The unit engages learners in critical study of children’s spirituality and investigates the understandings and issues relating to refugee, war-affected children and those children not war-affected between the ages of 4 to 16. The “experiential mode” will focus on the work of David Hay and Rebecca Nye, Elaine Champagne and Brendan Hyde among others, and explore spiritual modes of “connectedness” and their relationship to prayer and the presence of altruistic behaviours in children. The nature of war-affected and refugee children’s spirituality will be examined, drawing on accounts of children from war zones and in diaspora. Separate case studies of war-affected children will be identified and guided by analysis of various methodologies. Critique of research methods best suited to the theological task will be examined through the lens of a “mutual critical correlation” method.

Unit code: DS9260C

Unit status: Archived (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Spirituality

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Critically study the nature of children’s spirituality and its elements within the “experiential mode.”


Analyse and evaluate children’s spiritual modes of expression in the light of war-affected and non-war-affected life experiences of children.


Synthesise and interpret children’s spiritual dispositions offering theological reflection through the method of mutual critical correlation.


Identify, examine and critique research methods best suited to the practical theological task.


Critically assess opportunities in ministry care where a broad understanding of children’s spirituality can assist in beneficial outcomes, for learning and teaching, children’s liturgy, or pastoral care.

Unit sequence

BS8600C and CT8600C


The pedagogical framework engages an inquiry-based learning approach which is underpinned by a constructivist learning model that is person-centered and acknowledges professional ministry experiences as an integral part of learning. A critical analysis and interpretation of children’s spirituality in relationship with children’s personal life experiences, will be explored through learnings contextualised in scaffolding activities such as collaborative learning, modelling, facilitation and problem solving. Students will be challenged and supported to develop deep levels of thinking and application through strategies monitoring and responding to their learning and social needs, and cultural perspectives. Assessment and evaluation will be guided by personal contextualised learnings.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Champagne, E. “Listening to … listening for …: A Theological Reflection on Spirituality in Early Childhood.” In Spiritual Education. Cultural, Religious and Social Differences: New Perspectives for the 21st Century,* edited by J. Erricker, C. Ota, and C. Erricker, 76–87. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2001.
  • Coles, R. The Spiritual Life of Children. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990.
  • Denov, Myriam, and Bree Akesson, eds. Children Affected by Armed Conflict: Theory, Method and Practice. New York: Columbia University Press: 2017.
  • Hay, D., and R. Nye. The Spirit of the Child. Rev. ed. London: Harper Collins, 2006.
  • Hyde, B. Children and Spirituality: Searching for Meaning and Connectedness. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2008.
  • Machel, G. The Impact of War on Children. London: Hurst and Company, 2001.
  • Swinton, John, and Harriet Mowat. Practical Theology and Qualitative Research. London: SCM Press 2006.
  • van Manen, M. Researching lived Experience: Human Science for an Action Sensitive Pedagogy. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge, 2017.
  • Watters, Charles. Refugee Children: Towards the Next Horizon. London: Routledge, 2008.
  • Denzin, N.K. & Y.S. Lincoln. Handbook of Qualitative Research, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2000.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay 4,000 words

4000 60.0

Essay 1,500 words

1500 20.0

Essay 1,500 words

1500 20.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 20 Jul, 2018

Unit record last updated: 2023-06-13 17:03:49 +1000