Joanna Leidenhag

PhD Cohort 2019

HEI: University of Edinburgh

Funding: AHRC DTP

Project Title: Mind Matters: Towards the Incorporation of Panpsychism from Analytic Philosophy of Mind within the Doctrine of Creation 

Supervisors: Prof David Fergusson and Prof Mark HarrisSchool of Divinity

What was your research about?

Analytic philosophy of mind has recently seen a revival of interest in a theory about consciousness called panpsychism. Panpsychism is the idea that consciousness is fundamental and ubiquitous throughout reality; in some minimal way, everything contains consciousness. My research evaluated this idea and considered how compatible it is with Christianity. I argued that panpsychism is a plausible way for Christianity to articulate God’s presence in creation and creation’s worship of God.  

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What made you apply for the SGSAH AHRC DTP?

I wanted to be an academic in the humanities since I was about 10 years old.

Which aspects of your PhD did you enjoy the most?

I loved every minute. Even the long days in the library, where it felt like I achieved too little. The existential struggle of what I was doing with my life. But most of all, I enjoy the community both in my HEI and internationally through attending conferences.  

How has your PhD helped you to decide on a career path?

I built the necessary skills to be a Lecturer through completing my PhD – although I still had lots to learn in my post-doc years too. Doing PhD confirmed that I loved researching and teaching theology/philosophy enough to spend the rest of my life doing it. My PhD was published as a monograph in 2021. 

And now?

I am a Lecturer in Liberal Arts and Theology at the University of Leeds.  

I am writing a second monograph on how theologians can incorporate empirical research into their work and a third on autism and Christianity.  

One piece of advice you would give an incoming PhD researcher?

Be disciplined with your time and treat the PhD like a 9-5 job, and take weekends off.  

You’re probably not going to save the world – don’t take it too seriously. Try and have friends (and a life!) outside of academia.  

Everyone has imposter syndrome – you deserve to be here!  

Where can people find you?

SGSAH; SGSAH ResearchStaff profiles: