Research Students

The Centre for the Study of World Christianity offers supervised research degrees at the Masters and PhD levels. For more information, please see the University website.

The Centre attracts a diverse body of students from many different countries and religious traditions. Our students come from Cameroon, China, Ghana, India, Iran, South Korea, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, the USA, and, of course, the UK.

Current PhD Students

Agana-Nsiire AganaAgana-Nsiire Agana (Ghana)
My research is a gender-sensitive, empirically grounded, theoretical investigation of how Ghanaian Christian youth construct understandings of self online and how this relates to theological understandings of what it means to be human. It pursues a contextual and digitally informed conception of personhood drawing from the Kierkegaardian notion of the self as telos, Kwame Gyekye’s philosophy of relational personhood, and social-scientific discourses on the reconstitution of the self within modernity and digital culture.
Nico Brice-BennettNico Brice-Bennett (UK)
My research focuses on the history of Christianity and socio-political thought in Tanzania in the second half of the 20th century. It was a period when a strong national identity emerged and overt adherence to religious and ethnic identities was discouraged. Yet religion remained an important aspect of Tanzanian people’s lives, and religious institutions—primarily Christian ones—were responsible for the education of many of the nation’s post-independence leaders. My project combines archival research with ethnographic fieldwork in Kilimanjaro and Kagera, and focuses on oral histories amongst Catholic and Lutheran Chagga and Haya people.
Jeffrey Cannon Jeffrey Cannon (USA)
My thesis looks at attitudes within the Church of Scotland toward race and colonialism in Africa. Using images in church-produced magazines, newspapers, and other media, I examine both official and unofficial discourses within the church regarding South African apartheid and the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
Elilo EzungElilo Ezung (India)
My research focusses on pneumatology in the Naga context of Northeast India. I am interested in exploring the kind of pneumatology that currently exists and the varying historical and socio-political factors that have given shape to it. By examining theological texts of selected tribal theologians in conversation with other theologians from various contexts, I aim to explicate key pneumatological themes namely community, creation, and charismata which will be helpful for the construction of a pneumatological framework that encompasses ‘spiritual’ and ‘concrete’ dimensions.
McKenzie Fergus McKenzie Fergus (USA)
My research investigates the intersection between healing and religion at prayer camps in Ghana. These neo-Pentecostal facilities provide popular faith-based healing options for treating mental illness during Ghana’s current period of mental health care reform. I am conducting the first religious assessment on the healing traditions that define the diagnoses and treatments administered at prayer camps. My thesis argues that Ghanaian belief systems are the contributing factors behind the high demand for prayer camps’ healing traditions.
Jackie HwangJackie Hwang (US/Taiwan)
My research explores the themes of migration, multiple belonging, and transnationalism in Chinese Christianity beyond the geopolitical boundaries of China. It focuses on the interactions between Chinese students studying in Singapore’s universities and Singaporean Chinese Christians. It seeks to demonstrate that transnational connections take shape around a familial conception, literal and figurative, thereby providing a pathway for negotiating one’s sense of belonging in migration. My integration of ethnography and theology will also examine how this familial conception contributes to an understanding of missiology and ecclesiology in transnational Chinese contexts.
Nuam HatzawNuam Hatzaw (UK/Myanmar)
My research critiques Asian feminist theology from the standpoint of Zomi women in Chin State, Myanmar. Chin State is the least-developed region in Myanmar and is characterised by its remoteness, difficult terrain and extreme poverty and inequality. I’m interested in discovering how life in this context has shaped the ways in which Christian Zomi women understand and experience their faith. An interdisciplinary project, I combine theology with ethnography to construct a Zomi women’s theology, bringing it into conversation with Asian feminist theology. This project argues for the further contextualisation of Asian feminist theology so that it remains uplifting and liberating.
Christina LiChristina Li (Hong Kong)
My project conducts a socio-historical study of Christianity in Hong Kong, exploring how Protestant churches formulated their mission strategies and were consciously or unconsciously shaped by the changing social and political contexts in Hong Kong from 1967-1997. It pays particular attention to four aspects that characterised the Hong Kong context in this period: rapid urbanisation, immigration, a highly developed business and free enterprise culture, and the concluding phase of British rule. The research hopes to contribute to scholarship on the history of Christianity in Hong Kong, as well as supplementing the secular scholarship on Asian Tiger economies, by addressing the roles and contributions of the Protestant Christian community.
Elizabeth MarteijnElizabeth Marteijn (the Netherlands)
The question at the core of my thesis is how theology and context influence each other within the Palestinian Christian community. I am interested in employing a combination of theology and ethnography to explore the complex intersection between theology, tradition, politics, interreligious encounter and how Palestinian Christians negotiate these multiple factors.
