Study tool for the teaching of history of Christianity and Christian thought in the West

Principal Supervisor

Professor Tobias Brandner, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies


2 years and 9 months

Approved Budget

HK $200,000

  • Project Objectives
  • Key deliverables expected
  • Evaluation of deliverables/outcomes
  • Dissemination of deliverables/outcomes

Project Objectives

The project aims at designing a teaching and study tool for students of theology, of religious and cultural studies, and for general education in undergraduate teaching to enhance the teaching and learning of theological, religious, and cultural thought of the West in a way that is relevant for the Asian and more specifically the Chinese context.

One of the challenges in teaching the development of Christianity and Christian thought or more broadly the development of Western religious and cultural institutions and thought is that many students in the Asian context have resistance to such foreign concepts. An important reason for the ‘fear of the study of history’ is that students find it difficult to see what it has to do with themselves, as they are living in a different time and different socio-cultural context.

Another major challenge is the lack of an appropriate and contextually aware study tool. Several handbooks on Western church history or on the history of theology or philosophy in the West have been translated, but they are in the format of traditional handbooks without regard to the learning needs of non-Western students and without taking the contextual interests of the Chinese environment into account.

Based on this background, the project includes the following features:

  • A systematic presentation of 2000 years of Christianity and of the development of theological ideas in the West in a highly structured form
  • Explanations about how the history of the church and of Christian thought has fundamentally shaped Western culture (e.g. constitutionalism, democracy, work ethics, individualism, etc.)
  • Charts and illustrations for better understanding
  • Provision of reference material for further studies of the different topics
  • Selection of some readable and understandable primary sources
  • For each chapter a list of questions will be offered to provide guidance for study groups. The questions help
    (a) in deepening the understanding; and
    (b) in linking the historical discussion with the present and the local context of Hong Kong and China
  • An electronic study tool with short study questions and for interactive learning.

  • Its content covers the four major periods of the Western church, the ancient church, the medieval church, the Reformation period, and the modern church including developments in Northern America and the emergence of global Christianity. The planned study tool further introduces the major denominational traditions of the West, the Roman-Catholic tradition, the Orthodox tradition, and the Protestant tradition with its various denominational groups, from the traditions of the magisterial Reformation through denominations of the 18th and 19th century to the emergence of revivalist groups in the 20th century. It further includes introductory reflections on the relevance of historical studies.

    Key deliverables expected and timelines for completion

    What the planned project delivers will be the completion of an interactive and partly electronic learning tool that can be used by students of CUHK and other institutions of higher learning in Hong Kong or China. There will be no deliverables at earlier stages of the project. The project will begin in April 2013 and aims at a completion by March 2015. The project supervisor hopes to dedicate a period of teaching relief that he applied for the second term of the 2013-14 to focus on working on the project.

    The following shall further be noted:

  • The TDG fund shall primarily be used for the employment of a Research Assistant. Based on the approved grant, employment will be possible on a part-time basis. The project supervisor hopes that the employment of a research assistant in the project at the same time serves to qualify a future teacher in this field.
  • Arrangements for evaluation of project deliverables/outcomes

    The main criteria for evaluation will be whether successful publication of the teaching and study tool happens. An assessment of the effective sale of the publication and its use in teaching and studying in other institutions can only happen after sufficient time after publication.

    Means for disseminating project deliverables/outcomes

    The published teaching and study tool shall be disseminated through professional contacts and through established networks.