In 2017 the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria celebrated its centenary year. Whilst it gave thanks for the past, acknowledged its shortfalls during the apartheid era and celebrated its achievements over the years, it placed a great deal of significance on shaping the future. The Faculty is one of the leading theological institutions in South Africa and in Africa at large. It is known for its quality research, relevant teaching and learning programmes, and community engagement, especially through its centres.
The Faculty has the largest number of National Research Foundation (NRF) rated scholars and produces hundreds of peer-reviewed articles per year in highly accredited journals, both nationally and internationally. It offers cutting-edge research on relevant, contextual, interdisciplinary, and trans-disciplinary levels. It acknowledges that such work cannot be done in ivory towers and therefore aims to engage research that is life-changing and transforming; making a difference in communities and society at large.
As far as teaching and learning is concerned, the Faculty continues to pursue excellence as it gears its course content to relevantly address current issues and struggles, differing epistemologies, curricula transformation, decolonisation and africanisation. We are engaging different methods in teaching that encourages critical thinking, investigation, interactive and participatory learning, alternate forms of assessments, and the use of technology. Further, our teaching modules are being directed to incorporate non-theological modules to enable students to train for careers outside of Theology as well. We have very qualified, experienced and dedicated lecturers who are committed to assist students at whatever level of study to complete and graduate at the expected time.
The Faculty, in its intention of impacting and working for the common good of society, has partnerships with a number of stakeholders which include, but are not limited to churches, government and non-governmental organisations, and community leaders andministries. In our efforts towards transformation, we are seeking to foster inclusivity, embrace diversity and promote equity. We are creating a new culture that embraces a true ecumenical spirit and posture, especially seeing that our students come from over 33 different denominations.
As of 2018, the Faculty of Theology's name has changed to the Faculty of Theology and Religion. The addition of Religion is an attempt to be more inclusive and to open our space to people of other faiths. The Faculty is still essentially Christian in its theological orientation, but realises the need to engage in dialogue and research with other religions on important themes, for example, religious violence and fundamentalism, as we seek to create a better world and fullness of life for all.
Saint Anselm of Canterbury, in defining Theology, said it is “faith seeking understanding”. In a world of great complexities, injustices, differentiations and global struggles, we need to consistently grapple with our understanding of God, life and reality. The Faculty of Theology and Religion thus offers relevant, critical and contextual teaching, quality research and community engagement, preparing students to respond to the challenges of life, making a difference in society, providing the tools and skills to apply knowledge to given contextual experiences and creating an environment for new ideas and thoughts to emerge. It is a Faculty that facilitates life-affirming theologies, nurtures transformative leaders, promotes justice and peace and prepares students for a changing environment and world. Whether you are training for the ministry in the church or in the ‘market place’, this is the right place to be, as we bring faith and context together, dissect and analyse the realities of life and explore questions related to spirituality, beliefs and faith practices.
Welcome to the Faculty of Theology and Religion and enjoy the journey!
Best wishes and regards,
Prof Jerry Pillay