Mediation Approach to the Dissemination of Scientific Understanding to Church Leaders in South Africa

  • TWCF Number:

    0116

  • Project Duration:

    March 1, 2015 - March 1, 2016

  • Core Funding Area:

    Big Questions

  • Region:

    Africa

  • Amount Awarded:

    $182,815

Director: Dr. Philip Douglas Calcott

Institution: African Enterprise

There exists a significant divide in South Africa between the church and scientific communities. This divide involves a lack of trust and an absence of effective communication. In this project, we will explore the effectiveness of a mediation approach in bridging this divide.

The effectiveness of mediation has been demonstrated in South Africa in the political arena. In the 90's African Enterprise (AE), led by Michael Cassidy, engaged in a significant mediation process that successfully brought together key players from across the political spectrum. We aim to explore whether similar mediation techniques can be successfully applied to the science/faith divide. Michael Cassidy will be involved in this project, as will eminent scientists experienced in the interaction of science and faith from South Africa and abroad. The central element of the project will be a series of three mediation events held in the Waterberg bushveld.

The core concept for these events will be building trust and relationship before discussion of controversial issues. The effectiveness of the mediation approach will be monitored quantitatively through the use of before and after questionnaires, and qualitatively via interviews. Additionally, the progress achieved in shifting entrenched attitudes will be followed up via a further event, based in Gauteng, and an online forum.  

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