PThU and ETF Leuven launch research on hope in agriculture and healthcare

25 March 2024

There are several crises in the public debate on agriculture and healthcare, where the future is uncertain. In these crises, what is the role of hope? For example, what do healthcare providers and farmers hope for? In May, the Protestant Theological University (PThU) will start a four-year research on this subject together with the Evangelical Theological Faculty (ETF) Leuven. The research also pays attention to the role of hope in Christian theology. The lead researchers (Van den Heuvel, ETF; Olsman, PThU) have already collaborated on previous projects around hope.

Hope during crises

The new ethical-theological and practical-theological research contributes to a better understanding of how 'hope' functions in situations involving crises. For example, how do (heavily burdened) informal carers and care professionals experience these crises and what do they draw hope from? And what hope do farmers cherish, for instance when they see their future shattered? More insight into this provides knowledge for how hope functions in times of crises and what the role of Christian theology can be. The research focuses on farmers and caregivers from diverse philosophical backgrounds, with a particular focus on the Christian believers among them. 

Spiritual care

The research additionally focuses on how professionals in the church and spiritual care workers deal with this hope. How can they properly guide hope, hopelessness and despair? Prof Erik Olsman: "This includes, for example, the question: how can you properly guide people with unrealistic hopes?" He adds, "Another question is how, for example, believing farmers and caregivers connect their own hope with the (great) hope for the Kingdom of God. And whether guidance in this is desirable, and if so what kind?"

Link with other PThU projects

The research links up with already ongoing PThU projects, such as spiritual care for (relatives of) people with a serious physical or psychiatric condition (Olsman) or people with a mental disability (Mulder, Olsman, Tromp). It also ties in with the Soil Project (Klomp et al.), which focuses on the theologically responsible relationship to the earth. The Moral Compass project (Schaafsma et al.) reflects on a moral compass in times of moral pluralism, which forms the moral context of (hope in) agriculture and health care. Finally, the project ties in with the Future-oriented Church Project (Van den Toren and Van der Meulen), as the project is about hope, also in relation to Christian theology.


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