Professor Simangaliso Kumalo of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) recently embarked on a week-long academic lecture and research collaboration at three universities in the United States.
Kumalo was invited to the University of Rochester in New York to deliver the Frederick Douglas Lecture as part of the Frederick Douglas Centre for African-American studies. The lecture was titled Religion and Governance: A Necessity or Public Nuisance? An African Perspective. It focused on the interface between religion and politics or governance in Africa.
The lecture was attended by academics and students, especially from the African diaspora. It generated a vibrant discussion on the role of religion in African politics.
Plans are under way for a collaboration between the Centre and the Institute for Religion, Governance and the Environment in Southern Africa (IRGESA). IRGESA is a new initiative started by academics at SRPC.
‘Its aim is to reflect on the interface between Religion, Governance and the Environment. There is commitment for the two Centre’s to establish (a) partnership to collaborate in research and exchange of both academics and students.
‘The Centre is also happy to receive fellows from SRPC. Currently, we are going through the necessary processes to ensure that the partnership is official and recognised by the University,’ Kumalo said.
By invitation from the Head of the Department of Religion at Drake University, Professor Tim Knepper and Vice-Provost for Global Relations, Ms Annique Kiel, Kumalo participated in their international partnership week as he was instrumental in setting up a partnership between UKZN and Drake University 10 years ago.
‘This is one of the most effective partnerships between the two institutions, which includes staff collaborations between the Discipline of Pharmacy, SRPC and School of Education with their counterparts at Drake.
‘In this partnership workshop, I represented UKZN and discussions were held on how we can strengthen the partnership and collaboration,’ said Kumalo.
He then attended the American Academy of Religions (AAR) conference in Denver, Colorado. It is an annual conference of academics and students of religion from all over the world. It is attended by over 10 000 scholars every year.
Kumalo was selected to chair a session of the Wesleyan Studies, titled Ecology and Creation in Wesleyan and Methodist Perspectives.
He held meetings with a number of colleagues from different universities in the world to discuss partnership and collaboration with IRGESA and UKZN.
‘This was an opportunity to continue testing and contributing to global scholarship and to place UKZN on the map. It was a joy and privilege to represent my institution and build new connections,’ he concluded.
Words: Melissa Mungroo