Year Three is now well underway. After a rigorous selection process – involving internal and external reviewers – 23 of last year’s Catalysts have been chosen to advance to the next tier of our program which means they will receive funding and support to implement their theology and the sciences projects. In April and May, they spent time carefully refining their projects based on feedback received as part of the selection process.
Catalysts in Tier Two are now launching their very first projects. Meanwhile, those in Tier Three are scaling up their projects from last year, aiming to have an even greater impact at the regional and national level. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, Johnny Ngunza, whose anti-erosion project was covered in our last newsletter, has widened the scope of his project to include food security (see photo of one of Johnny’s volunteers above). In an effort to take the university out into rural communities, the project will mobilize students from the IFES national movement there to provide agronomy trainings to help residents develop small gardens that will increase the quality and quantity of their food supply.
In April, we were excited to welcome a new cohort of 20 Catalysts: 10 from Latin America and 10 from Francophone Africa. They began their theology and the sciences training with online workshops (see photo above) in April and are now progressing through their personal development plans. This foundational year is designed to develop the potential of these young academics, continuing to build their skills, character and knowledge, preparing them to lead future projects in their universities.
Our Catalysts range from graduate students and university researchers or teachers to national movement staff and professionals. You can meet a few of them by reading this short interview with new Catalyst Mónica, a forestry engineering and agriculture student from Costa Rica, and by reading this glimpse of two new projects: human genome editing in Ecuador and researching the role of oral tradition in Burundi. Also, see the end of this blogpost to see the titles of all of our Catalysts’ current projects.
Sharing learning worldwide
Our program may only be active in two regions but one of our goals has always been to raise up a new generation of thought leaders who will have a catalytic effect, stimulating new discussions about the relationship between theology and the sciences, particularly in the Majority World. This August, some of our Catalysts will have a unique opportunity to live out this call when they attend World Assembly, the IFES quadrennial conference.
More than 25 Catalysts and LCI staff will join approximately 1,000 participants at this global gathering in Indonesia. Delegates will include students, staff, graduates, board members and supporters from more than 150 countries and territories.
Several Catalysts have been invited to lead seminars or appear in videos during the conference, sharing practical examples and ideas of how they are engaging with their discipline to address pressing needs in their contexts. Catalysts will also be on hand at the Engaging the University booth in the exhibition space to share what they are learning at the LCI with interested delegates.
All current projects at a glance
- Climate change and biodiversity: understanding perceptions, promoting creation care (Burkina Faso)
- Psychosocial and theological approaches to the mental health of students traumatized by war (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
- Biblical perspectives on the Mousgoum people’s approach to ecology and construction (Cameroon)
- Investigating the role of religion in the geography and development of central Benin
- Making E-learning work for Francophone Africa: anthropological and theological reflections (Cameroon)
- Researching the role of oral communication in the transmission of science, faith and culture (Burundi)
Expanded projects continuing from last year
- Architecture, culture and creation: landscape recomposition strategies for habitat improvement (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
- Empowering students to escape from poverty through entrepreneurship (Senegal)
- Harnessing science and theology to tackle student mental health (Côte d’Ivoire)
- Christian and scientific perspectives on controversial mining techniques (Cameroon)
- Breaking bread: exploring the relationship between theology, food and nutrition security (Brazil)
- The environmental crisis: moving students from reflection to action (Guatemala)
- Chronic diseases, science and religion: developing resources, promoting dialogue (Mexico)
- Mental health and faith: new tools and training for student ministry (Mexico)
- Theological, scientific and bioethical approaches to human genome editing (Ecuador)
Expanded projects continuing from last year
- Empty truths and values: forging a dialogue between theology and life-serving technologies (Brazil)
- Equipping students to be agents of peace and justice in Latin America (Mexico and El Salvador)
- Developing a network to equip Christian researchers for theology-science dialogue (Brazil)
- Launching a research and mentoring group for mothers at the intersection of science and theology (Latin America)
Please pray with us:
- Thank God for the 43 Catalysts that have committed to being part of the LCI in Year Three and for all the advisors, consultants and mentors who have provided input on their projects
- Pray that Catalysts’ projects would be fruitful: stimulating new conversations about theology and the sciences, strengthening campus witness and helping bring God’s kingdom on earth.
- Pray for safe travels for those attending World Assembly and for an enriching time of fellowship and learning for all.
- Pray that at World Assembly Catalysts would inspire others to take their next steps in engaging with their discipline and transforming their universities, disciplines, churches and societies for the glory of Christ.