14 August 2023 Master’s Thesis Defense Anna Sijbinga

On 14 August 2023 Anna Sijbinga successfully defended her Master’s Thesis ‘Exploring the Conceptualization of Nature, Creation, and Earth on Websites of Dutch Christian Climate Active Groups’. She graduated cum laude from Tilburg University in the master’s degree program Christianity in Society of the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology. Prof. dr. Caroline Vander Stichele and dr. Deborah de Koning supervised the thesis process and dr. Frank Bosman assessed the final version of her thesis.

As part of the Master’s Thesis defense Anna first delivered a presentation. She started her presentation with showing the attendees the image of the burning bush and asked the question where God actually is in the climate crisis (figure 1). The image of the burning bush in front of the earth is part of a blog published on the website of the Dutch Christian Climate Group ‘Climate Stewards’. This is one of the six Dutch Christian Climate Active groups of which Anna analyzed the content of their websites. The other groups are A Rocha Nederland, Christian Climate Action Nederland, Groene Kerken, Laudato Si Alliantie, and Micha Nederland.

Anna employed three concepts – nature, creation, and earth – in her content-analyses of the websites to answer the question how the interpretations of the concepts of nature, creation, and earth among Dutch Christian Climate Active groups relate to the different ways in which these concepts are used in the Dutch ecotheological discourse as described by Van Montfoort. She explained how these concepts are evaluated by the Dutch theologian Trees van Montfoort in Groene Theologie (Green Theologie) and compared this with the analysis of the use of the concepts on websites of Dutch Christian Climate Groups. She concluded her presentation with some findings of her research: in general the ambiguity toward the concepts of nature, creation and earth that Van Montfoort discusses also appears in the use of the concepts on the websites. There are however shifts in emphasis of how the concepts are evaluated by Van Montfoort and how they are used on the websites. Examples of this are the absence of eschatological interpretations and the theological discussion of creation versus evolution, and a shared positive stance toward nature and a the personification of the earth.

Dr. Frank Bosman continued the defense by asking Anna to critically reflect on some of the ecotheological positions that she investigated and dr. Deborah de Koning posed several methodological questions about the relevance of ‘groups’.

Anna received her Master’s degree in the presence of family, friends, fellow students and the four members of the NWO research group ‘Religion and Climate Change’.

We contratulate Anna with her Masters’s degree!

Read the masterthesis here