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Common approach to important issues: Lecture series comes to an end

(c) Dr. Lars Charbonnier

The question of the importance of religion and religions in various socio-cultural contexts is one of the themes addressed by the scientific network made up of the South African Universities of KwaZulu-Natal and Stellenbosch with the Humboldt University in Berlin. The public lecture series "Religion and Human Rights" at the Humboldt University in Berlin that ended 11 February 2013 with a talk by Dr Hans Joas from the Albrecht Ludwigs University Freiburg showcased to the public how productive cooperation between the three universities had been in research and teaching and the potential of future cooperation. Lecturers included teachers from Germany and South Africa with teachers from the South African partner universities holding the majority of lectures.

Was it only possible for human rights to emerge from the context of Christian faith? The sociologist and cultural scientist, Dr Hans Joas, answered this question with a definitive no. His talk marked the end of a successful public lecture series on "Religion and Human Rights".

More than 120 people, students and interested people of all ages from Berlin listened to the lecture and the exciting discussion that followed in the Senate Hall of the Humboldt University in Berlin (HUB) in February 2013. "The growing number of people in attendance and the stimulating discussions after the lectures clearly show how relevant the issue of the relationship between religion and human rights is today in our globalised world," summed up Dr Wilhelm Gräb, who was responsible for the lecture series and worked together with Dr Lars Charbonnier to organise and hold the events.

As a practical theologian, Dr Gräb is responsible for, among other things, introducing the degree programme "Religion and Culture" in the Theology Department at the HUB in cooperation with the Theology Department in Stellenbosch. At the talk he himself gave two weeks previously at the Theology Department, he suggested that the declaration on human rights had the potential to serve as the confessional basis for a universal religion thus stimulating a multifaceted discussion. The lecture series opened with a talk by Prof. Wolfgang Huber entitled "Human Rights and Globalisation" in October. Other lectures were given by scientists from South Africa including "HIV/AIDS as a Human Right Challenge" or "Human Rights and socio-economic exclusion?". The lectures will be published soon.