Two new honorary doctors at the Faculty of Theology

27 October 2014

Uppsala University’s Faculty of Theology has named journalist Lisbeth Gustafsson and Professor Emerita Cheryl Exum of Sheffield University, UK, as new honorary doctors.

Lisbeth Gustafsson is a journalist, author, educator and moderator, specialising in dialogue and communication on issues relating to philosophy of life and values, and a trained pastor (or spiritual caretaker) and retreat leader. She has worked as a news journalist on Västerbottens Folkblad, the regional newspaper of Northern Sweden, and the TV news programmes Nordnytt and Aktuellt. She has been chief editor on religious, philosophical and existential topics at Sveriges Television (SVT), the Swedish public-service television company. From 2005 to 2010, she was the culture secretary at national level in the Church of Sweden, where her responsibilities included the Church’s annual ‘Behold the Human’ (Se människan) exhibition at the Gothenburg Book Fair (Bok & Biblioteksmässan).

From 2011 to the end of September 2014, Gustafsson was deputy director of Bilda, the Swedish study association. In 1985–86, she taught television journalism at what was then the Stockholm School of Journalism (now the Stockholm University Department of Journalism, Media and Communication), and a programme leader in the Sigtuna Foundation’s seminars on culture, theology and existential issues from 1986 to 1992. In the years 1992–2004 she worked as a producer and writer on philosophy-of-life issues, and trained journalists in writing on these subjects. She has held various courses and organised study trips for journalists to Jerusalem, in cooperation with organisations including Fojo Media Institute in Kalmar and the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem. Gustafsson has also written books focusing on leadership, dialogue and spiritual experience, including Sluta bråka! Dags för dialog i politiken (‘Stop Bickering! Time for Dialogue in Politics’, 2014) and Vad säger journalisterna? Om etik, makt och ansvar (‘What Do the Journalists Say? On Ethics, Power and Responsibility’, 2008).

Cheryl Exum, Professor Emerita of Biblical Studies at Sheffield University, is a prominent figure in feminist biblical research and has contributed much to the emergence of culturally oriented Bible studies. She took her PhD in 1976, with a thesis on rhetorical patterns in the story of Samson. She has also investigated how far the stories of Saul and David may be perceived as tragedies in a literary sense, and problematised the fragmented representation of women in the same texts. She was one of the first exegetes to take a serious interest in the Bible in the history of art and film, focusing on issues of violence, agency and sexuality. She has treated similar issues in her commentary, in terms of religious history, on the Song of Solomon).

Exum’s research works are characterised by an interdisciplinary approach and constant exchange with other disciplines in the humanities. Her habit of drawing attention to the shifting meanings of Bible texts in our contemporary culture, outside religious institutions, has become something of a trade mark. Besides extensive production of her own, partly as an editor of such journals as Biblical Interpretation and as a director of Sheffield Phoenix Press, Exum has put Sheffield on the map as a strong international research environment.