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Practical theology is inherently interdisciplinary. However, this interdisciplinarity is most often engaged through the intellectual work of a single person. In our work on “neighbor love,” the fields of social-cognitive psychology and practical theology have been brought together through the collaborative work of two scholars to better understand the dynamics of dehumanization, the opposite of neighbor love. Our work together has proved challenging and yet deeply rewarding as we have come to insights together that we never could have alone. In this article, we identify the specific places of tension within our project, highlight the insights that were made possible through our interdisciplinary collaboration, and propose a way forward that builds on methodological reflections from a similar, but failed partnership. Katherine M. Douglass is associate professor of educational ministry and practical theology. Brittany M. Tausen is associate pofessor of psychology and director of undergraduate research. Both are at Seattle Pacific University.


How do we actually conduct integrative research between fields and why is it worthwhile, despite the challenges? This question is deceptively simple. However, anyone who has attempted to work across fields is aware of the myriad of challenges and has likely found themselves (at least occasionally) questioning the value of the additional effort and time necessary to complete this work. This article will begin by exposing what we believe are some of the critical roadblocks to rich interdisciplinary work as well as the benefits gained when such collaborations are sustained over time. After this, we will tell the story of our partnership—a partnership between two Christian scholars, one a practical theologian and one a social cognitive psychologist, interested in the topic of how to help people love one another across difference. Next, we will explain some of the tensions we have faced within our work together. Finally, we will reflect on the insights proposed by educational scholar Jackie Ravet and child psychiatrist Justin H. G. Williams, who have published an analysis of the challenges in their transdisciplinary work, which offers a helpful framework for understanding our own work.

While many of the insights in this paper are likely applicable to the collaboration between any two scholars, they may be most useful for collaborations between scientists and theologians. The relationship between science and theology has been widely discussed at a theoretical level and is championed by large funding initiatives, yet the details of how to actually conduct this type of interdisciplinary research, interpret findings, and publish have received less attention. When conceptually related projects have been written about in specificity, they seem to come to inconclusive suggestions for meaningful collaboration into the future—one article on the topic of interdisciplinary research ended by dissolving the collaboration due to insurmountable obstacles related to epistemology and methodology.1 Unlike this dissolved partnership, ours started small, with no funding, and has grown each year. We hope that sharing our insights will encourage others to pursue interdisciplinary work and possibly even provoke institutions to restructure themselves to better facilitate these pursuits.2

Overcoming the Divide

Our interdisciplinary work brings together the fields of social-cognitive psychology and practical theology, two wildly different, yet practically oriented fields. The challenges we faced began with relatively simple things like how we were using the language of experiment, research, and study. While we had significant overlap, there were moments when we needed to pause and define things for one another or explain why our definitions differed as a function of our training and the assumptions of our fields. One example of this regarded our operative definitions of humanity. Psychology tends to offer a definition of difference: what makes a human different from (unlike) a machine or any other animal, for example. Theology, however, tends to offer a definition based on likeness: a human is someone made in the image of God. Anyone who has attempted to discuss ideas across disciplines has likely had conversations like these—“When you say human, tell me what you mean by human as defined by your field?” Coming to shared definitions, may indeed be the most challenging aspect of interdisciplinary work, but at every stage of the research process, our challenges extended beyond definitions. As we will show, they included not only our conflicting interpretations of our findings, but the challenge of working together within institutions and publishing our work. Despite these challenges, we believe that our work came to more significant insights because of our collaboration and that it was also more fulfilling than working independently.

