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Towards multicultural learning: 'A fellowship of the unlike'

Cathy Ross, Cuddesdon

Initial Description

The project will track the first year of Cuddesdon/CMS's African Diaspora route through the MA, with a particular focus on the dynamics of the two MA programmes running alongside each other and integrating together.  The two programmes are the longstanding Pioneer MA which we have taught for ten years now and our newly approved MA with an African Diaspora focus.

Given our commitment to being a multicultural learning environment, particular attention will be given to the patterns of mutual and reciprocal learning.  It will also be an opportunity to reflect on and process the inevitable issues which will arise when introducing new learning paths and the challenges which arise in inter-cultural settings.

We are aware of the work from the recent report, From Lament to Action, with its implementation action timetable and its appeal to the “urgency of now.”  We are committed to increased participation in both our teaching and student body.  We want to foster honest conversations and create a conducive environment for formative learning in a multicultural context.  Part of this process will include an audit of our ethnic diversity, (facilitated by our Ethnicity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee at CMS) across teachers and students. In his book After Whiteness, An Education in Belonging Willie James Jennings offers eros and the crowd as two metaphors for moving beyond whiteness and sharing our lives together.  Jennings believes that theological education “has as its fundamental resource erotic power, and that power finds its home in the divine ecstasy in which God relentlessly gives Godself to us, joyfully opening the divine life as our habitation.” (Jennings, After Whiteness, An Education in Belonging, (Eerdmans:Grand Rapids, 2020) However, this is power that we can enter only through participation.  Harvey Kwiyani affirms this in his latest book, Multicultural Kingdom, where he argues that diversity is a blessing. “God gives us gifts in the form of the different other who comes bearing some of what we need to thrive.  It is God who brings us together.  Diversity is God’s gift to us.  What matters is what we do next." (Kwiyani, Multicultural Kingdom, Ethnic Diversity, Mission and the Church, (London:SCM, 2020), p.106). What we want to do next is bring together diverse students in a shared space to learn together.  We believe that it does come down to eros and the crowd; that embodied passion and energy to learn, shared living spaces, life together – in all its complexity, misunderstandings, defensiveness and pain as well as in our joys, celebrations, parties and friendships -  participating in actual learning spaces together. 


See the Project Report: Ross report