedin and the University of Otago, both of which played an important part in my own academic and personal development."

Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says that Dr Bradstock brings an ideal background to this important position.

“Dr Bradstock’s writing combines historical scholarship with work that engages directly with the interface between faith and public policy. He has worked with a variety of institutions associated with several distinct Christian traditions, and also in the world of politics and public affairs.

“As well as engaging in research and teaching, he will be responsible for establishing a new Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Otago. It is hoped that this Centre will promote research at the interface of theology and society in a New Zealand context, and will contribute to an intellectually informed theological perspective on matters of public interest."

Department of Theology and Religious Studies Head Professor Paul Trebilco says the creation of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Otago has been greeted with widespread enthusiasm.

“It is seen as fulfilling a need for dialogue between theology and a whole range of other disciplines, and for theologically informed perspectives on crucial debates in our society. I am delighted about Dr Bradstock’s appointment and greatly look forward to working with him in this new role."


ENDS

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