Consortium of:

Cooperation Between ICRS and The United Board: ICRS Alumni and Student Perspective

  August 31st 2021

Since the early years of the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies, the United Board has been one of the first institutional partners to provide consistent support for the journey and development of the consortium. Even after 15 years, the United Board continues to provide support in various forms for the development of higher education, especially in relation to inter-religious studies and relations in academia and society. This is in line with the mission of the United Board, namely to draw strength from Christian identity and values in building collaboration with Asian colleges and universities, preparing individuals for lives of professional and personal fulfillment and meaningful service in the community with others. The United Board is also committed to education that develops the whole person—intellectually, spiritually, and ethically. Current ICRS students and several alumni have benefitted from the United Board's vision and mission. These include Dr. Fransiskus Borgias, MA. And Dr. Yohanes Slamet Purwadi, both lecturers at Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung. There is also Dr. Yoachim Agus Tridiatno who is a lecturer at Atma Jaya University Yogyakarta, Dr. Leonard C. Epafras, lecturer at the Faculty of Theology, Duta Wacana Christian University and Core Doctoral Faculty at ICRS, and Roy Vettikuzhiyil Joseph, a Ph.D. student at ICRS and lecturer at the Faculty of Philosophy at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore.

The following are testimonies from two United Board scholarship awardees sharing their experience and gratitude on behalf of themselves and other ICRS recipients. The first one is Dr. Leonard C. Epafras, ICRS alumni from the 2007 batch. Epafras argues that the United Board is one of the most important institutions in the development of ICRS because from the beginning the United Board has dared to trust in the vision of ICRS and be faithful in supporting the work and its students in various forms. Epafras also said that, personally, he really felt the benefits of the United Board's assistance to the ICRS as one of the recipients of a United Board scholarship. In his case, the scholarship generously provided for tuition, living costs, and book fees. In addition, Epafras had the opportunity to take part in the Institute for Advanced Study in Asian Cultures and Theologies (IASACT) program in Hong Kong organized by the United Board. Epafras is very grateful and proud to have received a scholarship from the United Board to continue his studies at ICRS, because the two institutions, ICRS and the United Board, have played a large role in his self-development and opened up opportunities to develop his academic career.

The second awardee is Roy Vettikuzhiyil Joseph, a Catholic Priest and lecturer at the Faculty of Philosophy at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore. Father Roy Joseph is an ICRS student from batch 2017. He explains that his study in ICRS is only possible due to the generosity of the United Board. He applied for the scholarship in 2015 and was accepted as an awardee of the United Board scholarship in 2016, but due to visa issues, he was not able to attend lectures at ICRS until 2017. The Board allowed him to delay his studies and continue to support him. Father Roy is also impressed with the inclusiveness of the United Board. Ecumenical and inclusive, the United Board supports selected faculty scholars from institutions in its network, which includes Christian, Catholic and a few state universities that share a commitment to whole person education.

In the scholarship selection process, Father Roy also saw that the United Board was very selective and paid attention to various aspects of the candidate, such as background, work or teaching experience, research topics and their relevance, and commitment to completing studies. In this case, the United Board requires prospective scholarship recipients to choose a campus in Asia and ICRS is worthy destination, because, according to Father Roy, ICRS and the United Board share a vision to develop studies related to issues of diversity and interreligious relations and dialogue. Like Epafras, Father Roy remarked that his study at ICRS was only possible because of the generosity of the United Board. Roy shared that the United Board does not only provide financial assistance, but from time to time, the United Board communicates with the awardees, asking about the progress of their studies, the difficulties they face, and the timeline for completing their studies. In this show of concern and encouragement, Father Roy feels that the United Board has truly become a family that cares and wholeheartedly supports the journey and completion of his studies.