Colombia: faith and education after forced displacement

Colombia: faith and education after forced displacement

Tuesday, 14 February 2023 - 5:00pm
Pavilion Room, St Antony's College
Dr Christopher Hays, Biblical Seminary of Colombia
Education, Purpose and Human Flourishing in Uncertain Times

This seminar is part of the Education, Purpose and Human Flourishing in Uncertain Times research programme.

Theme 3: History and Politics

This series explores how we might better understand the ‘idea’ or indeed the ideal of flourishing, and the importance of education as a pathway to it. Previously, we first examined a variety of important concepts concerning personhood and society as it relates to flourishing, such as character and virtue, and asked whether flourishing lies in the development of these. In the second seminar series, we turned our attention to other notions interdependently related to flourishing, specifically the notions of culture and context. We asked whether and how the development of mind and socio-emotional qualities such as character, virtue, open-mindedness, resilience, and actualisation are differently, but no less meaningfully, shaped by history and culture across world contexts. In this third series, we are turning to the impact of history and politics on pathways and understandings of human flourishing. We ask to what extent we should consider enabling and disabling historical factors in national and international contexts, and point towards examples of collective endeavour and struggle in response to adversity.

These seminars are open to the public and can be joined in person, or virtually on the following MS Teams link: Click here to join the meeting.

Recordings of past seminars can be found at this link.


This paper describes how a Protestant seminary in Medellín, the Fundación Universitaria Seminario Bíblico de Colombia, combined the resources of theology, social sciences, and education to respond to the humanitarian crisis of forced internal displacement in Colombia. In the Faith and Displacement project, the researchers fused the Latin American theological concept of “integral mission” with the tenets of Participatory Action Research, to create a new approach to applied theological research: “Missional Action Research.” Within the Missional Action Research framework, the project’s Pedagogy team led the creation of educational materials designed first to mobilize Christian professionals in local faith communities, and thereafter to foster those professionals’ work with victims of forced displacement. Using the insights of a range of social sciences, fused with theology, and activated through the professional skills of lay members of religious communities, the project provides one example of how education, undergird by faith, can foster human flourishing in a context of trenchant human suffering.


Christopher M. Hays is president of Scholar Leaders International (Illinois, USA), director of the Faith and Displacement project at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia in Medellín, and a fellow at the Center for Enterprise, Markets, and Ethics at Oxford University. His research interests are in New Testament wealth ethics and migration. His most recent books are When the Son of Man Didn’t Come (2016) and Renouncing Everything: Money and Discipleship in Luke (2016). He holds a D.Phil. in New Testament studies from the University of Oxford.