In many respects, psychology has embraced theology, religion, and spirituality, acknowledging that they are core aspects of the human experience that are important to understand and often contribute to well-being. This is evidenced empirically (e.g., studies about prayer, religiosity, perceptions of God) and structurally (e.g., journals dedicated to the intersection of psychology and theology). The overlap, however, tends to remain at a surface level approach as psychological science often ignores or even aims to directly discount the scholarship of theologians in ways that limit the value and applicability of the research itself. In attempts to operationalize deeply complex constructs, psychologists run the risk of oversimplifying (at best) or completely obscuring (at worst) the essence of theological concepts. Perhaps one of the most well-known examples of this is a large-scale study of intercessory prayer.3 In operationalizing effective intercessory prayer, the researchers stripped prayer down to little more than the concept of a genie in a bottle granting wishes of health upon request. Engaging theological work on prayer, as well as theologians who study it, could have helped refine the operationalization to a truer understanding of the value of prayer.4 When trying to make claims about the utility of deeply theological concepts, it is critical that theologians have a seat at the research table. Additionally, the prayer study illustrates that psychology (and science in general) runs the risk of becoming myopically outcome-focused (e.g., only praying if it results in your desired outcome). Theology can enrich the conversation by attending to outcomes that cannot be satisfactorily measured and by offering moral imperatives that run deeper than any single outcome or result. Finally, it is worth noting that interdisciplinary scholarship with theologians can bridge the gap between theory and practice either by enhancing trust in science, or by offering a more direct dissemination to communities of faith. Indeed, our own interdisciplinary research afforded an opportunity to grapple with the depth of our definitions of humanity, debate the value of the ends versus the means, and engage young adults in spiritual formation practices.

Since the modernization of the university in the 17th and 18th centuries, theology has had to defend and justify its presence in high education. This has taken various forms, often arguing that it is scientific, paralleling epistemological logics present in philosophy. Some fields, such as Biblical studies, find easy parallels in “secular” studies like linguistics. The field of practical theology traces its roots to applied theology—the application of theological insights for those in ministry. Similar to the way medical doctors “apply” research from medical research, so too do pastors “apply” the findings of theology. Over time, however, much like other fields of action research (for example, those who study the practice of medicine), practical theology developed to study empirically the lived theology of individuals and communities. Unlike other theological research, practical theology includes explicit engagement with fields of research outside of theology to interpret the lived theology of those individuals and communities that we study. Psychology, sociology, neuroscience, and educational philosophy are all natural partners in this interdisciplinary work. With such broad reaching dialogue partners and using both qualitative and quantitative tools for research, there are sometimes methodological inconsistencies in how practical theologians are trained to collect empirical data. By working across disciplines, the bar is raised for practical theologians who must ensure that their work meets the standards of an internal review board, National Institute of Health standards for ethical research with human subjects, and the partner field in general.

Most recently, there is a movement within the larger umbrella of theology to engage science, not from a historical or philosophical perspective, but to come together around “wicked problems” or questions whose answers might be richer when tools from a multiplicity of fields are utilized. To do exactly this, John Perry at the University of St. Andrews and Johanna Leidenhag at Leeds University led a recent initiative funded by the John Templeton Foundation called, “New Visions in Theological Anthropology” to bring scientists and theologians together in what they called “science-engaged theology”. While practical theology has a natural inclination to partner across disciplines, this interdisciplinarity is often done by individuals and less frequently through partnerships. If language acquisition is used as a metaphor, we believe that it is best to have two native speakers, coming from different language worlds, working together, constantly needing to make themselves understood, that produces the most rigorous and meaningful studies that ultimately have an impact far beyond the scope of either discipline because of the translation demanded at every step of the partnership.

The Story of Our Work Together: Collaboration on Neighbor Love

We began our work together after we realized that both of us were interested in the impact that Tent City 3, a mobile, government sanctioned, homeless encampment hosted at Seattle Pacific University, was having on the college students on our campus.5 Social-cognitive psychologist Brittany M. Tausen administered surveys to a random sample of SPU students at two time points, before and after Tent City 3 resided on campus. The surveys measured perceptions of individuals experiencing homelessness as well as the frequency and quality of interactions to assess changes in dehumanization as a function of the intergroup contact that occurred organically between students and individuals experiencing homelessness residing on our campus.6 At the same time, practical theologian Katherine M. Douglass had her forty students take a tour led by the democratically elected leader of the Tent City 3 encampment and reflect on their experience. Both were invested in better understanding the potential for student interactions with Tent City 3 residents to create opportunities to witness the humanity and imago Dei of those who are currently without shelter—a shared interest that fueled a collaboration the following quarter when Tent City 3 was no longer on campus.

