A Sarum MA student is celebrating after a book she edited and contributed to won a prestigious American award.
Laura Beres, who is studying for an MA in Christian Spirituality, edited Practising Spirituality: Reflections on Meaning Making in Personal and Professional Contexts. This was recognised by Choice, the publishing arm of the Association of College and Research Libraries in the USA, as one of the ‘Outstanding Titles for 2017’.
Laura, who teaches social work to both undergraduate and graduate students, is currently working on her thesis, which looks at the conceptions of the soul of both Theresa of Avila and Edith Stein, and what these can contribute to narrative therapy. Narrative therapy is a form of psychotherapy that seeks to help people identify their values, and the skills and knowledge they have to live these values, so they can effectively confront whatever problems they face.
“This was a collection of essays from different authors that I edited”, says Laura, “with my own written contribution being one chapter as well as the introduction and conclusion.
“As it turns out, my chapter was a slight reworking of the first essay I wrote in the very first module I studied for in my MA at Sarum, about Benedictine spirituality.
“As a clinical social worker with a particular interest in psychotherapy and counselling with adults, I am interested in what Benedictine spirituality offers towards the making of a therapeutic space.
“There is an important balance in Benedictine spirituality between welcoming guests as if there were Christ Himself, and also asking prayerfully whether people are the right fit. Some members of the community look after the guest house, while others remove themselves. There is a balance between looking after others and looking after oneself.
“More than my own writing, however, I’m proud of the balanced range of contributors to the book, including people working in nursing, social work, occupational therapy, and teaching, from England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
“The review described the book as an ‘easy read’, which is exactly what I wanted: something that is absorbable and practically useful to students and practitioners.”
Laura was born in Salisbury and says studying at Sarum is like ‘coming home’.
“I had a sabbatical from work seven years ago”, she says explaining why she decided to study at Sarum, “and went to Lindisfarne and Iona to make a deeper exploration of Celtic spirituality.
“As a result, I audited the Celtic Spirituality model from the MA in Christian Spirituality at Sarum. I was so impressed by the depth and quality of teaching that I came back the next year to audit the Contemporary Spirituality module. I was then hooked!”
Academic studies aren’t, however, the only reason Laura chose to study at Sarum.
“There is so much I love here”, she continues, “Especially the way it almost feels like going on retreat when I come here for residentials. After a hard day’s study, when I go back to my room it feels like going into a Benedictine guest wing.
“The location in Salisbury Cathedral Close is unique, and it’s great to have shopping just outside the High Street Gate. Inside the College, too, there’s always someone interesting to chat to in the refectory – and the food is amazing!”
All postgraduate course modules at Sarum are open to everyone, so you may enrol on any MA module as an “auditor” without registering for an accredited programme such as the full MA. An auditor participates in a module in exactly the same way as students on the MA, but does not prepare an essay at the end of it. Find out more about auditing a module at Sarum here.
Thinking about studying for an MA? The best way to decide whether a study programme is right for you is to experience it first-hand. Sarum runs three taster days for its MA programme throughout the year. These offer sample teaching sessions from each of the four MA programmes, allow people to have informal discussions with programme leaders and tutors, and get a sense about what learning at Sarum College is all about. The taster days are absolutely free. Find out more about MA taster days at Sarum here.