Dissertation projects at the Faculty of Theology

Here, our doctoral students introduce themselves personally and present their dissertation projects.

Ricardo Augusto Arakaki

About Ricardo Augusto Arakaki:

Ricardo Augusto Arakaki was born in Brazil in 1977, and graduated in Design and in Theology with a master's degree in Religious Sciences. He works as a pastor. Since 2017 he participates in the doctoral program in Theology of the University of Basel, in the area of Intercultural Theology, under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Andreas Heuser. He is married to Tatiana and father of Rian and Manuela.

About the Project:

Ricardo Augusto Arakaki's research project is entitled, "Pulpit and public - the shape of Public Theology in contemporary Brazilian Baptist Sermons”, and analyses sermons preached in Brazil in 2016, the peak year of the last political and economic crisis of the country. Utilizing a Content Analysis methodology and having as theoretical perspective the concepts of Public Theology, especially how it has been developed in the Brazilian context with its emphasis on public participation in a democratic society, this dissertation project seeks to provide a short contribution to the little explored debate on the relation between contextual Public Theology and sermons preached in the Baptist churches in Brazil.


About Isaac Effah-Boadi:

Isaac Effah-Boadi was born in Akim-Oda in the Eastern Part of Ghana in the year 1988. Isaac studied Bachelor of Arts in Family Counselling at Central University, Ghana and worked as a Pastor for two years at Grace Chapel International also in Ghana. In the year 2020, He studied Master of Arts in Intercultural Theology at the University of Göttingen in Germany. Isaac is married with children and currently pursuing a PhD at the university of Basel, department of Intercultural Theology.

About the project:

Over the past few decades, Ghana, a country rich in spiritual diversity and cultural tradition, has seen a significant shift in its religious landscape. The curious phenomena of African Traditional Religious Practises being revived and incorporated has coincided with the emergence of charismatic and prophetic churches. This junction of belief systems becomes the epoch of this study.

This research seeks to clarify the reasons behind this Reintroduction as well as its process and consequences. Through an analysis of the complex dynamics involved, this study aims to uncover the fundamental causes of this syncretism, the effects on religious identity and worldview, and the possible sociocultural consequences within Ghanaian culture. By use of this effort, a thorough comprehension of the complex interactions between modernity, faith and culture and unity and diversity.

Tabea Eugster

About the person:

Tabea Eugster-Schaetzle was born in Zurich in 1986, trained as a social deaconess after her apprenticeship and Matura, worked for and with children and young people at the Basel Minster for 6 years, studied theology in Basel, has been a doctoral student since 2020, is involved in a neighborhood meeting place and with the SRC, among other things, and spends her free time with her three daughters, in the forest, under the starry sky...

About the project:

"Ecumenical Perspectives on Conviviality in Precarious Contexts. A qualitative-empirical study (working title)."

This dissertation project is part of the SNF study "Conviviality in Motion: Practices and Theologies in Multiethnic Christian Communities."

My work examines, among other things, the question of how conviviality emerges in diverse communities in the face of the different everyday realities of migrants and Swiss - e.g. in terms of residence status or economic situation. To this end, an empirical study will be conducted in two congregations that share a high degree of migration sensitivity, but which have structurally and theologically different profiles. In particular, the common lines and respective positions with regard to theologies and practices of conviviality will be explored.

I was born in Zurich in 1986, trained as a social deacon after my apprenticeship and high school diploma, worked for 6 years at the cathedral in Basel for and with children and young people, studied theology in Basel, am a PhD student since 2020, am involved in a neighborhood meeting place, with the SRC and for foodsharing, spend my free hours with my three daughters, in the forest, under the stars...




(c) Bruno Biermann

Personal details:

Anita Dirnberger was born in Scuol in 1997, worked for a year in the editorial department of a Graubünden daily newspaper after graduating from high school, and then studied theology in Basel and Zurich from 2017 to 2023. Since February 2023 she is a doctoral candidate and assistant in the department of Hebrew Bible and Semitic Philology.