We began our collaboration to better understand how another type of intergroup contact—a shared meal—impacted our students’ perceptions of their unhoused neighbors. Douglass selected a shared meal because it would reflect meaningful aspects of the experience her students had touring Tent City 3, could be easily integrated into a class assignment, and resonated with theological themes of breaking bread together. Additionally, Tausen was excited about the potential to have a clean control condition and to assign students to an intergroup interaction that eliminated power dynamics and had met many of the criteria deemed important by the contact hypothesis. Given our respective areas of expertise, we utilized a mixed methods approach to assess both quantitative and qualitative insights that arose from the shared meal experience (relative to a no-meal control condition). The details of this experiment and our findings appear in a manuscript recently published in The Journal of Psychology and Theology.7 Notwithstanding the value of this work, it does not provide a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the convoluted (and sometimes challenging) process of collaborating across disciplines. In the current essay, we aim to pull back the curtain in hopes that others can learn from and be encouraged by our experiences undertaking interdisciplinary collaborations.

A shared friendship and interest in interactions between students and unhoused folks fueled our initial collaboration. For us, setting up the initial experiment and collecting data was relatively straightforward and uneventful. This ease was likely because, in many ways, we stayed in our own lanes. Douglass took the lead on the qualitative portion and Tausen took the lead on the quantitative portion. We also built off a foundation of what was already happening in Douglass’s class (students being required to write a reflection after attending a free meal with unhoused individuals at a local church) and how it already resonated with social psychological research on the types of intergroup contact that alleviate bias. Adding a quantitative component and a control condition did not feel threatening as we shared the same hypothesis—the dinner would meaningfully reduce the dehumanization of individuals experiencing homelessness. Additionally, because we had both worked with quantitative and qualitative data and were invested in practices that reliably develop neighbor love, we saw the value in an interdisciplinary and mixed-methods approach.

After collecting the qualitative and quantitative data and comparing findings, however, things started to get a bit trickier. We could not agree on how to interpret the impact of the dinner on perceptions of individuals experiencing homelessness. Had our findings cleanly reinforced one another, this likely would not have been the case. But, as data often is, ours was messy. Douglass interpreted the qualitative findings as showing that the dinner had a transformative impact on the theological anthropology of students (thematic codes focused on transformative learning coming out of educational psychologists Jack Mezirow and L. S. Vygotsky, as well as theological themes).8 Tausen acknowledged the value of the qualitative data but interpreted it as showing a meaningful learning experience rather than a clear reduction in dehumanizing perceptions. With extended conversations, we realized that our conflict arose from nuances in the outcome variables we were measuring as well as the valued weighting and approach to different types of data.

Tausen interpreted the quantitative findings from the pre- and post-survey as showing that attending the dinner did not result in less dehumanization of individuals experiencing homelessness relative to the no-dinner control condition. Notably, the quantitative findings demonstrated that students in all classes— control and experimental—showed a measurable decrease in their tendencies to dehumanize individuals experiencing homelessness over the course of the quarter. While we cannot rule out time as a reason for decreases in dehumanization, we can speculate that the content of the class was the mechanism that brought about this change (class themes include identity, vocation, and reconciliation).9 Douglass affirmed the trend of students dehumanizing less over the course of the class, but wondered if the dinner was having a greater impact than was evident in the quantitative findings, mainly based on the strong claims made by the students in their reflection papers. Students consistently wrote things like, “These types of conversations are the type that totally changes my lens on the world and on human connection in general. Forming these connections and sharing this sort of grace not only brings me closer to God but also provides an understanding of our need for connection and belonging.”

