Ertegun Staff and Scholar Profiles

Tobias Tan

MPhil Modern Theology | 2014 Graduate

I grew up in Canberra, Australia and also undertook my undergraduate study there at The Australian National University and Charles Sturt University. My academic journey thus far has been an inter‐disciplinary feast, including studies in Classics, Commerce, Information Technology and Theology. I have also immersed myself in several research-intensive environments as a research assistant on a Biblical Hebrew Linguistics project, as Pastoral Fellow at Burgmann College (ANU) and through working in the Oral History and Folklore Collection at the National Library of Australia.

In my masters dissertation I considered the how recent develops in cognitive science might reshape theological methodologies. In particular, I explored the emerging field of embodied cognition, which considers how factors beyond the brain—such as emotional body states, perceptual interactions or engagement with material culture—might participate in our cognitive processes. If we ought to broaden our understanding of what it means to think to include such factors, as theories of embodied cognition suggest, might we similarly expand our assumptions about theological thinking? Might embodied religious practices be cognitive and therefore theological in interesting ways?

The Ertegun Programme was the ideal setting to further this interdisciplinary project. The scholarship offered the support and the freedom to explore new areas of research and to bring them into dialogue with my own discipline. In addition, it created a community of engaging scholars who were similarly pushing the boundaries of their own disciplines. The programme also provided a springboard into further study. I hope to further develop my research into the interface between theology and embodied cognition during my doctoral studies as the Arthur Peacocke Graduate Scholar at Exeter College, Oxford.