On 2nd October 2019, the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice hosted its second academic interview on the theme of “Research Methodological Concerns”. As a research center interested in challenging, contextually, theoretically and methodologically asymmetrical systems of power in society, we hold the view that the learning process ought to be as diverse as possible instead of the traditional ‘lecturer/students’ or ‘master/subject’ practice. In keeping up with this commitment of engaging scholarship and research, the center conceptualized and hosted an interview between two of their postgraduate students and a visiting scholar, Professor Evelyn Parker.
Prof Parker is a Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. Prof Parker received the Bachelor of Science from Lambuth College, Tennessee, the Master of Science from Prairie View A&M University, and the Master of Religious Education from Perkins School of Theology. She earned her PhD from the Joint Program of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary/Northwestern University in Religious and Theological Studies, with an interdisciplinary emphasis in Christian Education, Womanist approaches to religion and society, and education and public policy.
The two interviewers: Ashleigh Petersen, MA student with research interests in Media and Sexual Abuse, and Rhine Koloti, M.Th student with research interests in Pastoral Theology and Sexual Abuse.
The purpose of the interview was to explore the research methodology used by Prof Parker in her upcoming project titled “The Role of Religious Leaders in Preventing and Intervening in Youth Partner Violence”. We chose Ashleigh and Rhine to do the interview because it is well within the ambit of sexual violence which informs much of their own research. One highlight of the interview was the question posed to Prof Parker regarding her positionality within this research as a theologian interviewing religious leaders and how that might affect her research both negatively and positively. She acknowledged that her position might limit the research in the sense that religious leaders might be tempted to pretend to be responding to Youth Partner Violence. However, as a Fulbright Scholar with extensive knowledge in social research, Prof Parker illustrated how she will use videography as a method to assess non-verbal and verbal responses to her questions as one way of overcoming the said limitation..
- Insights shared on modern methodologies which one can use when restricted financially to move between participants.
- Possible funding models/applications from the United States of America in the areas of Practical Theology.
- Invited one of the interviewers to submit a proposal to the upcoming 2020 Biennial of the Association for Practical Theology, in Texas. (Prof Parker is the current President of the Association)
The event concluded with a question and answer session between the audience and Prof Parker, the audience engaged critically with Prof Parker’s methodology and research interest as a whole. The audience included students from across all disciplines.