Jane MengJane Meng (China)
My research is on the spirituality of Jia Yuming (1880-1964), with particular attention to the influences from the holiness movement and neo-Confucianism. It will examine Jia’s spirituality in light of the neo-Confucian mind-heart school, thereby distinguishing certain common concerns and approaches to self-cultivation. Furthermore, my research will compare Jia’s mystical inclination with the idea of self-transformation in Western Christian mysticism, to explore the relevance of the Christian mystical tradition in developing a Chinese Christian spirituality. On the basis of the uniqueness of Jia’s spirituality, my project will further reflect on the prevailing paradigms of classifying Chinese theologians.
Jeff PetersonJeff Peterson (USA)
My project is a three-decade history (1965-1995) of theological engagement among the Crow people of Montana (USA) and a visionary cohort of Catholic missionaries who arrived following Vatican II (1962-1965).  Because of the Crows’ location, collective identity, unique history and political relationships, the missionaries found an inviting place to attempt to carry out the ideals of Vatican II.  This study will contribute to discussions concerning inculturation, syncretism, and multiple-religious belonging, and will also demonstrate how this particular engagement was part of broader networks of influence and understanding.
Matt ReisMatt Reis (USA)
My thesis seeks to research the different ways that Brazilian Evangélicos in South Florida understand their identity and mission as an immigrant minority in the US, within their specific diasporic contexts. I am interested in analyzing the connections and disconnections in the areas of identity and concepts of missions amongst Brazilian Evangélicos of varied diasporic contexts, and across different generations.
Lucy Schouten Lucy Schouten (USA)
My research is a cross-disciplinary exploration within World Christianity, Migration Studies, and political theology. It seeking to understand how the Arab churches of Jordan are responding to—and being transformed by—the migration crisis in the Middle East since 2012. Based on several months of fieldwork in Jordan, it will address issues of Christian ecumenism and Christian-Muslim relations, in the Middle East and worldwide, and seek to develop a theology of hospitality in one of the countries most affected by migration, while attending to the concerns of faith, witness, and emigration specific to Christians in contemporary Jordan.
Dongjun Seo Dongjun Seo (South Korea)
My research focuses on the endeavours for Christian unity beyond denominational boundaries among evangelicals in South Korea from 1961 to 1994. It analyses the nature, extent, characteristics, and limitations of the endeavours by looking at trans-denominational evangelical institutions, events, and figures. My project brings together archival documents and oral history. It hopes to contribute to wider scholarship in three main ways: on the meaning of Christian unity and ecumenism, on the study of an indigenised form of evangelicalism in the majority world, and on the study of modern evangelicalism in Korea.
Robert Alec Simpson Robert Alec Simpson (USA)
My project aims to engage theologies of “the gift” from a global perspective by bringing theologians from various contexts in dialogue with Romanian Eastern Orthodox Theologian Dumitru Staniloae. By working at the intersections of Eastern Orthodox theology and World Christianity, the aim is to work towards a revised theology of the “World as a Gift” through an interrogation of the transcontextual themes of matter, space, and time.
Victoria Turner Victoria Turner (UK)
My research concentrates on youth contributions to the concepts of mission and ecumenism by exploring two case studies, the Iona Community, founded in 1938, and the Council for World Mission, formed in 1977 (formally the London Mission Society founded in 1795). It explores how these bodies have understood, practiced, and prioritised both mission and Christian unity in their work and where young people fit in, have influenced their vision, or have practically contributed to their work. My project also uses ethnography to research the current understandings of these terms by young people involved in these organisations.
Xie DingjianXie Dingjian (China)
My project is a theological investigation of Jingjiao in Tang China (CE 618–907), which originated in the Church of the East (formerly regarded as Nestorian Christianity) and contextualized in the Chinese context. Based on the Jingjiao corpus discovered in China in the 20th and 21st centuries, this research attempts to offer a coherent account of Jingjiao theology. Furthermore, it attempts to discuss the role of translation in the process of Christian transmission and theologizing. Uncovering the dialogic nature of Jingjiao brings about a dynamic picture of the encounters and the interactions between the Church of the East and Chinese culture.
Zhu BiaoZhu Biao (China/Canada)
My research examines the ecclesiological complexity of the Protestant Church in mainland China by identifying the distinctive Chinese ecclesiologies of four Chinese Protestant ecclesiological movements (namely, Little Flock, traditional house church, Three-Self Patriotic Movement, and urban house church). It shows how ecclesiological differences address different contextual needs. Furthermore, it develops an ecclesiological framework to assess the historical contextual requirements and the contemporary challenges of these Chinese ecclesiologies, and hopes to prompt developments among each movement.

Selection of Recently Completed PhDs