“World first” PhD in snowboarding really a sociology of religion PhD

I saw this story yesterday: the first man in the world to receive a PhD in snowboarding. But the story is actually a little more complicated: this was actually a PhD in the sociology of religion having to do with having spiritual experiences while snowboarding.

A vicar has become the first person to be awarded a “PhD in snowboarding” after studying at Kingston University.

The Rev Neil Elliot’s doctorate in the sociology of religion involved analysing the relationship between spirituality and snowboarding in his thesis.

A snowboarder for 15 years, he was inspired to research the area after hearing fellow fans of the sport describe moments of “Zen” while on the slopes – and concluded that despite church attendance falling, spirituality is still important in youth culture…

He interviewed 35 snowboarders who described spiritual moments they had experienced. “Riders found it sometimes all went silent and it was just them and the snow,” he said. “Even the sensation of constant turning disappeared.”

This could be less about snowboarding and more about how younger generations find spiritual experiences in non-traditional activities. It would be interesting to hear how these experiences are discussed, spread, and promoted within the snowboarding community.

And who wouldn’t want a vicar termed “Dr. Soulride”?

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