Aden Cotterill

Honorary PhD Scholar

World Universities Ramsay Postgraduate Scholar


Aden Cotterill is a World Universities Ramsay Postgraduate Scholar, studying at Clare Hall, Cambridge, in the Faculty of Divinity. And, as of April 2024, is an Honorary PhD Scholar at the Woolf Institute.

Aden is from Australia, where he first completed a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) at the Australian National University, alongside a minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. Following graduation, Aden worked in both pastoral ministry in an Anglican church, as well as a Youth Support Worker in a low socioeconomic state school. Eventually, alongside this employment, Aden completed a Master of Arts (Theology) and Master of Theology (Research), before moving to Cambridge with his wife and two daughters to begin his PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Aden's thesis pursues a theological response to the concept of the nova effect, as articulated in Charles Taylor's A Secular Age, with special reference to the Czech theologian and priest Tomáš Halík, a former Visiting Fellow at the Woolf Institute. The "nova effect" refers to Taylor's suggestion that exploding religious and nonreligious plurality in Western contexts (nova) causes the "fragilization" of our beliefs (effect); new questions arise about our own taken-for-granted positions when we encounter the religious other in our midst. Halík is a distinctive interlocutor for this phenomenon, given he addresses both plurality and doubt in the single corpus, something relatively unique for a Christian theologian. Aden is interested in this topic for, ultimately, personal reasons, having his own fair share of fragilizing—and enriching— experiences of interfaith encounter in multicultural Australia.

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