About the dissertation project:

The dissertation, under the working title "Zech 10-14 and the Increasing Importance of the Collective in Politics and Religion," focuses on the representation, constitution, and organization of the collective in the back of the Book of Zechariah. The idea of a king from Zech 9 who rules over a world-spanning empire is replaced by new motifs in chapters 10-14: individuals and especially concepts associated with kingship take a back seat to collectives and even disappear altogether. In Zech 12-13, for example, the people and individual subgroups of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah, such as families in Jerusalem, assume central functions in military defense as well as in ritual matters. The dissertation project will examine the various representations of collective organization in Second Zechariah. In doing so, the work draws on the dating of Zech 9-14 to the Hellenistic period, which has been increasingly advocated again in recent years. Could this focus on the organization of the collective be related to Hellenistic-Greek ideal concepts of community organization? Or do the social and political structures in Jerusalem and Judah under Hellenistic rule provide a background for these various descriptions of the organization of the collective in Zech 10-14? In the process, extra-biblical texts that may have originated in Hellenistic times will also be considered as reference texts for reflections on the ideas of the organization and constitution of the collectives described in Zech 10-14.

Kyuseon Jin

Personal details:

Kyuseon Jin is originally from Korea. There he was ordained as a pastor. Today he lives in Germany with his wife and daughter. He runs the Youtube channel 진목 TV, where he discusses topics related to Christianity. He also works as a translator of central theological texts from English and German into Korean.

About the project:

Kyuseon Jin's current research project deals with Immanuel Kant's and Albrecht Ritschl's critique of the traditional doctrine of original sin and their respective redesign of it. The central focus will be on Kant's concept of radical evil and Ritschl's critical examination and reception of this idea. This comparative research project will trace and illustrate the fruitfulness of the dialogue between philosophy and theology using the example of original sin.

Lisa Ketges

Personal details:

Lisa Ketges was born in Germany and is at home in the world. Previous stations were Wuppertal, Marburg, Stellenbosch (South Africa) and Göttingen. In 2019, she graduated with a master's degree in theology. She is part of the SNF research project "Conviviality in Motion". She loves Basel and the Rhine and enjoys train and bike riding.


About the project:

"The aesthetics of conviviality: studies on a diversity-sensitive practical-theological ecclesiology."

Together instead of side by side: How do "intercultural" congregations succeed in being a community as diverse ones? What visionary, cross-border theologies and practices matter.
As an empirical research project, two "intercultural" congregations in Germany are being studied. Two aspects play a special role: aesthetics and education.
The gap between vision and reality is about an experiential, productive connection of visions and practices of living together, which is needed for a diversity-sensitive practical-theological ecclesiology.

Tobias Meihofer

Personal details:

Tobias Meihofer (born 1984, married, three children) studied theology in Basel after a commercial career. He is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Systematic Theology/Dogmatics (Professorship Bernhardt) at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Basel and an editor at Theologischer Verlag Zürich (TVZ).

About the project:

"Scripture as Authority. A Systematic-Theological Study on the Understanding of the Ecumenical Working Group of Protestant and Catholic Theologians on the Validity of Holy Scripture (working title)".

The SNF-funded study inquires into the normative meaning of Holy Scripture in a confessional-comparative perspective. The starting point is the final document of a twelve-year study by the Ecumenical Working Group of Protestant and Catholic Theologians, which was published under the title "Binding Testimony" (three volumes, 1992-1998). The doctoral project subjects the concept of "scriptural authority", which is prominently represented in the study, to a constructive problematization and investigates its applicability to the written form of a testimony of revelation.


Esther Maria Meyer

Personal details:

During my studies at the theological faculties of Basel and Freiburg i.B. I followed my growing interest in the varieties of interconfessional and interreligious ecumenism and in dialectical, but especially hermeneutical theology. During my doctoral studies I am linking this prior knowledge with the developments concerning intercultural openness. Another new focus is the use of religion-empirical research methods.

About the project:

"Don't just satisfy yourself anymore!" This slogan is driving state churches throughout the German-speaking world to advance structural changes that enable and support intercultural opening. In my doctoral project, I am examining these developments in the context of the Baden Landeskirche. The focus of the study is the analysis of an intercultural church center. In this center, five congregations of different origin, size, structure and language live, celebrate and organize worship services and congregational life in the same rooms. How can (professional) friendship and productive passion for a lived intercultural ecumenism emerge from a tenant relationship? What theological motifs and narratives emerge in the different settings and what role do they play in living together? What so-called coping strategies were developed to deal with challenges? Within the framework of a qualitative-empirical research design that uses the methodology of reflexive grounded theory and sequential analysis, I explore these and other questions. Based on empirically collected data within the next two years, a mid-range study will emerge that will provide both a detailed analysis of the church center and insights of a larger scope.

