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7 September 2022
UWC and three partner universities host Spring School focusing on transformative religion
The University of the Western Cape (UWC), along with three partner universities, is hosting a Spring School which focuses on transformative religion. 

UWC collaborated with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Stellenbosch University and Humboldt University in Germany to host several of its PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, as well as academic and administrative staff at the training sessions. The Spring School started on 6 September and will conclude on 9 September. 

“Colleagues and students, the lived experiences of those involved will influence the lens through which a topic like religion is approached, and it is our hope that through sharing of ideas in a respectful manner we influence and contribute towards transformation. What does this transformation mean for me? Transformation is a total change by the renewing of the mind,” said Professor José Frantz, DVC: Research and Innovation (pictured) in her opening address. 

“It is a complete change for the better. What does this better mean? It does not mean we must conform but transform. So I hope that as you engage for the next few days, that we open up our minds to be receptive to hear different thoughts and opinions and use the time to reflect on how this renewing of our minds can transform us”.

According to Professor Torsten Meireis from Humboldt Univesity, the objective of this inter-disciplinary, bi-continental and international effort is fourfold: 
  • Investigating the impact of religion; 
  • Decolonising the research related to transforming religion; 
  • Pioneering interdisciplinary research addressing religious practice, agents, narratives and concepts from inside and outside perspectives, and, 
  • Cross disciplinary training and capacity building of young researchers.
One of the goals of UWC’s Institutional Operational Plan is to foster strategic partnerships, and Professor John Klaasen, Head of the Department of Religion and Theology at UWC’s Department of Anthropology, encouraged participants to engage in conversations and forge collaborations. 

Professor Federico Settler, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal explained: “For me, it’s an opportunity to bring together scholars, researchers, and post-doctoral researchers who have an interest in how religion manifests in African contexts, who thinks of it in terms of transformation, but also in a critical decolonial perspective. There is so much religious development and social transformation it tends to be a north-south imperial project and in this project, we are trying to disrupt that and allow researchers from the global south to present the perspective and research as theory.”
From left to right: Professor Federico Settler (University of KZN), Professor Torsen Meireis (Berlin’s Humboldt University), Professor José Frantz (DVC: Research & Innovation), and Professor John Klaasen (Head of Department of Religion and Theology) are both from the University of the Western Cape.