During June John Flett is headed to Germany to deliver his “Habilitationsvortrag.”
An Habilitation is a doctoral degree undertaken after the completion of a doctoral degree. It is the path by which one becomes a professor within the German system because upon completing the degree one receives the venia legendi, a Latin phrase meaning “permission for lecturing.” But such permission is given only for a named field.
“So I would be qualified to teach in the fields of intercultural theology, missiology, and ecumenical studies, but not ethics or systematic theology,” John said.
“If I wanted to teach the latter, I would need to complete a second Habilitation in that field.”
A Habilitation consists first of an “Habilitationsschrift,” an unsupervised book-length writing project on a subject sufficiently distant from one’s PhD dissertation. Should this text be considered of sufficient standard after examination, the Habilitant (John) is asked to submit three lecture topics, from which one will be chosen for the Habilitationsvortrag.
“So, the oral examination does not test the thesis contained in the Habilitationsschrift, but whether you can speak with authority across a range of subjects within the field,” John added.
“My three proposed lecture topics are: contextualisation and human rights theory; mission as social and political reconciliation; and mission and ecology.”
After the lecture comes a period of questioning and the issuing of a final judgment. Should one be recognised as suitable, it is necessary to later deliver a public lecture as a type of formal acknowledgment.
John’s colleagues at the Pilgrim Theological College and the Centre for Theology & Ministry wish him all the best in Germany.