Tausen remained skeptical that students might simply be saying what they thought their professors wanted to hear or that the insights were limited in time and scope—factors that could not be addressed by the qualitative results. Because we were not clear as to the relationship between our findings, we agreed to publish the initial qualitative findings separately.10

This could have been the end of our collaborative efforts, but as teachers, scholars, and friends, we continued to grapple with questions about the value of the dinner assignment: What role (if any) did the dinner play in disrupting dehumanization? Should Douglass keep the dinner in the class if it has no measurable effect on dehumanization according to the survey? What do the null quantitative findings mean for decades of social psychological research on the contact hypothesis? Is the dinner simply an extra event that provides a teaching moment that feels profound to students, but does not change group-level perceptions or at least not in a way that lasts (until the end of the class when they take the second survey)? Do students report in writing things that are not measurable in a survey?

We wanted to pursue these questions further and applied to participate in a fellowship through the University of St. Andrews promoting “science-engaged theology.” With additional research funds from the New Visions in Theological Anthropology program at St. Andrews, we were able to reanalyze the reflection papers, coding this time for human nature and human uniqueness traits (the categories used in our survey to measure dehumanization) instead of the transformative learning categories from educational psychology that were originally used to code the reflection papers.11 Once we were speaking a similar language in terms of what we were measuring, we were more readily able to find concise points of resonance and dissonance. As we interpreted the findings, it became clear that even with a consistent framework the quantitative and qualitative methods were assessing two different things: human perceptions of a single individual experiencing homelessness (the reflection paper) and human perceptions of individuals experiencing homelessness as a group (the survey). One might interpret this latter finding as more significant and lasting, and yet, even with this finding, as we talked, we both agreed that if we asked students what they remembered about the class in ten years, we would likely hear about their experience of the dinner and not a lecture.

Methodological Challenges and Possibilities of Interdisciplinary Work

In his epilogue, to Practical Theology: An Introduction, Richard Osmer discusses the post-modern reality of cross-disciplinary research and the vibrancy displayed in “rational dissensus,” as opposed to consensus. He writes,

well-reasoned disagreement across different perspectives—are viewed as signs of strength and vitality in a field, not universality and consensus. . . . Fields like literature, ethics, and anthropology view themselves as dealing with subjects and problems that are not amenable to cumulative advances or resolutions. They deal with issues that are context-specific, on the one hand, and perennial, on the other.12

Our research on neighbor love and dehumanization (a perennial issue), on the campus of Seattle Pacific University, between students and those experiencing homelessness (context-specific)—as well as our “well-reasoned disagreement across different perspectives”—fits this description perfectly.

The science-engaged theology project at the University of St. Andrews challenged researchers to come together around a “theological puzzle” or a question that could potentially be answered by either field, and might even be enriched through collaboration.13 Our research question for this project was, “Can the tools of social-cognitive psychology inform spiritual formation practices?”14 If we accept the quantitative findings as legitimate, then our findings are informative for spiritual formation practice by suggesting that a single instance of table fellowship does not meaningfully reduce the extent to which college students dehumanize those experiencing homelessness at the group-level. This interpretation then begs follow up questions for refining Christian practices. Is it the goal of a Christian practice to reduce the dehumanization of an entire group, or might the goal be specific to seeing the image of God in one individual? If the former, what type of changes could be made to the fellowship opportunity to amplify the impact of the dinner?15 If the latter, is it important to compare table fellowship to other practices that might have similar effects or is it sufficient to know that learning one person’s story over dinner brings to light aspects of their humanity that could not have been known without some form of interaction?

Despite the lack of impact on group-level perceptions, student reflection papers claimed that the interaction between them and someone experiencing homelessness was humanizing. For those practicing the Christian faith who read passages like Matthew 25:40, “when you did it to the least of these, you did it to me,” this is quite the record scratch. Do our attempts to love our neighbor by spending time eating with them actually change us and make us more loving? The answer from our research is, “Well, yes, these interactions allow us to see aspects of a previously unknown individual’s humanity. But, if you want to love the groups with whom they identify, more than one shared encounter is likely necessary.” While these interpretive tensions existed, they were not insurmountable and with extended attention (and funding) we were able to understand our findings more deeply and thus our contributions to both the fields of social psychology and practical theology. Challenges related to our funding and reporting, however, were not as easily resolved.

