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Education

New volume explores religious experiences

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screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-11-44-35RELIGIOUS and spiritual experiences are very common but difficult to study, so academics at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts have published a book that addresses the problem and shows how to approach the topic from different disciplines.

The edited volume:

‘The Study of Religious Experience: Approaches and Methodologies’ presents an overview of approaches and methods to the study of religious and spiritual experiences, with a range of chapters written by scholars from different disciplines including anthropology, philosophy, religious studies, theology, and biblical studies.

It has been edited by Bettina Schmidt, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

The book takes the work of Sir Alister Hardy – recipient of the Templeton Prize in 1985 for his work on religious experience – forward, by showing how to study religious and spiritual experiences in the 21st century. The aim of the book is to show how a range of disciplines including anthropology, philosophy, religious studies, theology, biblical studies and history approach the topic of religious experience, what their contributions are to the study of religious experience are and how that approach can be applied.

Sir Alister Hardy, a renowned scientist, approached the complex field of religious and spiritual experience from a similar disciplined and scientific manner in which he approach natural science. Asking people from the public to send him accounts of first-hand experiences with spiritual or religious powers, he established the Religious Experience Research Centre that has been since then at the forefront of the academic study of religious experiences. This book takes his work forward and shows how to study religious and spiritual experiences in the 21st century.

Each chapter in the book presents a different approach, with each author providing insights into the field with an original empirical case study and details about a specific method to study religious experiences.

The Study of Religious Experience: Approaches and Methodologies is linked to the Religious Experience Research Centre which is located on the Lampeter campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The Director of RERC, Professor Bettina Schmidt, organised a conference in 2014 on the study of religious experience and the revised papers of the conference are included in the book, as well as further contributions from international scholars.

“Religious experience is a fascinating but also difficult research area,” says the volume’s editor, Professor Bettina Schmidt.

“It looks at internal experiences that cannot be scientifically proven but, as we show in this book, scientifically studied. This book presents a range of academic approaches to the study of religious and spiritual experience, from quantitative and qualitative perspectives within anthropology, hermeneutical approaches in Biblical studies, theology and philosophy, to the use of cyberspace and the own body during fieldwork. Together they demonstrate the richness of the field of religious and spiritual experience,” continues Professor Schmidt.

Among the contributors are several members of the University’s Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts, such as Dr Catrin Williams, Dr Gary Bunt, Dr Robert Pope, Dr Fiona Bowie and Dr Tristan Nash. Also involved are Dr Emily Pierini and Dr Gregory Shushan who are both honorary research fellows of UWTSD. The book presents the first joint publication of the research cluster Spirituality, Well-being and Health of the Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts.

Professor Peggy Morgan at Oxford University says that the book is ‘a rich and welcome addition to the literature which has something for anyone with a serious interest in this area of investigation’.

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Education

New specialist pre-school to open in county of Pembrokeshire

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with Portfield Special School to develop an Early Years Pre-school at Pennar for children with additional learning and complex medical needs between the ages of two and five.

The provision, which will be registered as Portfield Pre-School Pennar, will open in September, and will provide play and childcare opportunities for early years children.

The Council is currently working with parents of children who previously attended SNAP playgroup to communicate these changes. 

Portfield School will manage the playgroup ensuring specialist ALN (additional learning needs) expertise and access to additional professional support is retained. 

“We are very pleased to be able to say that several of the staff from the SNAP specialist playgroup have agreed to work with us in this partnership, so current users of SNAP will see plenty of familiar faces,” said Cllr Guy Woodham, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Damian Hewitt, Headteacher of Portfield, said: “We are delighted to be part of this initiative which will provide a smooth transition into statutory education for our most vulnerable learners whilst providing early intervention and support to assist those where mainstream school may be a more suitable and inclusive option. 

“It is our intention to work with Pembrokeshire County Council to grow the service with Portfield acting as a central support hub as we work with other settings across the County.”

He went on to say: “Portfield is a county-wide resource and our vision is to work with the Council and Early Years settings to develop this model further with other satellite sites opening in the future.”  

Cllr Woodham said the partnership intends to increase the reach and accessibility of specialist support across the county. 

“Having the Early Years relationship with Portfield will give parents the reassurance that their children’s needs will be fully supported either in a specialist environment or with outreach support in their own locality,” he said.

“The opening of the pre-school in Pennar will provide the continuity of setting and staff which is so important for the learners.”

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Pictured is Headteacher of Portfield Damian Hewitt with pupils

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Education

Become a wild world hero with summer reading challenge

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CHILDREN are being encouraged to become a Wild World Hero at their local library this summer.

From Saturday 10th July, children aged 4 to 11, can register to take part in the Reading Agency’s popular annual ‘Summer Reading Challenge’. 

Teaming up with WWF, this year’s theme is Wild World Heroes.  The aim is to inspire children to learn all about the natural environment and discover ways to help save the planet. 

The Challenge reaches over 700,000 children across the UK each year. 

The Reading Agency is aiming to increase its impact even further this year by reaching 1million children with its new English and Welsh language websites providing fun reading activities for all children.

Children can join the fun for free either online or by visiting a library in person.

The Challenge is to read six books over the summer holidays and the children will receive incentives along the way to encourage them to complete the challenge. 

Tanya Steele, CEO, WWF, said: “Young people are the future – and they are some of the most passionate and enthusiastic advocates for our natural world. I’m continuously inspired by our young supporters at WWF and their efforts to speak up for nature, often in wonderful and creative ways.

“We are delighted to be partners of the Summer Reading Challenge in this milestone year for environmental action.

We hope it will encourage more children across the UK to get reading, and to take positive action for the planet – our one shared home.”

Laura Evans, Library Development Officer for Pembrokeshire Libraries, said: “After such a difficult year I am so pleased to be able to offer an opportunity for the children of Pembrokeshire to have some fun over the summer.

“Although we can’t offer activities in our libraries due to ongoing restrictions, we will be giving out activity packs for the children taking part to take home.  Also look out for ideas for things to do during the holidays on the libraries Facebook page”.

Information about this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is available from:

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Education

Haverfordwest High announces their Senior Prefect Team for 2021-22

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Senior Prefect Team with Head Teacher Mrs Harries and the Education Director Mr Richard Downes

HAVERFORDWEST HIGH have this week announced their Senior Prefect Team for the 2021 – 2022 school year.

In order to gain their positions, the students went through a number of interviews, video campaigns and voting processes.

A spokesperson from the school said: “At HHVCS it gives us great pleasure to announce our Senior Prefect Team of 2021-2022 consists of the following remarkable students:

“Head Prefects are Anna Long and Isla Davies

“Deputy Head Prefects are: Caitlyn Aaran, Ioan Jones-Hughes and Will Lewis

“Senior Prefects: Beti Price, Jasmin Tjoonk and Jerin Joy 

“They were joined on Wednesday by Head Teacher Mrs Harries and the Education Director Mr Richard-Downes.

“They are an outstanding team of pupils who have already been hard at work on their first day on the job.

“The pupils went through 4 interviews, a marketing campaign video and a pupil and staff vote to achieve their positions. A huge accolade indeed.”

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