About the MA in myth, cosmology and the sacred

The MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred ran for seven years at Canterbury Christ Church University, 2014-2021. Previously, a similar programme ran at the University of Kent from 2006-2011. Both programmes were devised by Angela Voss and Geoffrey Cornelius, with the support and collaboration of William Rowlandson and Patrick Curry at Kent, and Wilma Fraser, Simon Wilson and Louise Livingstone at Christ Church. 

In planning the programmes we were very inspired by the work of Jeffrey Kripal, Religious Studies professor from Rice University, Texas, and this is what he has to say about an integrative approach to studying sacred texts and traditions:

“[There are] types of understanding that are at once passionate and critical, personal and objective, religiousand academic. Such forms of knowledge are not simply academic, although they are that as well, and rigorouslyso. But they are also transformative, and sometimes soteriological.” (Kripal, 2001: 5)

He points to the essential pedagogical aims of the MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred: to investigate and develop imaginative, creative and participatory methodologies for the study of mythopoeic, sacred and symbolic texts and traditions within a rigorous academic framework, through exploring aspects of the history and epistemology of esoteric (i.e., holistic or transpersonal) philosophy, spirituality and ritual practice from antiquity to the present day.

From this basis, the urgent question of the value of nonrational (i.e., intuitive, imaginal and spiritual) modes of perception and knowledge in academic and social discourse were addressed, and ways of understanding the conflicting claims of scientific and religious reality constructs were considered. The MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred sought to broaden the understanding of texts, traditions and practices defined as “spiritual”, “sacred”, or “esoteric” through employing innovative and progressive pedagogy (i.e., experiential engagement and artistic modes of expression) as well as developing critical faculties. It aimed to foster academic excellence, personal reflection, professional enhancement, and social awareness. For this reason, our MA was ideally situated within the Education Faculty, as it embodied the ideals of transformative learning in an interdisciplinary and open minded enquiry into different ways of knowing, and their appropriate relationship with each other. Our work is now continuing with the Centre for Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred. We hope you will enjoy the offerings from the students on this site.

Dr Geoffrey Cornelius, Dr Angela Voss, Dr Simon Wilson,

Dr Louise Livingstone, Dr Wilma Fraser

View of the Cathedral from the University

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