Lumen Conference

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Lumen Research Institute International Conference

Call for Presentations

Faith, Cohesion, and Communities

To register or inquire about the conference, please contact:

Dr Maureen Miner Bridges, at 
or Prof Kirsty Beilharz, at

Faith, Cohesion, and Communities

2–3 August 2023

Excelsia College

In The Phenomenology of Spirit of 1807, Hegel described the social reality of his time as the ‘topsy-turvy world’ (die verkehrte Welt) in which even the best-made projects turn into their opposite – ‘a dream of freedom into terror, morality into hypocrisy, excessive wealth into poverty of the majority’ (Slavoj Zažek, Surplus—Enjoyment, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022, p1). More than two hundred years later, it is not clear that signs of ‘progress’ such as the Internet of Things (pervasive computing), artificial intelligence, tremendous scientific advances, greater psychological understanding of the mind and cognitive mechanisms, the march of democracies, capitalism, globalisation of cultures, trade, and economy, have achieved coherence and ordering of the topsy-turvy chaos to which Hegel referred. The aspirations of freedom, fraternity and equality are not realised; there is fragmentation across all areas of life instead of connection, compassion, and justice.

In the area of social media, the internet promised us infinite connectivity and certainly transformed the social experience of whole generations. Education, too, is transformed by play-inspired methods of maker-space learning, peer-learning, intercultural dialogue, new histories and geographies enabled by real-time discourse, and the synchronous exchange of ideas. Churches have (in some cases) become ‘mega’, global not local, with multilingual live translation and televised, and our Bibles are in our pockets on a phone not a tenderly leather-bound tome. Cities and populations are expanding to cover tens of thousands of kilometres but condense people into closer and closer proximity.

Yet despite this growth, people feel ever more isolated and lonelier. Students in online classrooms claim to be disengaged and excluded from communities of learning, practice, and social interaction. Older people are more likely to feel depressed and lonely than overwhelmed by the speed of the topsy-turvy world. Mental health, counselling, and wellbeing practices are seeing increasing numbers of people affected by identity and personality disorders. One can sit on a Tokyo train amidst millions of commuters and feel alone or even die from overwork (karoshi) without being noticed. Zaźek posits ‘we live in a weird moment where multiple catastrophes—pandemic, global warming, social tensions, the prospect of full digital control over our thinking …—compete for primacy’, (ibid, p.2) where arguably these multiple catastrophes have amplified the disconnection, disintegration, and fragmentation of individuals, communities, and societies.

In response, we are holding the ‘Faith, Cohesion, and Communities’ conference. This 2023 Lumen conference asks the questions of whether Christian faith can contribute meaningfully to cohesion, and whether Christian faith can influence re-connection, integration, and orderliness amidst the chaos. Further, through the gathering and transformation of communities, can such faith offer ethical insights mitigating cultural dilution, virtuality, and social and political fragmentation, together with steadfast commitment to appease violence and unrest? Or, is faith, too, a victim impacted by fragmentation? How has Christian faith been impacted by fragmentation of self, society, polity, economy, or culture?

Papers addressing these questions are sought from the following disciplinary areas:

•      education, inclusive and engaging pedagogies, scholarship (from pre-school to higher education)

•     mental health, counselling, and wellbeing

•     social work, community-building

•     services and strategies supporting assimilation, integration, inclusion

•     business and public policy

•     theology, ethics, and religious/spiritual studies, philosophy

•     creative and performing arts

•     media and cultural studies

Information for presenters

Presentations will be 20 minutes in length plus 10 minutes allowed for discussion. Prizes will be awarded for best theoretical, empirical and student papers.


Expressions of interest (EOI) are required to book a place in the conference schedule. In the EOI please include:

• a working title for the presentation

• the discipline area(s) of the paper

• name(s) and affiliation(s) of authors

• contact details, including phone and email

• for student papers, degree and supervisor or lecturer


Closing date for expression of interest:  14 April 2023


Confirmation of inclusion in the conference will require a proposal that includes an abstract or summary.

Proposals for papers should include:

• a succinct explanatory title

• an abstract or summary: abstract by established researchers (approx. 150–400 words); or summary by student researchers (approximately 1,000 words)

• name(s) and affiliation(s) of authors

• contact details, including phone and email

• if there is intention to lodge a full-length written paper for peer review


Closing date for proposals:  28 April 2023


Papers to be presented at the conference may be submitted in writing for peer review and potential inclusion in publications arising out of the conference such as a themed monograph or journal issue in addition to electronic proceedings.  These written papers will be approximately 5,000 words in length and use APA formatting.  Papers will be selected for external publication by independent, blind peer reviewers.


Closing date for written papers for peer review:  30 June 2023

Keynote Speaker

Everett L. Worthington, Jr., Ph.D., is Commonwealth Professor Emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University. He holds a Faculty Affiliate appointment at the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University (Human Flourishing Program), and he is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in Virginia. He has published widely on the science of self- and other-forgiveness among other topics, and he has developed the REACH Forgiveness model (see for free resources), supported in over 30 published randomized controlled trials, and other practical interventions to help people reach their potential.

You are invited to our open day and 40-year celebration

10 am Saturday 5 Aug 2023