The Role of Faith in Sustainable Global Health

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Pavilion Room, Hughes Hall, Cambridge, CB1 2EW

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We continue with our Cultural Contexts of Sustainable Global Health Seminars with a series examining the role of faith. Most of the world's religions emphasise the importance of caring for the sick and vulnerable and faith based hospitals and clinics are witness to this. In the first presentation we continue with an historical perspective of the Global Health, Faith and Development in Colonial and Post Colonial Ghana and the meeting points of organised and personal faith and government. In the second presentation we will explore the spiritual aspects of health and healing. The seminar will conclude with a chaired open discussion with the speakers from the floor. As before we hope and expect there to be many questions that need to be followed up in future events or developed in individual research work.

Through historical and theological research programmes we aim to:

  • Explore the potential impact of an individual's faith on their health,
  • Better understand the role of faith in delivering sustainable global health,
  • Define elements that require further clarification and or research in this area.


16:45 Coffee/tea/arrivals
17:15 Dr Arthur Hibble: Introduction to the seminar and speakers
17:20 Dr Ben Walker: Global Health, Faith and Development in Colonial and Postcolonial Ghana
17:40 Dr Alastair Lockhart: Personal Religion and Spiritual Healing in the 20th Century
18:00 Q&A conversation with the speakers and the participants
18:45 Summary and closing remarks Dr Arthur Hibble
18.55 Drinks and nibbles in the Atrium.
19:30 Close

Dr Arthur Hibble, former GP, GP Postgraduate Dean and Hughes Hall Senior Member.

Alastair Lockhart, Director of Studies in Theology, Religion & Philosopy of Religion, University of Cambridge and Senior Member, Hughes Hall

Accessing the ways in which ideas about religion and healing are constituted by individuals in their personal practice presents special research challenges; there are few sources, and where records were made they were rarely retained. This paper discusses the findings of a study of letters about religion and healing, collected between 1924 and 2012, held by a small (now defunct) religious group. Based on a systematic study of several thousand letters written by ordinary people in nearly 100 countries to the Society, the paper presents an account of the diversity and main themes that can be identified in the ways people used and understood religion and healing during the twentieth century. The letters written by users of the healing in four countries in particular (Jamaica, the USA, the UK, and Finland) are assessed.

Dr Ben Walker, Associate Team Leader, Diocese of York

Faith has played a central role in the creation of ‘Global Health’ across the twentieth-century. The emergence of healthcare in colonial and postcolonial Ghana was formed by the competing and cooperating interests of international health organisations, the aid agencies of foreign governments, the national government of Ghana, Ghanaian doctors, medical missions of a variety of denominations and nationalities, and ordinary Ghanaians themselves. Amidst all of these battles, alliances and negotiations, faith and religion constantly figured. Contrary to the classic historical frameworks for twentieth-century international health which emphasise the significance of the Cold War, the postwar growth of the international community and imperial powers working in former colonies, this talk will show how healthcare in Ghana was created substantially through the local and global interests, funding and denominational cultures of Christian medical missions.

This event is part of a series supported by The Bridge, the Hughes Hall initiative for linking academic strengths with wider challenges and opportunities.

Non college members welcome.

Queries about this event? Contact Dr Arthur Hibble

Photo credit: Map of health: Odra Noel. CC BY-NC

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Pavilion Room, Hughes Hall, Cambridge, CB1 2EW

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