If you ask Afe Adogame, chair of history and ecumenics at Princeton Theological Seminary, Africa is a “gold mine of theological research waiting to be explored.” And, thanks to a new $2.4 million grant from the Nagel Institute funded by the Templeton Religion Trust, early-career African theologians will have the opportunity to cultivate and advance such research beginning January 2021. Letters of inquiry are due September 15, 2020, with full proposals due by December 1.
“The challenge is that much of the attempts to deal with problems that are uniquely African come from the outside,” says Adogame, chair and co-director of the project, titled Engaging African Realities: Integrating Social Science with African Theology. “We want to provide the building blocks for sustainable research and the discovery of profound answers to African problems in terms of African values and spirituality, as well as religious innovation and competition.”
This program focuses on grounded theology, and leveraging the social sciences to discover hidden cultural patterns, stories, and meanings. The result? Data-based theological insights for African realities. “The legacy of theological institutions, particularly from the West, has been largely considered armchair or desktop theology,” Adogame says. “With this project, we’re hoping to engage collaborative thinking regarding on-the-ground data and stories, and yield meaningful and sustainable developments promoting human flourishing.”
The 12 awards, reaching up to $50,000 USD each, will provide entree to three intensive workshops on social science and grounded theology, as well as a period for research and writing time at robust theological libraries and centers at Princeton Theological Seminary, Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and Nagel Institute at Calvin University. “This kind of intellectual encounter creates an opportunity for grantees to meet and work with faculty and students at various institutions, creating an enriching intellectual exchange,” Adogame says. “This is a project I’m looking forward to, especially as Africa emerges as a center of gravity of world Christianity.”