News Release from the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology
On the Occasion of the Official Inaugural Ceremony of PhD Programme
The Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology, EGST, in partnership with Vrije Universität Amsterdam (VUA) announced an inaugural ceremony of a joint PhD programme to be held on October 7, 2017 in Addis Ababa, at the EGST Auditorium.
In an invitation letter sent to members of EGST community and partners, EGST Director, Dr. Misgana Mathewos, expressed his joy by remarking that “EGST is making an historic new beginning as an institution of higher learning in Ethiopia”.
“In partnership with Vrije Universität Amsterdam, we are launching a PhD programme that welcomes applicants in biblical studies, theology, church history, Islamic studies, and related fields”, Dr. Misgana stated. He further noted his delight “to cofound this unprecedented PhD programme in Ethiopia and trust that it will make a rich contribution to the flourishing of Ethiopian scholarship, church, and society”.
Representatives of VUA, Prof.Dr Joke W.Van Saane (Vice-Dean) and Dr Arie Zwiep (Director of the Graduate School) who arrived in Addis Addis Ababa for the inaugural ceremony expressed their enthusiasm about this partnership and their commitment to make this partnership fruitful for both institutions.
The inauguration ceremony includes messages from EGST and VUA, presentation on the prospectus of the PhD, sermon, remarks from the PhD Programme Coordinator as well as inauguration and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Former EGST Director (2008-2015), Dr. Desta Heliso, is appointed as Coordinator of the PhD Centre which interfaces with EGST, VU and other partners. Dr. Desta Heliso has been appointed as Coordinator of the PhD Programme and Centre for Ancient Christianity and Ethiopian Studies at EGST. He has assumed this role as of 15 September 2017. Dr. Desta is mandated to develop and manage both programmes and, therefore, he would correspond with friends and partners of EGST in this capacity. The Director called for support and cooperation to Dr. Desta from EGST administration.
It was recalled that both EGST and VUA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Dec 17, 2014, and entered an agreement for the Plan of Operation in March 2016 which led to the validation of EGST Masters programmes by VUA and the launch of the PhD programme. The scope of the collaboration includes research and teaching in theology and religious studies on ways in which EGST can raise its academic standards to an international level and provides the opportunity to PhD students of EGST to obtain their doctoral degree through VUA at the Faculty of Theology of VUA.
According to the Plan of Operations, “suitably qualified students from EGST who have completed an eligible Master’s programme and wish to undertake PhD studies, may apply through EGST to VUA” and those who meet the requirements will be admitted to the PhD Programme at VUA, get membership in the faculty’s Graduate School and receive supervisors including one recognized co-supervisor from EGST.
PhD students are subject to the doctoral regulations of VUA and they will defend their dissertation at VUA.
According to VU recent news sources, the faculty of Theology at VUA has been ranked the 7th best in the world in 2017 world university QS ranking.
In addition to the ongoing graduate programs already running, the launch of the PhD program contributes by producing Christian leaders of academic and spiritual integrity who have the skills for advanced theological thinking and teaching in Ethiopia and beyond.
As doctoral studies abroad are very expensive, starting the PhD program at EGST is highly cost effective. This will be three times more cost effective and convenient, as opposed to the high cost of education abroad and the hurdle of moving and/or leaving family from their setting.
The PhD program is a research-based program patterned on the Stage/Level 3 academic award as set out in the Bologna Process within European Higher Education.
The program will serve its local context by reflecting key approaches in Ethiopian learning culture including – respect for tradition, value for oral tradition and story-telling, preservation of ancient literature, respect for original languages, points of correspondence between the biblical world and local culture and social practice, twenty centuries of indigenous theology and church practice not strongly shaped by colonial influence , and the unique place Ethiopia and Ethiopian Christianity holds as a bridge between Africa and the Middle East.
Full-time students are expected to finish their study in 3-4 years, and part-time students in 5-7 years. Full-time students are expected to give around 40 hours per week to their studies, and part-time students 20 hours per week.
As a spring board for the starting of the program, EGST already established a Master of Theology (MTh) Research Centre in 2015, both to strengthen the MTh program as well as prepare the students for PhD. The PhD study Centre is a distinct unit housed within the EGST Academic and Administration building in a way it meets the international standards. It will be equipped with materials and equipment, and internet access to facilitate online research, access to a PhD level library and a lounge where the PhD students can take a break, meet with their fellow research students and discuss and debate on various issues related to their research. Through these combined facilities, the centre will create an environment for original thinking, ecumenical dialogue and research culture. Students will also have access to the other facilities available at EGST.
EGST will accept six to ten PhD students who will start their studies in 2017/18 academic year out of which EGST intends to offer scholarship support to some selected students. The scholarship support will be available through a competitive application process based on merit and need. The rest of the students are expected to find support from their sending institutions, churches, local Christian organizations and friends.
Full-time students are expected to be in residency (i.e. within an easily accessible location of Addis Ababa) throughout the duration of their program, and be available for regular meetings with supervisors, seminar attendance, and regular participation in the EGST learning community.
In keeping up with international standards as well as contextual relevance, external Research Residency is expected in the second or third years of the program. Students will go on research leave that require their physical presence at the VUA. Otherwise, the students will be stationed at EGST for most of their studies.
(EGST PR, October 6, 2017 Addis Ababa)