First Africa University-Wesley House Doctoral class takes shape

Last summer, Africa University (AU) and Wesley House Cambridge officially launched their new joint doctoral program with a class of 13 students from across the continent of Africa.

Your support of the Africa University Fund apportionment supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure.

"The program helps to develop faculty for Methodist theological seminaries, colleges and universities in Africa," said Dr. David Bishau, director of Africa University's Institute of Theology and Religious Studies. "All the students are already involved in teaching and research in their respective seminaries, colleges and universities and this doctoral program will enhance their competencies in teaching, research and community engagement."

The goal is to expand the teaching and research capacity for United Methodist institutions in Africa by increasing the number of educators with doctorates and a deep knowledge of local needs and contexts. The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and the Central Conference Theological Education Fund (CCTEF) have both provided financial support to make this possible.

Doctoral students were nominated for the program by The United Methodist Church's College of African Bishops. Those who were accepted demonstrated a standing commitment to the church and the Wesleyan tradition of education, and offered plans to undertake original theological research.

"GBHEM is thrilled to be able to support the joint doctoral program with Africa University and Wesley House Cambridge. This initiative will create an important ripple effect for the church's global education network. Every scholar that completes this program can use his or her position to teach and mentor hundreds of new principled Christian leaders," said Rev. Greg Bergquist, GBHEM's acting general secretary.

"The hybrid structure of the program allows participants to stay in their posts and work on their Ph.D.s at the same time. This makes the program affordable and means that teaching in local places will be enriched immediately by the studies undertaken," said Rev. Dr. Jane Leach, principal of Wesley House Cambridge.

When students reach the doctoral stage of the program, they will continue to meet twice a year at Africa University and will have an extended residency at Wesley House Cambridge in the middle of their studies. Students will have mentors and advisors from both institutions guiding them throughout the process.

"By working jointly, across institutions, countries and continents, we can bring the different contexts of our different experiences of faith, different cultural assumptions and different theological emphases into a rich, informative and transformative dialogue," said Rev. Dr. Andrew Stobart, the director of research for Wesley House. "This kind of 'intra-contextual' work can only be done jointly. This feels very Methodist – we can only truly be ready to do the work God calls us to if we do it together, not apart."

Bishau and Stobart are particularly excited by some of the early research proposals they have seen from the doctoral students, including: The United Methodist Church's engagement with poverty in Liberia; African models for Christian education; and comparing the concept of sacredness in Christianity and African traditional religion.

excerpt from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Website

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Africa University Fund transforms Africa by educating and empowering students from across the continent through Africa University, the first fully accredited, United Methodist-related educational institution on the continent. The Africa University Fund supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Africa University Fund at 100 percent.