Course on “A Practical Theology of Disability & Mental Health”, 1-5 Feb Dunedin.

From 1-5 Feb, 2016, Professor John Swinton of the University of Aberdeen will teach an intensive course in Dunedin entitled: A Practical Theology of Disability and Mental Health – What does it mean to be Human? The course is jointly offered by the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Otago, and the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. 

John is Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care in the School of Divinity, Religious Studies and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. He is the founder and Director of the Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability at the University. In 2014 he also established the Centre for Ministry Studies there.

John has published extensively within the area of practical theology, pastoral care, mental health studies, disability theology and nursing. Some of his books include:

  • Dementia: Living in the Memories of God (2012);
  • Disability in the Christian Tradition: A Reader (2012), edited with Brian Brock;
  • Living Well and Dying Faithfully: Christian Practices for End-Of-Life Care (2009), edited with Richard Payne;
  • Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness (2008), with Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier;
  • Raging With Compassion: Pastoral responses to the problem of evil (2007);
  • Theology, Disability and the New Genetics: Why Science Needs the Church (2007), edited with Brian Brock;
  • Practical Theology and Qualitative Research (2006) with Dr. Harriet Mowat;
  • Critical Reflections on Stanley Hauerwas’ Essays on Disability: Disabling society, enabling theology (2005), edited with Stanley Hauerwas;
  • Spirituality in Mental Health Care: Rediscovering a “forgotten” dimension (2001);
  • Resurrecting the Person: Friendship and the care of people with severe mental health problems (2000);
  • The Spiritual Dimension of Pastoral Care: Practical theology in a multidisciplinary context (2000), edited with David Willows;
  • From Bedlam to Shalom: Towards a practical theology of human nature. Interpersonal relationships and mental health care (2000).

For further information about John go to:

The course will have six modules:

1) Introduction to Disability Theology

2) Disability in the Christian Tradition: Theologies of disability

3) Re-Thinking Discipleship: The vocation of people with profound intellectual disabilities.

4) Theology and mental health and illness: Understanding psychosis differently

5) Theology and mental health and illness: Depression

6) Forgetting whose we are: A practical theology of dementia.

The course can be undertaken in two ways:

• You can enrol with the Department of Theology and Religion, and take the course as either PAST 307 or MINS 405. The former can be credited to a BTheol or Diploma for Graduates, the latter for a Postgraduate Diploma of Ministry or a Master of Ministry, or for the new Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Chaplaincy or the Master of Chaplaincy (which are subject to final approval by the Committee on University Academic Programmes of the NZ Vice-Chancellors’ Committee); or the paper can be taken as a ‘Certificate of Proficiency’ and credited to a qualification at a later point. The cost is yet to be set, but the cost for PAST 307 in 2015 is $811 (+ sundry fees) and for MINS 405 is $1,225 (+ sundry fees) and fees will increase a little in 2016. Online enrolment for the course opens in July. To enrol go to and click on ‘Study at Otago Apply Online’.

For further details contact Paul Trebilco, Department of Theology and Religion or 03 4798 798


  • You can attend the course as an audit student by contacting KCML. This will cost $500. Under this option, you would not do any assessment, and the paper would not be credited to a qualification, but it would count as ongoing professional development for PCANZ.

To register for this option, contact: Catherine van Dorp, Registrar, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership;; 03 473 0783

For ministers in the PCANZ, study grants amounting to 50 per cent of course fees have already been approved.