Samuel Sarpaning

About Samuel Sarpaning:

Samuel Sarpaning is a Ph.D. candidate in intercultural theology at the University of Basel under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Andreas Heuser. The title of his thesis is “Appropriation and Adaptation of the Christ-Event: An Examination of Akan Concept of Okra Towards Conceptualizing Nananyamekra as a New Christological Model Within the Ghanaian Context” .


About the Project:

Samuel Sarpaning's current research is a constructive contribution to the ongoing contextual expression of the Christian faith through the use of African religious thought forms and philosophical ideas. The research seeks to explore the notion of okra (life-force) among the Akan of West Africa, to ascertain whether it can form the basis for articulating a contextual Akan Christology. This will involve a constructive philosophical and theological investigation of the Akan okra and its implications for Christological reflections and learning. The ultimate aim is to offer contemporary Akan Christians with applicable indigenous knowledge to conceive and respond to the Christian faith within their context.

Mathias Tanner

Personal details:

Mathias Tanner, lic. sc. theol., born 1979, is assistant at the Institute for Empirical Research on Religion at the University of Bern and migration officer at the Reformed Churches Bern-Jura-Solothurn. Working and research interests: Religion, conflict and peace; interreligious relations, interreligious peacebuilding; Muslims in Switzerland.

About the project:

The topic of the dissertation is interreligious peacebuilding. I am examining interfaith peacebuilding initiatives in a religion-based violent conflict in the city of Jos in Nigeria. The conflict between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups is about access to power and resources. I examine the impact of peacebuilding initiatives (e.g., in the areas of dialogue, sports, agriculture) on relationships between participants. The study contributes to scholarly and practical discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of interfaith peacebuilding initiatives.

successfully completed dissertations at the Faculty of Theology


Katharina Merian

received a doctor's degree for her dissertation on the black lesbian/bisexual human rights activist Marielle Franco in the context of Johann Baptist Metz's political theology and his concept of dangerous memories (Systematic Theology/Dogmatics)

About Katharina Merian

Katharina Merian (*1990) studied theology, religious studies, and history in Basel, Zurich, and Rome. She completed her learning vicariate in Basel and was ordained in 2018. She is interested in liberation and political theologies, and Ignatian spirituality.


Florence Häneke

received a doctor's degree for der dissertation on pastoral theology of LGBTQ* pastors promoviert:

"Was mich lebendig macht." - Eine Studie zu queerer pastoraler Identität (Practical Theology)

In her dissertation, Florence Häneke examines identity construction and pastoral theologies in the self-conceptions of LGBTQ* pastors in Germany. In the work as a pastor, coming to terms of public positioning and balancing pastoral work and privacy, the individual way of living, desires and gender inevitably play a crucial role. This becomes even more significant when these aspects are lived out in a non heterosexual family setting. For her dissertation project Florence Häneke worked with pastors and examined how they understand and construct their understanding of pastoral identity and their work as a pastor.


About Florence Häneke:

Florence Häneke works as a pastor. She is interested in pastoral theology; Queer Theology; LGBTIAQ* in society, church, and theology; research on mourning, right-wing populism and Christian churches; congregation development in anti-racist work; empirical theology; methods and methodology in qualitative social scienes and ethnography; interdisciplinary research; philosophy of religion.

Matthias Stracke-Bartholmai

received a doctor's degree for his dissertation on theories on childhood in the field of (Practical) theology:

"Praktische Theologie im Licht der Kindheit – differenztheoretische Explorationen in systematisierender Absicht" (Practical Theology)


About Matthias Stracke-Bartholmai:

Matthias Stracke-Bartholmai works as advisor for youth in the church and Autobahnkirchen.


Delphine Conzelmann

received a doctor's degree for her dissertation on the Cistercian monk William of St. Thierry (1075-1148):

«Bird of Many Plumes: Conceptions and Applications of Authority in the Thought of William of Saint-Thierry». (Church history).

In this study, Delphine Conzelmann shows the rich diversity of concepts of authority and innovation in the works of the Cistercian William of Saint-Thierry, making an important contribution to research on the burgeoning age of Scholasticism.

