Hekima Research Week, an event that offers students and faculty members an opportunity to share their research work over the last academic year is here again with us. The event which kicked off on Monday 23 rd October 2023 at Hekima University College Undergraduate Campus on Joseph Kangethe Road and will conclude on Friday 27 th October is being held under the theme: The Church’s Synodal Journey, Peace and Sustainability in Africa, and the Theological Implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
According to HUC Principal Rev. Dr. Marcel Uwineza, SJ, this event is an opportunity for both students and faculty to reflect and speak out on the subject. Dr. Uwineza reiterated the fact that at the heart of any serious academic institution, research, teaching, and publications are mandatory and HUC offers a good ground to all. He pointed out that as one does research, one enters into conversation with others and this challenges their
narrow views by broadening their perspectives thus one gets invited to work on their blind spots. “There is more to scholarship than sitting in class and reading required articles. We want to hear your voice. Remember that those who are part of a symphony orchestra rehearse for several hours in order to perfect their voices. This research week is also a training ground for you to develop your voice,” Dr. Uwineza expressed. As is the tradition of HUC, the first day of Hekima Research Week is usually dedicated to faculty members. Among those who presented their papers included Rev. Dr. Dominic Tomuseni, SJ who spoke about the Seminary Formation for a Synodal Church. Dr. Tomuseni in his presentation explored ways in which the seminary formation can be made to correspond with the call for a synodality. He said that universities need to come to the seminaries and not vice versa with regard to bringing in other disciplines. With regards to seminaries opening up to other qualified individuals, Dr. Tomuseni noted that everyone is welcome but they have to respect the traditions of the place. A guest presenter Dr. Raymond Pierre, the director of Hurley Center Durban South Africa who participated virtually presented on the Synodal Catholic before Synodality: A Case Study from the South African Church.
He emphasized the need to listen to all voices in the Church especially those of the lay people who are part and parcel of the Church. Talking about the activity of the center he runs, Dr. Raymond pointed out that feeding the homeless people is a way of building trust with them although he believes that the center can do more to help agitate for solutions that led to people being homeless, "talk of making the road to Jericho safe so that people do not encounter danger besides helping the wounded on the road to Jericho." Mr. Hezbon Awiti the program officer at Hekima Center for Research Training and Publication (CRTP) presented “Conflict Monitoring Tool in Africa for Strategic Intervention: A Case of DRC, Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan".
The last presentation for the day came from Dr. Anthony Egan, SJ on “Do Androids Dream of Electronic Votes? AI, Democracy, and Non-Human Rights”. Dr. Egan posed the question, what will happen to society, politics, and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves? He noted that sentient which means the ability to experience feelings and sensations is a reality and that is why we shouldn't perhaps be talking about human rights because this is only limited to humans, rather we should be talking about sentient rights!
The faculty members' day of Hekima Research Week 2023-2024 has seen very intriguing discussions that certainly prick the consciousness and beg for more debate. The discussions continue.
By Pamela Adinda, HUC Communications, and International Office Coordinator