History of the Conference - Dr Maithrie White
The vision for a postgraduate conference emerged during my doctoral studies in the University of Nottingham. It arose out of the realisation that a celebration of academic pursuit is a vital aspect of our worship as Christian academics. Our earth, is the Lord's and the fulness thereof. As is our universe. The University, however flawed, is a place where God's truths may be pursued, and our world in all its diversity is investigated. However distorted some of this pursuit might be, it nevertheless acknowledges the possibility of some degree of understanding God's world and our universe. As Christians, we can celebrate this human impulse to discover the nature of our world and our common humanity. The conference also emerged out of dissatisfaction at the divide between faith and academic life in Christian postgraduates lives. We have our Christian life on the one hand, and our Academic existance on the other - the great secular/ sacred divide. There was also the vision to encourage Christian Postgrads to bring Christian thinking or voices into our engagement in the academic world.
In a practical sense, the conference was the outcome of a Graduate Christian Fellowship group in Nottingham. The group was initiated by Dr Debbie Dickson (then International Chaplain) and Rev. Ian Tarrant (then Senior Anglican Chaplain), and was set up together with a few international Christian postgraduates - Alan Dennis (Ghana), Jennifer Mbabazi (Uganda) Dave Sinclair (Australia) and myself (Sri Lanka).
In 2002, I begand to talk with Debbie Dickson and Dr Nishan deMel (who was at Oxford at that time) about the possibility of a National Christian Postgraduate Conference. This led to the forming of a core committee consisting of the two chaplains - Ian and Debbie, a Nottingham academic – Dr Mike Clifford, an American postdoc – Dr Aaron Romanowsky, a Singaporean postgraduate - Chye Foong Yong, and myself. The Conference Vision statement (as well as its title) was drawn up after much deliberation by Dr Nishan deMel, Dr Debbie Dickson, and myself. The outcome was the first conference in June 2003, carrying the theme Transforming the Mind.