Professor Awarded Grant to Research Spiritual Guide to Dimensions of Trauma Recovery

August 28, 2012

Gillian Ahlgren, professor of theology at Xavier University, has been awarded a $40,000 grant from the Louisville Institute for a research sabbatical from September 1 – May 1, 2013.

Her project, “Beyond the Dark Night: Theological and Spiritual Resources for Trauma Recovery,” builds on the belief that the struggle for those recovering from trauma to reintegrate themselves into the human community requires a theologically-informed and pastorally sensitive approach in addition to a clinical psychological approach.

“Traumatic events involve a crisis of meaning,” says Ahlgren. “They can shake one’s confidence in the goodness of life and the goodness of humanity.” Her research seeks to answer many questions. How can we address the process of holistic reintegration of the psyche and human spirit once it has been shattered? How can we consider new possibilities for human and spiritual development when repeatedly disrupted by violence? What could this mean for returning veterans, survivors of rape, human trafficking, domestic violence, and other? “Beyond the Dark Night” engages an interdisciplinary conversation intended to empower trauma survivors and those who care for them with life-giving resources from the Christian tradition.

Founded in 1990, the Louisville Institute is a Lilly Endowment-funded program based at Louisville Seminary supporting those who lead and study American religious institutions. The Louisville Institute seeks to enrich the religious life of American Christians and to encourage the strengthening of their institutions, by bringing together pastors and academics so that the work of each might inform and strengthen the work of the other. The Louisville Institute offers funding through several competitive grant programs, designed to address different issues and to assist different groups of institutions and individuals.

The Sabbatical Grant for Researchers Program assists research and writing projects that will advance religious and theological scholarship in ways that also address practical issues concerning Christian faith and practice, pastoral leadership, and/or religious institutions.