Africa University’s Institute of Theology and Religious Studies together with Wesley House Cambridge (UK) held a mini- conference from the 28th to the 29th of July 2023 under the theme, “Rethinking African Christian Theology in the Digital Era”. Attended by PhD candidates enrolled in the postgraduate programme jointly offered by AU and Wesley House, presentations were also given allowing the fellows an opportunity to showcase their research to date and present it for constructive criticism and evaluation by peers to further strengthen and reinforce ideas, develop theories and strengthen observations.
Dr Medi Volpe-Ayers, Director of Research for Wesley House, gave some background on the long-standing partnership with AU that was begun in 2019. “It is indeed an efficacious partnership we have with Africa University and we really look forward to another group of PhD students when this group has completed their studies.” She also indicated that the partnership will not only assist with funding of postgraduate studies for PhD candidates in the field of theology on the continent, but will also contribute to the larger body of African Theological Education.
Opening the mini conference, College of Social Sciences, Theology, Humanities and Education(CSSTHE) Dean Professor Manyawu welcomed the initiative as a positive move towards creating a culture of research and knowledge generation most especially driven by the African experience. “This programme is a bridge in the aspirations of our PhD candidates who see themselves contributing to the development of our continent. I challenge you to take this process as an opportunity to innovate, change ideas and shift the course of our future. Education should serve to emancipate and we therefore hope that those who are enrolled in this programme will take Africa from bondage to dominion.”
Giving remarks on behalf of the Vice Chancellor Reverend Professor Peter Mageto, Registrar Dr. Mangezvo stressed that the rigours and trials of the PhD course of study are only the beginning in the academic journey and the constant quest for education and improvement of existing knowledge systems must be a continuous process. He added that it is heartening to see the PhD fellows supporting each other through the conference and inspiring each one to continue onwards.
He said, “ This is a demanding programme and we therefore celebrate your courage to continue and to participate in initiatives such as these which are enriching as you present your writings to scrutiny , peer review and continuous correction. This shall be a festival of ideas and robust engagement. You are more so enriched by the collection of minds from Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Zimbabwe, the USA and the UK. This conference and its themes prescribe some urgency upon us to embrace technology, research, and learning. We need to rethink , reimagine and re-conceptualize.”
Presentations from the conference shall contribute to an inaugural theology journal to be published by the Institute of Theology and Religious Studies feeding into the university’s vision of creating various centers of excellence and knowledge for African scholars to benefit from.