For her dissertation Delphine Conzelmann has beend awarded the Emilie Louise Frey Prize 2022.

About Delphine Conzelmann:

Delphine Conzelmann has been an assistant at the Chair of Church History since 2018. Born and raised in Basel, she also completed her Bachelor's degree here. She then completed her Master's in Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary (USA) with a focus in Systematic Theology. During her studies she has always been active in various fields outside the university, gaining experience in the church, in nursing and for some time in journalism. Her interest is to make reflections and concepts from academic theology fruitful for society.



Katherine Kunz

received a doctor's degree for her dissertation on the understandings of home and migration in the context of a church-based refugee program in Basel:

"Being Here: An Ethnographic Study of Asylum-Seeking and Home at Projekt DA-SEIN, Offene Kirche Elisabethen, Basel, Switzerland" (Practical Theology)

About Katherine Kunz:

Katherine Kunz holds an M.A. in Art and Religion from the Graduate Theological Union and an M.Div. from Pacific School of Religion, both in Berkeley, California, and a B.A. from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

Her publications include “Benedictine Spirituality and the Land” in the OCHRE Journal of Women's Spirituality and “Responding to the Loss of Home: Perspectives and Practices of Refugees in the Context of the Projekt DA-SEIN in Basel (Switzerland)” with Dr. Andrea Bieler, in Religion and Migration: Negotiating Hospitality, Agency and Vulnerability. Research interests include: Migration and Religion, Home and Theology, Religion and the Arts, Empirical Research, Practical Theology, Post-colonial Theology, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Katherine currently lives with her husband in California, USA, where she also works as a consultant in higher education. Katherine Kunz has previously worked as a youth minister, higher education administrator, and non-profit consultant.

Silke Radosh-Hinder

received a doctor's degree for her dissertation on inter-religious communication:

"Konstruierte Gleichheiten. Eine Einzelfallstudie zu interreligiöser Kommunikation im urbanen Raum" (Practical  Theology)

Her dissertation addresses the question of how representatives from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious communities and organizations interact with each other, establish relationships, express religious and cultural differences, and negotiate different constellations of interests in the process of planning a joint project.

For her dissertation Silke Radosh-Hinder has been awarded the Faculty Price in 2022.

Her book, entitled "Konstruierte Gleichheiten. Von interreligiöser Kommunikation zu politischer Freundschaft", Bielefeld transcript Verlag, 2022, may be downloaded here (German only).

About Silke Radosh-Hinder:

Silke Radosh-Hinder currently holds the position as Stellvertretende Superintendentin in Berlin (Kirchenkreis Berlin Stadtmitte/Deutschland.)


Helge Bezold

received a doctor's degree for his dissertation on the book of Esther:

"Ester – Eine Gewaltgeschichte. Literarische und historische Studien zu den Gewaltdarstellungen in der hebräischen und griechischen Esterüberlieferung" (Old Testament).

In this study he investigates the depiction of excessive violence in the conclusion to the Esther narrative in the Hebrew and Greek textual traditions.

For his dissertation Helge Bezold has been awarded the Faculty Prize 2022.

His book "Ester – eine Gewaltgeschichte. Die Gewaltdarstellungen in der hebräischen und griechischen Esterüberlieferung", Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2023, may be downloaded here (German only).

"The Book of Esther tells the story of a plot to exterminate the Persian Jews and their great struggle against their enemies. This study locates these portrayals of violence in the Hellenistic epoch, in the Hasmonean period (second century BCE). It compares the Hebrew text with the two Greek Books of Esther, thus providing insights into a dynamic discourse of violence in Hellenistic and Roman literature." (source: publication house)

About Helge Bezold:

Currently Helge Bezold works as a Post-Doctoral researcher at the Philipps-Universität Marburg.

After studying in Berlin, Heidelberg, and Princeton, Helge Bezold taught Old and New Testament at the Universities of Frankfurt am Main and Giessen. At the same time, he is a collaborator in the SNF project "Transforming Memories of Collective Violence in the Hebrew Bible". His teaching was recognized in 2019 with the university-wide Credit Suisse Award for Best Teaching in the category "Future Talents." Helge Bezold also seeks to bring his research on violence in the OT to the church and society through lectures and interviews.