The Nagel Institute, with generous support from the Templeton Religion Trust, invited project proposals for the African Theological Advance initiative. Its aim is to support African Christian scholars, in theology and other disciplines, to engage in fresh research, thinking and teaching about Christianity’s engagement with contemporary African society.
This initiative made 16 grants between $35,000 and $50,000 USD for two-year research and curricular development projects. These grants are to postgraduate African theological seminaries or universities with postgraduate theology programs. The awards will be for research and curricular development projects that address gospel and culture issues in Africa by drawing on interdisciplinary methods and insights to address one of four topical areas:
- African spirituality and values
- Science and religion—particularly health and healing
- Religious innovation and competition
- Forgiveness, peacemaking and reconciliation
Winning projects will feature both fresh research into contemporary African realities and the incorporation of this new knowledge into Christian thought and curricular renewal.
The focus of this project is to encourage African scholars to a fresh understanding of how Christianity engages contemporary African realities in these four topical areas. The project also focuses on African theological institutions and programs. It aims to help them employ and develop their capacities as conveners of research and scholarship and to embed the fresh insights they gain from research within their programs of teaching and community service. Interdisciplinary teams would conduct research and develop Christian thought that would be infused throughout these institutions’ theological and ministerial education.
This project also aims to recognize and enlist the multiple sources of talent and insight for accomplishing such tasks. Theological schools and programs are invited to propose projects that draw on the deep insights into Gospel and culture that African scholars across the continent are developing. They are also encouraged to enlist the unique talents and perspectives of African-diaspora scholars now serving on other continents. They are also welcome to draw on the Interest in African Christian thought and mission among non-Africans as well. Grant funding thus would be used to convene research teams that draw on local, regional and international talent. These teams would focus first on new research projects and then on developing teaching modules, courses, publications, media pieces and continuing education events that would disseminate the new discoveries and embed them into the ongoing program of education.
Project Topical Areas and Key Questions
African Christian scholars and church leaders, in conversation with Templeton officers, have identified four topical areas of high interest and relevance. Successful proposals will address questions within one or more of these four areas: