In the Faculty of Theology and Religion we focus on life-affirming theologies by seeking to teach theologies that are constructive, critical, relevant, contextual and engaging. We undertake quality, collaborative, inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research while nurturing transformative leaders that serve the academia, faith-communities and society. In our research, we strives to promote justice, peace, the integrity of creation, reconciling diversity and flourishing of human life. We believe that, in our research, there should be a space for pluriversality, differing epistemologies, inter-religious dialogue and new technologies; and that our research endeavours should engage in a critical reading of texts from religious, historical, and life experiences.
To facilitate the above mission and vision of our research, the Faculty has identified the following four research themes:
- Religion and Sustainable Development
- Inclusive cities/communities
- Religion and Science
- Economy, ecology and theology.
These four research themes are linked with the current research foci of members of the Faculty, and inter- and trans-disciplinary topics currently being researched. The current research topics of the members of the Faculty, categorised in terms of the 17 SDGs of the United Nations, are poverty (SDG 1), good health and well-being (SDG 3), quality education (SDG 4), gender equality (SDG 5), decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), reduction of inequality (SDG 10), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), and peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16).
As a research intensive Faculty, we plan to continue to strengthen contextual, collaborative and interdisciplinary research to enhance social impact. Our main focus is to steer inter- and trans-disciplinary research as we collaborate with other Faculties at UP and with both national and international research partners.
From an inter- and trans-disciplinary research perspective, the Faculty is currently collaborating with other faculties on campus and with more than 80 research associates from different disciplines in different areas. In the first area, Faith in the city, four specific research projects are undertaken in collaboration with inter alia the City of Tshwane, DePaul University in Chicago, the Nagel Institute for World Christianity, the African Urban Theology Network, the Society for Urban Theology, Georgia State University, Hong Kong Baptist University, and the Centre for Theological Inquiry in Pittsburgh. The other areas in which inter- and trans-disciplinary research are taking place are Social justice and reconciliation (focusing on themes such as social justice and reconciliation, healing of historical trauma; restorative justice; housing, land and spatial justice; forgiveness and Ubuntu; ethical public leadership; and the use of art in reconciliation and justice work), Doing theology with children (considering the interface between children, faith and society; participating in the Child Theology Africa Network), Spirituality and health (hosting HospiVision, a research project that particularly interested in the relationship between spirituality and health care), and Sustainable communities (a project in which the Nova Institute and the International Institute for Development and Ethics [IIEED] in the Netherlands collaborate on alternative technologies in local communities to reduce impact on the environment and enhance sustainable livelihoods and local self-reliance).
Apart from the a above, the Faculty also has established a research unit titled Philosophy, Religion and Context. This research unit seeks to create a transversal space to allow trans-disciplinary conversations between the various disciplines and sub-disciplines of philosophy and religion (theology) to engage with contemporary questions and challenges that emerge from the context, the specific African context, yet in conversation with global challenges.