Osmer discusses how the “shell” of the academy remains—distinct fields acting as silos—while the nature of our cross-disciplinary work has changed.16 It is here that we have run into further tensions and structural barriers. Interdisciplinary research is celebrated at our school—we were encouraged to team teach cross-disciplinary courses in the core curriculum. The three-credit course we designed and taught, “Neighbor Love: Psychological and Theological Perspectives,” could not be equally allocated across our respective teaching loads and was thus distributed unevenly between us. For the University of St. Andrews grant which encouraged collaboration, the stipend was not designated as £3,000 for each person, but was split between us, whereas scholars working alone on interdisciplinary projects were awarded the full £3,000. This trend was present through every stage. Even journals that encourage submissions at the intersection of theology and psychology tend to require reporting in one format (either psychology or theology) and often have reviewers with expertise in (and potentially preference for) only one field or approach. Finding outlets that are truly amenable to cross-disciplinary collaborations is thus another notable challenge for scholars. A related consideration for those in the academy is how interdisciplinary scholarship will be valued within their institutions especially as they work towards tenure or other forms of advancement. Scholarship standards in different departments may be dismissive of work that is disseminated outside of traditional field-specific journals and conferences in a way that disproportionately harms those engaging in interdisciplinary work. The way of the post-modern future of the academy seems to be inter-/trans-/cross-disciplinary and yet the structures that we work within (granting agencies, schools, and journals) are not set up to support this work in a sustained way because of their modernist structures that silo disciplines.17

Notwithstanding these challenges, it is worth reiterating the value of interdisciplinary work. We hope that others will see that such collaborations can increase the depth and breadth of scholarship. We also believe it is important to note that we benefited as individuals from this collaboration. Wrestling with difficult questions alongside a scholar and friend was personally rewarding and helped to make what can, at times, feel like a lonely job a lot less lonely. We were also able to encourage and motivate one another through the research and dissemination process. Especially at small private teaching institutions, like ours, mutually beneficial collaborations can be difficult to establish and maintain. Small department sizes mean relatively few (if any) scholars with directly overlapping training and interests. Opportunities to collaborate with folks at other institutions can also be limited as there is little funding support to attend conferences and our teaching loads (33 credits a year) mean that scholarship cannot always happen at the pace of our colleagues at R1 institutions. For these reasons, it seems that small teaching colleges are an incredibly fertile ground for rich interdisciplinary work. This may be particularly true at Christian institutions where colleagues are deeply rooted in their faiths and have some clear investment in similar topics (e.g., neighbor love and spiritual formation) despite wildly different academic training.

Analyzing our Methods from the Perspective of a Transdisciplinary “Troubled Alliance”

In their work on autism and education, Jackie Ravet and Justin H. G. Williams sought to bring together the fields of neuroscience and educational research to understand better interventions for learners with autism. Given that bridging the theory-practice gap was their goal, their approach was to engage in transdisciplinary work (creating a new field through the merging of two fields: neuroscience + educational research = neuroeducation) rather than interdisciplinary work (two fields collaborating). Education scholar Boba Samuels defines transdisciplinarity as,

an approach to examining and solving complex problems through the collaborative efforts of multiple diverse partners. It recognizes that knowledge is inherently something that is constituted at the level of the group and the activity rather than each individual participant. What connects transdisciplinary participants is not a common theoretical perspective or methodology or epistemology, but a common issue to which all apply their own particular expertise with the goal of reaching a holistic understanding of the issue.18

While we have chosen the term “interdisciplinary” to describe our work, we have approached “a common issue” in the same manner as Ravet and Williams’ transdisciplinary work on learning and autism. Our fields use different methods to conduct research and have different epistemic authorities, Scripture being perhaps the most significant of these. Even so, we were able to come together around a common issue or puzzle—the belief that a person should love their neighbor and that doing so requires them to perceive their neighbor in a loving, not dehumanizing, way. Ravet and Williams found their project to be “a troubled alliance” for a variety of reasons and we have found their reflections to help us understand the challenges we faced when working together across disciplines.

