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Conference to examine faith and health

Author: Arts and Letters


The University of Notre Dame will host a conference titled “Faith and Health: An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Dynamics of Religious Coping” from Dec. 3 to 5 (Sunday to Tuesday) at McKenna Hall.

The goal of the conference is to deepen the understanding of the connection between theological and social science perspectives on faith and health. The conference will bring together scholars from theology, medicine and psychology and enable them to present information from their respective disciplines and to integrate that information in order to set a new agenda for the field of faith and health.

“There is a theology of prayer that has a rich tradition in religion and religious mysticism, and there is a concomitant body of research on prayer in the social sciences,” said Thomas V. Merluzzi, a Notre Dame professor of psychology and director of the Laboratory for Psychooncology Research. "Yet, the integration of those lines of thought has not occurred.

“Similarly, there is theological perspective on suffering and a psychology of meaning that impinges on the process of coping with illness. Yet, again, these intellectual lines of thought do not intersect in the literature on coping. While this initial effort will focus on Christianity, it will hopefully set the stage to explore connections with other faith traditions.”

Merluzzi and other conference organizers believe that the event will be relevant for scholars and students in theology, philosophy and the social sciences, health care educators and professionals, therapists, medical social workers, people serving in ministry, doctors training in family medicine residency programs and Hospice volunteers and staff.

The conference will feature many of the leading scholars in the field of faith and health including: Harold Koenig, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, associate professor of medicine, and co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Duke University; Kenneth Pargament, professor of psychology, Bowling Green State University; Amanda Porterfield, Robert A. Spivey Professor of Religion, Florida State University; Christina Puchalski, director, George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health; and Lawrence Sullivan, professor of theology, Notre Dame.

The conference is sponsored by Notre Dame’s Graduate School, College of Arts and Letters, Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, Departments of Psychology and Theology, and the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Registration details and more information on the conference are available at: .

Contact: Thomas V. Merluzzi, professor of psychology, 574-631-5623, or .

Originally published by William G. Gilroy at on November 10, 2006.