Attention to spirituality is essential for the expressiveness of academic theology
The Evangelische Theologische Faculteit in Leuven (ETF Leuven) opened the 2023-2024 academic year today with no fewer than 82 new students. The number of new registrations is increasing this year in all educational programs. Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock gave the opening lecture about the importance of spirituality in academic theology.
The student total for 2023-2024 is estimated to be 240. Remarkably, the growth in the number of new residential students in the bachelor’s program has also continued.
Growth and challenge
In his opening speech, Rector Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock discussed how ETF Leuven wants to be a stimulating place for high school graduates as well as for lateral entrants and international students. The financial challenges for the faculty did not go unmentioned. “Revenues have difficulty keeping pace with the rising costs in recent years. There lies a challenge for our faculty.
The growth in student numbers only encourages us to take even more responsibility in this regard. This is not just limited to attempts to obtain higher government subsidies. We also develop initiatives for a better exploitation of the campus, we take cost-cutting measures where possible, and I boldly appeal to our supporters to make the work of ETF Leuven financially possible.”
Spirituality and theological education
In his opening lecture, Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock explained that attention to spirituality is important for the expressiveness and relevance of theology. Inner commitment to existential questions on the one hand and scientific distance in theology on the other are not opposed to each other but reinforce each other. “When theological and spiritual formation are connected, what is at stake becomes clearer; in faith, in theology, and in considering your own life and the world around you,” says De Kock.
Attention to spirituality is one of the main priorities in the policy of the Dean’s office of ETF Leuven. The theology and religious studies programs were recently accredited by the NVAO (Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organization) for a new period of six years. Dean Prof. Dr. Jelle Creemers: “In the site visit that preceded it, the attention to spirituality was noticed by the external assessment committee. Not surprising, because we recently discussed the interconnectedness of spirituality in our education and research with staff and students. The committee is also enthusiastic about our updated educational programs, which more consciously strive to connect with today’s church and society. This year we also started our new five-year research program, with an increased focus on interdisciplinarity. We therefore stand strong as a Protestant-evangelical theological institution, with our eyes focused forward.”
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About Prof. Dr. Jos de Kock
Jos de Kock (1978) has been rector since 2019 and also administrative director of ETF Leuven from the beginning of this year. He is professor and department chair of Practical Theology, coordinator of the educational master’s degree in religion and coordinator of the research institute ISREYM, Institute for the Study of Religious Education and Youth Ministry.
About the ETF Leuven
The Evangelische Theologische Faculteit in Leuven (ETF Leuven) is a Flemish institution for academic higher education. It is characterized by a Protestant-evangelical identity, a cross-denominational orientation, an international character and a combination of highly qualified academic work and attention to community building and spirituality.