Ravet and Wiliams discuss a missed opportunity to “swap hats.” In their project, this would have entailed inviting the neuroscientist to sit in on the class and having the educational specialist present for the neurological testing. For our project, might have inviting Tausen to eat at the dinner and attend the class shaped the way she interpreted student reflection papers?19

Could Douglass have “swapped hats” by taking courses or doing additional learning in psychology? Throughout our project Tausen has, in fact, been working on a certificate in theology through Seattle Pacific Seminary’s Theological Integration Fellowship program. Together, we have attended seminars and lectures on science-engaged theology. This learning has proven immensely helpful as we have sought to occupy the linguistic and epistemic worlds of one another, attempting to explain to others engaged in interdisciplinary work the nature of our project (and our challenges). Ravet and Williams claim that learning across disciplines cultivates a “deep knowledge-building community” and we have found this to be true as well, as we have hired undergraduate and graduate research assistants to work on this project with us.20

In Ravet and Williams’ project, one conflict that arose was that one took a “medical model” approaching autism as a “disorder,’ while the other drew on a social model of autism, looking at relationships between people, and categorized it as a “condition.” When reporting their data, the qualitative interviews with teachers and parents, which focused on relationships, were ultimately thrown out because the clinical focus used a quantitative measure that assessed only the individual. We ran into a similar conflict, having both quantitative and qualitative data that, upon closer analysis, seemed to be reporting on different things. In our first round of analysis, the reflection papers were coded for transformative learning experiences and theological insight, whereas the survey was set up to measure dehumanization. In our second round of coding the reflection papers, we used the definitions of dehumanization as codes. With this additional work, we were able to ensure that we were using the same lens to view both sets of data. The additional funding was what made this additional analysis possible. Once we were looking at the same categories, using different tools, we could make claims about what we were seeing rather than simply throwing one set of data out as Ravet and Williams did.

In a vulnerable and poignant comment, Ravet and Williams write, “It seems to us, now, that mutuality and trust require safety within the partnership that can only be established by working through disagreements that inevitably occur during the course of a long-term joint research commitment. This calls for interrelational openness and honesty, and much trial and error. This process is far ‘messier’ than the idealized theoretical models set out in the neuroeducation literature.”21 In our project we have had the benefit of being colleagues and friends before embarking on this shared research project. In almost every meeting at some point one of us has said, “What do you mean by ‘experiment?’” or “I think we are using the term methodology in different ways” or “I don’t think these findings are significant” or (very awkwardly) “do you want to get one credit for teaching this course, or should I?” Without the mutuality and trust of our prior relationship, and working through many challenges, it would be difficult to avoid feeling insulted by these comments and wanting to give up on the project. Without shared faith in Jesus Christ and a similar view of the authority of Scripture, we would also find ourselves in a challenging predicament related to the relationship of theology to psychology.

Final Reflections

Ultimately, we believe we have learned more through our interdisciplinary research than we would have separately. Our commitment to working together meant that we were not willing to throw out findings and dissolve our partnership, but rather we wanted to invite more people into our collaboration and explore new questions. One manifestation of this was to lead a team of undergraduate and graduate research students to ask, can a theology of mutuality inform the types of interactions that are most humanizing? To this end, we are currently designing a quantitative measure of mutuality and probing which aspects of seeing, hearing, serving, and delighting are most closely associated with humanizing perceptions. In this work, our research students experience many of the same tensions we experience and are also forced to wrestle with the tensions related to the authority with which we give texts, documents, and research.

While our institution has not changed significantly, we will continue to champion the value of an interdisciplinary approach in our teaching and scholarship. We believe interdisciplinary projects can address some of the most fundamental challenges that communities face. In this project, we were able to ask together: How do we actually set up experiences where people across social groups dehumanize one another less, and start to love one another more? This is a challenge that is faced by Christians who believe they are called to love their neighbor. But even beyond Christians, this is a challenge faced by anyone in society who wants to disrupt dehumanization.

