Race, Theology, and Pedagogy: Conversations Between Africans and Americans
In the Spring semester of 2021, Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Tumaini University Makumira in Usa River, Tanzania, engaged in a collaborative learning experiment about race, colonialism, and theology. This effort was funded by grants from the Saint Anselm Fund for Catholic Social Teaching, and a Collaborative Grant from the American Academy of Religion. The cooperating professors – R. Ward Holder at Saint Anselm and Cynthia Holder Rich at Tumaini, wished to explore how literally hearing from different voices – a goal frequently stated in liberative pedagogy but not always achieved – could affect the processes of learning about race, about theology, their interconnections, and educational outcomes. Students at the two colleges regularly interacted, both with noted theologians in webinars, and with each other on questions of race and colonialism. The outcomes of this pilot project suggested several fruitful avenues, both in student learning and educational outcomes. Students achieved greater understanding of colonialism and the need for decolonizing, and the manners in which theological constructs are intertwined with cultural conceptions about race; the outcomes demonstrated the importance of group work and discussion, the persistence of racialized conceptions, and the frequent rejection by dominant group students of conceptions of systemic racism. The lecture will discuss those lessons learned, as well as avenues for further pedagogy and research.
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