Call for Applications: Psychology Cross-training Fellowship Programme for Theologians

Building Bridges Between Theology and Psychology

The fields of psychology and theology have multiple points of shared interest. Both psychologists and theologians take a strong interest in themes such as human personality, character and virtue, morality and ethics, and how we relate to one another as social creatures. There is great potential for theologians to enrich their work by considering insights and findings from the field of psychology, however all too often researchers in the two disciplines talk past one another. Both fields generate profound insights about what human beings are, what religion is and does, the nature of the world, and our knowledge of it, but the different methodological and explanatory frameworks of these disciplines are frequently viewed as incompatible or even in competition with one another.

The Fellowships

These fellowships are designed to provide the opportunity for theologians to break down disciplinary barriers and engage more deeply with psychological research to further theological exploration and practice. The fellowships will offer support for theologians to participate in an intensive 16-month programme in psychological cross-training, equipping them with the skills to draw upon insights from psychology and potentially providing them with funding to undertake psychologically informed theological research. The fellowships will build a community of science-engaged theologians who will be able to work independently or collaboratively to undertake new research, develop teaching materials incorporating psychological science, and raise the profile of this area of enquiry.

The 2023-2025 Fellowship Programme

Between 2023 and 2025, this program will support two fellowship schemes, each focused upon an area of psychology with specific relevance to theology.

The 2024-2025 cohort will address the subject of the role of religion in human flourishing in social relationships. The cohort will approach this through the lenses of social cognition and intergroup relations, with a focus on using insights from psychological science to enhance the theological understanding of social relationships in plural societies and spaces.  We will address the prevalence of barriers to flourishing social relationships as well as exploring the transformation of social and political life in Church, society and academy.  We anticipate this will be of interest to theologians conducting research in, with and for religious communities. This may include research: through lenses of postcolonial, black and feminist theologies; attending to rich cultural heritages and practices of community building; reimagining of relationships with reference to Christian conceptions of the good life; engaging in ecumenism or seeking to develop or undertake interfaith or cross-cultural activities; and many other questions of power, relating and flourishing.  This would include theologians working on moral reasoning, systematic, political and practical theologians. 

While project Fellows will develop their own research within this theme, some indicative research questions might include:

  • How might the fact of different cultural understandings of ‘flourishing’ challenge theological normativity? Do (for example, queer) visions of the good life disrupt assumptions about what is flourishing?
  • Can psychological investigation into mental health and wellbeing help theologians form new models of religious ‘good practice’?
  • Does religious belief inform people’s prosocial behavior, such as volunteering or charitable giving?
  • How do regular digital church gatherings impact on faith life?
  • What does research into mental wellbeing add to theological accounts of human flourishing?
  • How can Christian communities best build relationships of solidarity with its local community?
  • What is the experience of community in rural or dispersed religious communities?
  • How can Christian communities develop collective spiritual maturity?
  • What do Black and other ethnic minoritised experiences of liturgy indicate about contemporary liturgical practices?

What will the Fellows be expected to do?

Successful applicants to the fellowship programme will be able to participate in the following fully funded activities:

  • Participation in two residential workshops held at Birmingham University, UK.  In order to support attendance at these events, Fellows will be awarded £1000 honoraria per workshop, as well as having their travel/accommodation expenses paid.
  • Residential workshop 1 (2 weeks) will cover a basic grounding in psychological methods (please note: this is to familiarize project fellows with psychological methods, it is not an intensive methods training course), psychological research on the relationship between religion and human flourishing in social relationships, and approaches to applying psychological theories and methods in theological research.  Psychological topics covered may include:
    • Social identity theory and intergroup relations – positive and negative implications for human social flourishing including social identities and ingroup/outgroup distinctions, stereotypes/biases, prejudice/discrimination, social identity complexity, intergroup contact
    • Social-cognitive processes such as empathy and perspective taking
    • The role of virtues such as humility in interpersonal relationships
  • Residential workshop 2 (1 week) will provide support for ongoing small research projects in science-engaged theology. 
  • 12 monthly virtual half-day training workshops and one to one support with leading specialists in the fields of psychology and theology.
  • Applying for a small grant of up to £20,000 to fund a research project, funded through the Fellowship programme, in science-engaged theology, applying psychological theory, methods, and findings to theological questions and debates.  Please note that the deadline for this small grant is 2 September, so project fellows will need to plan for an intensive period of work between the first residential workshop and the grant deadline.
  • Receiving support from leading specialists in psychology and/or the psychology of religion who will provide mentoring and support in developing and carrying out research projects.
  • Attendance at a final project conference to be held in 2025 bringing together two cohorts of program Fellows and their psychologist mentors.

Through these activities, Fellows will be given the opportunity to join a cross-disciplinary community of researchers interested in conducting and collaborating on science-engaged theology. They will be equipped to understand foundational research in psychology, psychological research methods, and issues around psychological science and belief in society. They will take part in peer-to-peer working groups and have the opportunity to discuss the challenges and benefits of doing theology informed by psychological research, as well as present ideas to peers. They will be supported by a dedicated project team made up of both psychologists and theologians and supported by a range of advisors and mentors who are established in the field.

Applying for a Fellowship - deadline 1 March 2024

Application materials

Applications to this scheme will consist of:

  1. a completed application form
  2. a three-page CV, and
  3. a letter of support from your institution

The application form can be found below and will ask you to outline your areas of research interest, explain your reasons for applying to this scheme, and explain how you will use the resources provided to advance your research and/or teaching.

Application Form (MS Word)

Please email your application materials to the project email address:


The fellowship programme is open to theologians from any country who are fluent in English. We would normally expect theologians to have completed a PhD or other terminal degree in Christian theology, or a closely related field, and to be active researchers in at least one field within Christian theology. We are keen to have a range of theological disciplines represented, including but not limited to Biblical studies, systematic theology, political theology, theological ethics, ecclesiology, mystical theology, spirituality, practical theology, philosophy of religion, etc. We welcome applicants who are at any stage of their academic career, and we have ringfenced a proportion of spaces for early career academics.


Applicants will be assessed based on their receptivity to multidisciplinary approaches, desire and capacity to engage with the full program, and future plans to implement the research informed by psychological methods and findings.  They will also need to demonstrate that they will have the capacity within their workload to engage with all aspects of the programme in order to be considered as Fellows, as well as providing explicit and clear support from their institution (supported by a letter from their head of department/school or equivalent).

Important dates

Fellowship application deadline: 1 March 2024


Important dates

  • Fellowship application deadline: 1 March 2024
  • Fellowship dates: July 2024 – October 2025, with capstone event in August 2025
  • Workshop 1: 22 July – 2 August 2024
  • Small grant application due: 2 September 2024
  • Workshop 2: 7 April – 11 April 2025


For further information about this scheme please contact Dr Carissa Sharp at: