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Potenziale der Zusammenarbeit mit African Initiated Churches für nachhaltige Entwicklung 
Ergebniszusammenfassung des Forschungsprojekts und Handlungsempfehlungen für die deutsche Entwicklungspolitik

Policy Brief 04/2019:
Ökologische Nachhaltigkeit in African Initiated Churches

Policy Brief 03/2019:

Religion und Entwicklung:Die Herausforderungen staatlicher  Entwicklungspolitik in der Zusammenarbeit mit religiösen Gemeinschaften

Policy Brief 02/2019: 
Religion und Politik in Afrika: Neue Dynamiken des Politischen in African Initiated Churches

Policy Briefs 01/2019: 
AICs in Ostafrika – Unabhängigkeit, Bildung, Landwirtschaft

Policy Briefs 04/2018:
Youth Empowerment and African Initiated Churches in Urban Zimbabwe (in Englisch, deutsche Zusammenfassung auf S.5)

Policy Briefs 03/2018:
Religion matters - African Initiated Churches matter!

Policy Briefs 02/2018:
Was sind African Initiated Churches?

Policy Briefs 01/2018:
AICs in Westafrika - Professionelle Träger sozialer Grunddienste im Bildungs- und Gesundheitssektor 

Religion & Development Discussion Paper 01/2019: 
The Challenge of Environment and Climate Justice: Imperatives of an Eco-Theological Reformation of Christianity in African Contexts (Dietrich Werner)

Religion & DevelopmentDiscussion Paper 03/2018:
Religion and Sustainable Development: The “Secular Distinction” in Development Policy and its Implication for Development Cooperation with Religious Communities (Philipp Öhlmann, Stefan Hunglinger, Wilhelm Gräb & Marie-Luise Frost)

Religion & DevelopmentDiscussion Paper 02/2018:
Pentecostal Charismatic Christianity and the Management of Precarity in Post-Colonial Zimbabwe (Josiah Taru)

Religion & DevelopmentDiscussion Paper 01/2018:
"Avoiding ‘White Elephants’ – Fruitful Development Cooperation from the Perspective of African Initiated Churches in South Africa and Beyond" (Philipp Öhlmann, Marie-Luise Frost & Wilhelm Gräb)

Religion & DevelopmentDiscussion Paper 01/2017:
"African Initiated Churches and Sustainable Development in South Africa – Potentials and Perspectives"
(Philipp Öhlmann, Marie-Luise Frost & Wilhelm Gräb)

Research Programme on Religious Communities and Sustainable Development

Welcome to the Research Programme on Religious Communities and Sustainable Development!













The Research Programme on Religious Communities and Sustainable Development is an interdisciplinary hub for excellent research and policy advice in the field of religion and development. It is based at the Faculty of Theology and headed by Philipp Öhlmann and Wilhelm Gräb.


Current News

Call for Applications: Maltester Fellowship on Religion and Development in Northern Iraq

The Research Programme RCSD, in cooperation with Malteser International, is advertising two post-doctoral/doctoral visiting research fellowships on religion and development in Northern Iraq. The aim of the fellowship is to conduct in-depth qualitative research to understand the reasons for return vs. non-return of displaced families and the role of religious communities for development in Northern Iraq. The fellows will spend three months at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and three months in Northern Iraq. Please see here for further information. We look forward to receiving applications until 31 March 2020.

Newsletter 01/2020

Please click here to find our current newsletter. Here, we provide news from our Research Programme as well as information concerning new publications, upcoming events and our most recent activities.

Panel on "Re-shaping development – African Initiated Christianity’s contribution to decolonizing development" at GloPent 2020 Conference in Basel

The Research Programme RCSD convened a panel on "Re-shaping development – African Initiated Christianity’s contribution to decolonizing development" at the Conference of the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (GloPent 2020) in Basel, Switzerland. Afe Adogame (Princeton Theological Seminary), Theresa Mayer (Tübingen University & Research Programme RCSD) and Mangaliso Matshobane (University of Pretoria) contributed excellent papers to the panel, which was chaired by Marie-Luise Frost (Research Programme RCSD). Adogame opened the panel with a presentation on “Revisiting Religion as an Antinomy of Development: African Christianities and the Public Sphere”. In the second presentation on “Ghana’s Pentecostal Churches – between Hotspot of the Holy Spirit and Postcolonialism”, Mayer emphasized that “the ‘post’ of postcolonialism is more than a temporal description. … It is more about decentering … structures of thought.” Matshobane concluded the panel with a paper on “Development Cooperation and Independent Pentecostal Churches – Decolonial Perspectives”.

The full panel description and abstracts can be found here.

Call for Applications: Intensive course “Between Cosmology and Community: Religion and Sustainable Development” 20/07-01/08/2020 at the University of the Western Cape

In an exciting intensive course on religion and development, master students and PhD candidates will be teamed up to explore empirical research methods in theory and practice. The course investigates the relations of religion with decolonial development, ecology, politics, gender equality and peace through high-profile lectures and conveys vital academic methods and soft skills, e.g. participatory observation, research ethics, grant application writing, academic networking etc. The ambitious course supports aspiring young academics to pursue their individual interests in the field of religion and development and connects international students and researchers in a personal setting at the University of the Western Cape. Please see here for more details and the possibility to apply until 31 March 2020.

Q-Kolleg: “Religion and sustainable development. Empirical research seminar in cooperation with University of Pretoria” 25/01-31/01/2020 at University of Pretoria

From 25/01-31/01/20 the Research Unit for Religious Communities and Sustainable Development, in collaboration with the Faculty of Theology of the University of Pretoria, organized a joint Q-Kolleg. Q-Kollegs are innovative, research-based seminars supported by the Bologna.Lab at HU Berlin. The journey of the Berlin students to South Africa was well prepared by seminar sessions with text work, discussions and lectures. Students from Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Pretoria developed their own empirical research in learning tandems, which they then presented to the group during the seminar in Pretoria. The seminar was followed by field research for the majority of participants. The topics ranged from the Zion Christian Church's relation to ecological beliefs in traditional African religions to the work of Muslim development organizations for women in South Africa. The broad spectrum of empirical research projects sparked lively discussions and was framed by lectures by scholars from both partner universities on the subject of religion and development.

Call for Papers: The Grammar of the Spirit World in Pentecostalized Africa

The above-named workshop concerned with the significance of the Spirit World and ways of talking about it within the context of research on pentecostalized Africa will be held as part of the Programme Point Sud 2020 from 5 through 9 September 2020 at the University of Ghana, Accra.

The call for papers will be open for the submission of abstracts until 31 March 2020 and can be found here.

RCSD Project Report Presented

On 25 November 2019 the presentation of the Research Programme's conclusive report for its project on "Potentials of Cooperation with African Initiated Churches for Sustainable Development" took place on the premises of the Federal Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).

Following the pesentation, the findings were discussed by researchers and representatives of African Initiated Churches and developmental organisations and institutions.

Report "Potentials of Cooperation with African Initiated Churches for Sustainable Development" (German only)

Lecture Series African Independent and Pentecostal Approaches to Theology and Development

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The Research Programme RCSD of the Humboldt University Berlin held their anual Lecture Series "African Independent and Pentecostal Approaches to Theology and Development". Prominent Churchleaders from South Africa Uganda, Ghana und Kenia held lectures at the theological fakulty at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin:

  • His Grace the Right Rev. Bishop Dr. Barnabas E. Lekganyane (Zion Christian Church, Südafrika)
  • Rev. Olubunmi Olushola Monye (Redeemed Christian Church of God, Uganda)
  • Rev. Dr. Michael Perry Tettey (International Central Gospel Church, Ghana)
  • Apostle Mangaliso Matshobane (Community Church, Südafrika)
  • His Grace the Archbishop, Most. Rev. Stephen N. Marete (National Independent Church of Africa, Kenia)
  • Rev. Nicta Lubaale (Organization of African Instituted Churches, Kenia)

Click here for more Information 

Videos der Lecture Series 2019

His Grace the Right Rev. Bishop Dr. Barnabas E. Lekganyane gives a Lecture on "The Zion Christian Church: Praying for Peace in a Changing South African and Global Context".
For further Videos of the Lecture Series 2019 please click here

Please Note: all views and opinions that are voiced reflect the views and opinions of the individuals. They do not reflect the views and opinions of the Research Programme RCSD and Humboldt University Berlin.

International Conference Between Cosmology and Community: Religion and Sustainable Development

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The conference took place at Humboldt University Berlin from 02 to 06 July. We would like to thank all distinguished church leaders, researchers and participants again for their excellent contributions and the open and lively discussions that made this conference an unique experience of exchange.
Programme and further Informations
Impressions from the Conference can be found on Twitter with the Hashtag 

Reports on the opening lectures as well as on the thematic days on Equality and Ecology can be found here:

Internationale Konferenz Between Cosmology and Community: Religion and Sustainable Development - Panel Discussion

"Development Policy and Religion: What is the way forward?" - Panel Discussion at the Humboldt University Berlin in July 2019.

Chair: Gabriele Meister 

Nicta Lubaale:
General Secretary, Organization of African Instituted Churches

Reinhard Palm:
Head of Africa Department, Bread for the World

Michael Plesch:
Head of Division “Churches, Political Foundations, Social Structure Advancement Programmes, Religion & Development”, German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development

Claudia Zilla:
Head of Research Division "The Americas", Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik – German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

Please Note: all views and opinions that are voiced reflect the views and opinions of the individuals. They do not reflect the views and opinions of the Research Programme RCSD and Humboldt University zu Berlin.

European Conference on African Studies (ECAS)

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Marie-Luise Frost and Madlen Geidel orginized a Panel at the European Conference on African Studies (ECAS), from 11. until 14. June 2019. The Panel was held at the Centre of African Studies of the  University of Edinburgh, on the topic: "Continuities or disruptions? The role(s) of women in African Religions".

Permanent Panel on Religion and Development // 5th Joint Nordic Conference on Development Research (NorDev) in Kopenhagen, 27.-28. Juni 2019

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The submitted proposal from Philipp Öhlmann, Wilhelm Gräb, Marie-Luise Frost and Ignatius Swart (University of the Western Cape, Südafrika/VID Specialized University, Norwegen) for a Permanent Panel on Religion and Development was accepted by the Norwegian Assocation for Development Research (NFU). This Panel will be dedicatet to the tematics on Religion and Development at the Joint Nordic Development Research Conferences 2019 and 2021 aswell as the Norwegian Development Conference 2020 aus. Philipp Öhlmann, Marie-Luise Frost and Ignatius Swart moderated the first Panel at the 5th Joint Nordic Conference on Development Research (NorDev) in Kopenhagen from the 27. - 28. June.

International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD)
The Research Programme RCSD became a Member of the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD). PaRD is a international Forum for Exchange and Cooperation on the Topic ov Religion and Development. Philipp Öhlmann participated for the Research Programm at the annual Meeting for Members at the PaRD in Kopenhagen. 

GloPent international Conference

The eleventh international and interdisciplinary conference of the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (GloPent) will be held on 14–15 February 2020 at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

This call for papers invites contributions to our parallel panels. We are particularly interested in presentations that study concepts, strategies and agendas of how Pentecostals shape public spheres. Papers may present case studies or comparative analyses of Pentecostal strategies of public engagement. What are peculiar issues, themes, and areas of Pentecostal public engagement? How do Pentecostal communication, network and support structures look like in specific contexts? Last but not least: what are the limits of Pentecostal theo-political imaginations, and who are opponents of Pentecostal strategies to direct and redirect of public opinion making?

Proposals of entire panels or individual papers from current research on a different aspect of Pentecostal Christianity are also welcome, but we advise to contact the conference organiser before submitting your abstract.

Submission deadline for abstracts30th September 2019 (300 words max/send to Anna Kühleis: anna.kuehleis@unibas.ch)

Colloquium fo the Reschearch Programme RCSD
On the  3. of May 2019 the Research Programm held its colloquium. 

Collaboratativ Research with the University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Within the interdisciplinary research seminar (Q-Kolleg) "Religion and sustainable development. Interdisciplinary approaches to the study of an emerging research field" Students, reisten Studierende, Postgraduates ans Researchers from RCSD traveld to South Africa. With our Partner, the  University of Pretoria, we discussed current research Topics from the 27. to the 31. of January 2019. Read the Report