AU Institute of Theology and Religious Studies Launches Post Graduate Certificate in Theological and Religious Research

Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa delivering remarks during the launch of the Post Graduate Certificate in Theological and Religious Research.

Africa University together with Wesley House, Cambridge UK, welcomed the first cohort of the Post Graduate Certificate in Theological and Religious Research at its main campus in Mutare. The programme will train competent and well- prepared researchers who are capable of reigniting the theological discipline as a key pillar of the social sciences that has a powerful dynamic to add towards the discourse surrounding the transformation of Africa.

In his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Furusa noted and welcomed a number of alumni who had returned to the university for further study in the programme thanking them for their continued belief and trust in the Africa University brand and quality of education.

Speaking to the partnership with Wesley House, he said, “For the past five years, our university has intentionally championed the cause for research and the training of competent researchers who have a clear understanding and grasp of the African context through their experiences and can therefore create for Africa, timely interventions that speak to our context and unlock our development. This programme provides that intellectual space for such researchers to thrive. Faith based organizations and leaders are recognized by continental organs such as the African Union as integral to achieving Agenda 2063. Through funding provided by the GBHEM, Africa University and Wesley House are preparing this first cohort for further PhD studies with this in mind.”

 He went on to encourage the students to be bold in the research topics that they ultimately select for their respective thesis and in so doing to embrace rather than to disassociate themselves from their contexts as this ultimately affects the impact and relevance of their research. Prof. Furusa shared his vision for the first cohort of the Post Graduate Certificate in Research class as a means of inspiration saying, “I challenge you to rethink the way that you see Africa and how Africa is perceived by the world. Let this be a place from which knowledge is generated and disseminated as opposed to a passive recipient of information that often does not suit our ends or address or needs.” The sentiments put forth by Prof. Furusa echo the campaign that the institution is spearheading that seeks to change the African narrative to one of positivity, growth and the unleashing of the potential that the continent holds.

Dr. Andrew Stobart, Director of Research at Wesley House offered remarks on behalf of the institution and its Principal Dr. Jane Leach (who is also a member of the Africa University Board of Directors) saying, “Our aim in launching this important programme is to develop the capacity for theological education on the continent. I wish to thank Africa University for grasping the concept and ambition of what we aspire to achieve through our efforts. This partnership brings together two institutions and two continents. Both seek transformation of the world and the church. We both serve as a gateway between the church and its vocation to holiness and humanity. John Wesley said, ‘I look at the world as my parish”. The parish is everywhere and in everyone This partnership is an expression of this important quote. We both aspire to work together in this world parish to teach and to learn from each other. I am sure this is only the beginning and what we shall do together. It is our hope that this programme reflect the radical inclusivity that John Wesley intended with the world as our parish.”

With key note addresses delivered by Professor Clive Marsh, a research fellow with Wesley House and Professor Tabona Shoko, from the University of Zimbabwe, lively and stimulating discussion ensued amongst the audience regarding the current state of religion in Africa juxtaposed with the internal conflict of the African identity and heritage.

Africa University Institute of Theology and Religious Studies Director Dr. Bishau summarized the ambition of the institute saying, “As the ITRS, we are challenging ourselves to dream big. This has lead us to be dynamic in our approach, offering unique and relevant masters and PhD programmes that will feed directly into our society.  We are poised to become the training ground of choice for theological studies in Zimbabwe and Africa with the guiding principle that theology is better practised than preached.”

Wesley House is a community of Methodist scholars and students at the heart of the University city of Cambridge. Since 1921 it has been a gateway for students in the Wesleyan tradition into the excellent resources for learning in the University of Cambridge, and since 1972, to the shared resources of the globally significant Cambridge Theological Federation (a unique collaboration between Anglican, Reformed, Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox and Methodist communities of prayer and study) . Source: www.wesley.cam.ac.uk

Story by
Jeanette Dadzie
Office of Advancement and Public Affairs