Professor Johannes Smit
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics website.
The School of Religion, Philosophy & Classics comprises three main disciplinary complexes. They are located at two sites, viz. Religion, Philosophy and Classics (Howard College, Durban) and Theology, Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (Pietermaritzburg). Our vision is to be a centre of excellence in African scholarship in the five main areas of Religion, Theology, Philosophy, Ethics and Classics. Our mission statement is to critically and constructively advance excellence in African-led scholarship through research, teaching and learning, and community engagement in a global context.
We are a proud cross-campus school with nearly 6 000 students enrolled in our courses annually and nearly 300 postgraduate students enrolling for our qualifications. We have thirty five permanent academic and seven administrative staff members across our programmes. About 50% of the academic staff are NRF-rated researchers. All excel in research, teaching and learning and community engagement. We are one of the foremost research-led schools at the University of KwaZulu-Natal with a proud complement of emeritus and retired academics as well as alumni.
Students who enrol for our programmes and modules will be empowered to both critically analyse and understand the socio-cultural systems and intellectual processes that we have inherited from the past as well as how we are transformatively and constructively engaging them. Since we are a research-led university, our ultimate aim is to cultivate a critical, ethically-responsive, inter-disciplinary and transformative research environment. This closely interlinks with our Teaching and Learning curricula and approaches as well as constructive Community Engagement. Some of our primary aims are the advancement of students’ intellectual and academic aspirations; the empowering of previously disadvantaged communities; the facilitation of social transformation processes; advancement of inter- and cross-cultural understanding; and the fostering of the collaborative, effective and efficient functioning of our diverse and multi-cultural South African society in a plural context. In all our work, we strive for quality and excellence.
Students are empowered to learn and master the foundational requirements of our disciplines, and to freely pursue their own related scholarly and career interests. Amongst others, we have educated and trained students in a large number of areas in the professions and working life, such as critical research, religious ministry, governance, the legal professions, education, administration and management, and a wide variety of cultural and non-governmental institutions. Our graduates are assertive intellectuals who can critically analyse and constructively contribute to the challenges communities face.
Finally, different sections in the school host very popular weekly or bi-weekly seminars, staff edit five research journals, the school is the home of research centres that make important contributions to both research and constructive community engagement, we have very significant international partnerships that allow for both staff and student exchanges, and we host substantial annual memorial lectures.
The journals are:
- Acta Classica (Editor: Prof John Hilton)
- Alternation: Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of the Arts and Humanities in Southern Africa. (Editor: Prof Johannes A. Smit)
- Journal of Gender and Religion in Africa: (Editor: Prof Isabel Phiri; Co-editor: Prof Sarojini Nadar)
- Journal for the Study of Religion. (Editor: Prof Johannes A. Smit)
- Journal of Theology for Southern Africa. (General Editor: Prof Gerald West; Editor: Janet Trisk; Book Review Editor: Prof Tony Balcomb)
- Nidan: Journal for the Study of Hinduism. (Editor: Prof P Pratap Kumar)
The centres are:
- Ujamaa, Centre for Community Development and Research;
- Sinomlando, Centre for Oral History and Memory Work;
- Centre for Constructive Theology;
- Islamic Studies Research Unit;
- the Centre for African Ethics; and
- the Classics Museum.
Some of our international partners include tertiary institutions, such as the University of Oslo; Humboldt University, Berlin; Union Theological Seminary, New York and institutions in Ethiopia and Tanzania; local academic Cluster partners include church-related educational centres such as: Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Congregational Church of South Africa; etc.
The annual memorial lectures, are the 1) Steve de Gruchy Lecture; 2) the Gunther Wittenberg Lecture; 3) the Mzwandile Nunes Lecture; and 4) the John Dube Lecture.
The key focus of students’ academic endeavours should be their responsible development of their own knowledge and skills portfolio. It is therefore incumbent on all to choose wisely from all the available programmes, modules as well as supervisors in the school but also participate in our very empowering systems, structures and lectures. This website has been brought together to assist you in this endeavour.
I wish you the best and success for 2015.
Prof Johannes A. Smit
Dean and Head of School
School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics.