On 26th April, Southlands College hosted a one-day international conference, facilitated by the Susanna Wesley Foundation, entitled ‘Transforming Lives to Shape a Just Society: Values-Based Higher Education’.
This event, attended by over 100 delegates, formed the first part of a three-part series of conferences on Methodist Education designed in collaboration with Methodist Schools UK and IAMSCU (International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities), with subsequent events in the series in Bristol, at Kingswood School, Bath, and at Wesley House, Cambridge.
During the Roehampton event, we heard from a range of educational leaders from across the globe, each addressing the interplay of examining underpinning values, shaping effective practices and crafting hopeful futures.
To begin, Dr Fayneese Miller described her frontline leadership around issues of race, activism and gender as President of Hamline University, USA. Dr Florita Miranda presented the values and practices of the Wesleyan College of Manila, Philippines, where she is President. In plenary sessions later in the day, we witnessed Prof Dr Tink Tinker in important conversation with The Revd Dr Thomas Wolfe, as he addressed historical colonial abuses by the church whose ripples continue to be felt and addressed at Iliff School of Theology, USA. To close we heard from The Revd Prof Dr Young Min Paik of Yonsei University (South Korea) who provided an introduction to postcolonial Minjung theology, from The Revd Dr Júlio André Vilanculos on the context in Mozambique, and from Bishop Rosemarie Wenner regarding the World Methodist Council.
In breakout sessions, smaller groups explored intercultural values, ethical investments, human rights, and sustainable development goals. In one breakout session, the Southlands College team gave their perspectives on what Methodist education means at Southlands, while in another, colleagues Dr Michał Garapich and Dr Melissa Jogie joined with Dr Liz Bounds from Emory University to explore ‘Learning Inside and Outside’, drawing on their innovative teaching, including with the homeless and in prisons.
After the conference, guests attended a conference dinner with a musical performance from Roehampton student Jordan de Vries, who performed Franz Liszt, Liebestraum No 3 on piano, and a dramatic monologue, in which actor Cathy Walker brought Susanna Wesley to life.
Thus through this international conference and the hospitality of Southlands College and the University of Roehampton, the facilitation of the Susanna Wesley Foundation and the support of the Southlands Methodist Trust, we offered a unique opportunity to meet and learn from colleagues from around the world.
To read more about this conference and the connected events in Bristol/Bath and Wesley House, Cambridge, you can read the Conference Handbook here, which was designed by Emma Pavey at the Susanna Wesley Foundation.
Photos by Robin Prime and Kimberly Lord. (c) 2023