Sisters In Arms Conference

By: Jamie Howard

What a privilege to attend the Sisters in Arms Conference this January at the Moller Centre in Cambridge. Thanks to the St. John’s Student Opportunities Fund, I was able to present a paper that I had been thinking about for months. The conference centred on the place of Theology and Philosophy in a discourse that is moving heavily in the direction of the empirical. Questions were entertained about what kind of voice philosophers or theologians can expect in the future, and what relationship they might have together, as they face the reality of research going towards a more “lived” experience and knowledge.

could this be a means to connect disciplines?

My own paper was on the role of intuition as an epistemological method respected in many fields – having a historical place in philosophy through Kant’s work, and in theology by connections with revelation. Since intuition is more broadly respected, I asked, could this be a means to connect disciplines? Perhaps bolstering the “sisters in arms” by way of a mutually upheld epistemology? 

The conference was heavily attended by interesting scholars from Europe, as it was held in celebration of the International Journal of Philosophy and Theology reaching it’s 80th year in existence. Other Johanians were there to present as well, speaking about their own research. I enjoyed meeting these scholars and exchanging ideas and literature references, especially over the delicious meals offered by the Moller Centre! Incredibly, two of the key note speakers were women with whom I had either been in contact in the past regarding unrelated academic endeavours, or whom I had been told that I should meet if I were ever given the chance! Both were lovely and helpful. The connections will certainly help my research. I am thrilled to have had the chance to interact with them both.

What made this conference most exceptional for me, however, was the fact that my sister, who lives quite far away from me in the United States, was able to fly into London from Florida and enjoy bits of Cambridge and a few other UK destinations during the conference. She stayed with me in the Moller Centre, and got to know a few of the other attendees as well. All the incredible attributes of Britain (which I had been writing in email and a blog from when I was able to live in Durham) became as real to her as they had been to me. Flowers everywhere despite it being January,  the plethora of cute and unique buildings, shops with independent vendors, and the constant availability of a good cup of coffee all convinced her that England is truly the wonderful place I had described last year. As my sister and I moved about the conference, we were dubbed the “sisters in arms.” 

I am very grateful to be a part of St. John’s, and am amazed that the college can offer help to students in the form of supporting such opportunities. Without the help, I could not have presented my paper or met these other scholars.

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