Cite this article
Katherine M. Douglass and Brittany M. Tausen, “We Belong Together: The Challenges and Possibilities of Interdisciplinary Research”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 53:1 , 67-78


  1. Jackie Ravet and Justin H. G. Williams, “What We Know Now: Education, Neuroscience and Transdisciplinary Autism Research,” Journal of Educational Research 59, no. 1 (2017): 1–16. See also J. Wentzel Van Huyssteen, Duet or Duel? Theology and Science in a Postmodern World (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity International Press, 1998); David Myers, “A Levels-of-Explanation View,” in Psychology and Christianity: Five Views. 2nd ed., eds. Eric L. Johnson and David G. Myers (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010) 44-78; Richard Osmer, Practical Theology: An Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008).
  2. Thankfully, we have had the opportunity to engage in conversations with Drs. Leon Van Ommen and Kate Uwin, another interdisciplinary research pair representing both practical theology and cognitive psychology, respectively, who have faced similar challenges.
  3. Herbert Benson, Jeffery A. Dusek, Jane B. Sherwood, Peter Lam, Charles F. Bethea, William Carpenter, Sidney Levitsky et al., “Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in Cardiac Bypass Patients: A Multicenter Randomized Trial of Uncertainty and Certainty of Receiving Intercessory Prayer,” American Heart Journal 151, no. 4 (2006): 934–942.
  4. See David C. Myers, “Why People of Faith Can Predict Null Effects in the Harvard Prayer Experiment,” (unpublished manuscript, May 28, 1997), uploads/prayer-letter.pdf.
  5. Kirk Johnson, “A Homeless Encampment in Our Back Yard? Please, a University Says,” New York Times, February 27, 2018, homeless-camp-seattle.html.
  6. Brittany M. Tausen, Mary Charleson, and Lea Fingerhut, “Proximity with Limited Humanity: How Hosting a Tent City Impacted College Students’ Perceptions of Individuals Experiencing Homelessness,” Journal of Community Psychology 49, no. 7 (2021): 2853–2873.
  7. Brittany M. Tausen, Katherine M. Douglass, Rebecca Hodges, Bella Rivera and Caitlin Thomas, “Dining against Dehumanization: A Mixed-Methods and Interdisciplinary Approach to Assessing the Humanizing Effects of Sharing a Meal with Individuals Experiencing Homelessness.” Journal of Psychology and Theology, October 28, 2022, https://
  8. Katherine M. Douglass, Lucy Israel, Laura Shigeta, and Kate Underwood, “Human Just Like Me: Disrupting Dehumanization through Disorienting Dilemmas” (unpublished manuscript).
  9. Tausen et al., “Proximity with Limited Humanity.”
  10. Douglass et al., “Human Just Like Me.”
  11. This project was funded as a theological puzzle through the New Visions in Theological Anthropology project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation and housed at the University of St. Andrews. See Brittany Tausen and Katherine Douglass, “Can the Tools of Social-Cognitive Psychology Inform Spiritual Formation Practices?,” Theological Puzzles, no. 4 (October 21, 2021),
  12. Osmer, Practical Theology, 237.
  13. See “New Visions in Theological Anthropology,” University of St. Andrews, 2023,
  14. Tausen and Douglass, “Can the Tools of Social-Cognitive Psychology Inform Spiritual Formation Practices?”
  15. For discussion of this question, see Tausen et al., “Dining against Dehumanization.”
  16. Osmer, Practical Theology, 234; See Anthony Giddens, Runaway World: How Globalization is Shaping Our Lives (New York, NY: Routledge, 1999), 18–19.
  17. Osmer, Practical Theology, 240.
  18. Boba M. Samuels, “Can the Differences between Education and Neuroscience be Overcome by Mind, Brain and Education?” Mind, Brain, and Education 3, no. 1 (2009): 45–55.
  19. See Ravet and Wiliams, “What We Know Now,” 10.
  20. Ravet and Williams, “What We Know Now,” 10.
  21. Ravet and Williams, “What We Know Now,” 12.

Katherine M. Douglass

Katherine M. Douglass is associate professor of educational ministry and practical theology.

Brittany M. Tausen

Brittany M. Tausen is associate professor of psychology and director of undergraduate research. Both are at Seattle Pacific University.