Dr Eric Stoddart

Dr Eric Stoddart

Lecturer in Practical Theology

Researcher profile

Phone
+44 (0)1334 462841
Email
es61@st-andrews.ac.uk

 

Biography

Eric joined the School of Divinity in 2005. Previously, he held positions at the University of Aberdeen and the Scottish Churches Open College in Edinburgh. Prior to his academic career, Eric was in pastoral ministry in a Scottish Baptist church. He received his PhD in practical theology from the University of Aberdeen in 2001.

During his time at St Andrews, Eric has served in a range of capacities within the School, including Distance Learning Officer, Director of Operations (as part of the management team), Undergraduate Admissions Officer, Postgraduate Officer, Webmaster, and Alumni Development Officer. He is currently editor of the School?s annual alumni magazine, In Principio.

He is a past editor of the journal Practical Theology,and was co-chair of the British & Irish Association for Practical Theology from 2006 to 2009.

 

Surveillance & Religion Network

Eric initiated and coordinates (with a colleague from Sweden) the international Surveillance & Religion Network. This network was awarded funding 2016-2018 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. One of its major outputs is a special issue (guest edited by Eric and his Swedish colleague) of the journal Surveillance and Society in December 2018 of which 50% of the articles had been delivered in one form or another at a network workshop. Details of the network are available here.

Explanations of Research

Explanations of Eric?s own research in surveillance are available for

 

Bible and the Contemporary World Research

Eric has initiated the appointment of Honorary Research Assistants (HRAs) as a scheme to further the work of the School?s distance learning programme, the Bible and the Contemporary World. Under his direction, the HRAs (all alumni of this programme) engage in research in biblical studies and theology, in relation to other disciplines in the arts, humanities and social sciences, towards the pursuit of defined projects relevant to the mission of the Bible and the Contemporary World programme; described in the programme specification as ?how culture shapes, and has been shaped by, Christian belief, practice and theology?. Details of the HRAs? projects, including opportunities when these arise, are available at http://bcw.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/research/.

Eric has given public lectures on surveillance and theology in Belfast, Edinburgh and Durham. He has been a keynote speaker at summer schools for Durham University?s Doctor of Theology and Ministry programme (2015), and for the Doctorate in Practical Theology consortium (2017).

Conversations in Practical Theology

As part of a collaborative project to explore the multi-faith opportunities of practical theology, Eric and Saiyyidah Zaidi (a Muslim practical theologian) record a regular series of ?Conversations in Practical Theology? for their YouTube channel. The hope is to expand these conversations to include those between practical theologians of other faiths.

Further information on Eric?s research activities are at: http://ericstoddart.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/ .

Teaching

  • Co-ordinator of interdisciplinary schools placement module for the Faculties of Arts and Divinity: 'Communication in the Arts and Humanities' (2010- , annually).
  • Co-ordinator of 'Living Faith' (now ?Introduction to Practical Theology and Christian Ethics?)  first year undergraduate module (delivering 50% of module) (2011- , annually).
  • Co-ordinator of 'Theology and Pastoral Care' honours module (2006- , every second year).
  • Co-ordinator of 'Citizenship: A Practical Theological Exploration' (2005-2009, every second year).
  • Co-ordinator of 'Digital Faith' - a module within MLitt / PGDip Distance Learning postgraduate programme 'Bible and the Contemporary World' (2011).
  • Co-ordinator of ?Citizenship: A Practical Theological Exploration? ? a module within MLitt / PGDip Distance Learning postgraduate programme 'Bible and the Contemporary World' (2006).
  • Co-ordinator of ?The Bible and Contemporary Issues? - a module within MLitt / PGDip Distance Learning postgraduate programme 'Bible and the Contemporary World', 25% contributor (2011, 2015, 2017, 2019)
  • Co-ordinator of ?Surveillance, Theology, and the Bible? ? a module within a module within MLitt / PGDip Distance Learning postgraduate programme 'Bible and the Contemporary World', 100% contribution (2016, 2018).
  • Supervision of undergraduate honours dissertations, and pgt MLitt dissertations.

Research areas

My main research interests lie in surveillance and in digital technologies more generally ? all from a practical theological perspective.

In a nutshell, I am curious about the faith which our societies place in technologies as supposed solutions to relationship challenges across a whole host of levels and in a multitude of contexts. 

Surveillance enables complex societies to function. This is not the world of Bentham?s ?Panopticon? but of dataveillance; dispersed and rhizomatic systems of assemblage of information. Boundaries are fluid yet heavily policed. Data-doubles are sorted into categories by which behaviour is orchestrated. To a greater or lesser extent, all members of advanced capitalist societies are beneficiaries, objects and practitioners of ubiquitous surveillance.

Theological critique of contemporary surveillance cultures might readily turn to traditional discourse around divine omniscience and God?s watching over creation. The project that I am unfolding adopts a quite different paradigm. It is Christ?s surveillance from the cross that frames my approach. One under surveillance keeps watch over the world, in solidarity with all those under others? monitorial gaze for whom the outcomes are life-denying.

I am contending that, whilst the technological devices by which surveillance is deployed are important points for theological reflection, there are underpinnings that are of even more pressing concern. Surveillance is predicated upon managing risk but advanced capitalist societies are unable to handle the contingency of God?s world. One part of the theological task is to demonstrate to the wider world how fragile are its conceptual foundations whilst offering a vision of non-naïve trust in God.

TPoSS Cover graphic

PhD supervision

  • Richard Grant
  • Stefanie Conradt
  • Shanen Boettcher

Selected publications

 

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