Describe your “connection” to the work and researchers of the DTCRSJ
I have known Professor Nadar for about 25 years through her publications and lectures, as colleagues in the AAR/SBL, our mutual affiliation with the WCC, and her work with the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians. She graciously accepted my invitation to serve on a Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society panel and to lecture to my students during immersions to South Africa. Her leadership in the Centre was the perfect opportunity to seek her endorsement for the Centre to host my Fulbright Scholar research during the July 2019 – January 2020 period. Professor Nadar and members of the DTCRSJ provided a hospitable space for provocative discussions of my research topic on the role of religious leaders in the intervention and prevention of youth dating violence.
What are your current research, teaching and academic service projects?
As with my Fulbright research, I continue to focus on the Centre’s thematic area of Religion and Gender. Specifically, I am doing a parallel study of the role of religious leaders in intervention and prevention of youth dating violence in the USA. The research in both South Africa and the USA will result in a book on best practices for religious leaders. I am also preparing for another research project that examines aspects of religion and the health of 15 – 25 year old young people.
I was invited to teach UWC – BTh students in the preaching and Christian ministry courses both in 2019 and September 2020. I focused my five sessions in the Christian ministry module on white supremacy and patriarchy. While a bit surprised about the focus of the module, students willingly engaged the reading assignments and conversations with a view toward practical implications in their religious institutions.
How do you plan to use your new position to enhance research, teaching, and academic service between the Centre and your networks?
I will serve the DTCRSJ and greater UWC community primarily by seeking funding (grants) to support the vision, mission, and foci of the Centre. I have gained experience with obtaining and managing grants for research and intend to use that experience for the benefit of the Centre. I monitor grants from various organizations through a subscription with a grants for NGOs website.
Also, I have a number of relationships that include the Fulbright Scholars Program, the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, as a founding member of the Board of the Daughters of the African Atlantic, President of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and past President of the Association of Practical Theology. These organizations and my connections with them can benefit the vision, mission and foci of the DTCRSJ.
In what way (s) do you feel your research examines the intersections of and overlaps between religion and social justice?
My research on gender based violence among youth is within the scope of the Centre’s Religion and Gender focus. As mentioned above, I am also preparing for another research project that examines aspects of religion and the health of 15 – 25 year old young people. This project follows my publication, “Race, Religion and Health among African Descended Young Women” (2016). This novel project is transdisciplinary and with address health policy for youth and young women specifically.
Also, the Covid-19 Pandemic has revealed new disparities and injustices for African descended people that begs investigation, particularly related to young women and girls. I most recently developed and convened a conference for Historical Black Methodist Clergy in the USA and healthcare professionals for a conversation on the Covid-19 virus. The 90 minute event revealed questions that I will explore regarding the intersections of healthcare, healthcare professionals, African descended people, religious belief, and religious leadership. This conference was the first of such conversations that I will develop but broaden to a global participation/audience. My relationship with the WCC and their help to connect with the World Health Organization will help me with this research.
What advice can you offer post-graduate students and emerging scholars?
The best advice that I can offer post-graduate students and emerging scholars is to hone your questions so that they not only produce the desired publications and degrees that you seek but think of questions to examine that help people thrive and flourish. Develop questions to explore for the greater good or all humankind.