Photo: ICRS New Students and ICRS Management
On September 11, 2020, the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies happily welcomed six new students to an online orientation event for entering students. This semester, there are six students drawing from various backgrounds, occupations, and religions, therein further increasing the diversity of the student body of ICRS. The six students are: Daniel Sutami Putra, who comes from Jakarta and has been working as a researcher; the second is Eric David Coblentz, a social worker from the United States; the third is Fransiska Yohana Sri Winarsih, a Catholic lecturer and nun from Yogyakarta; the fourth is Jesada Buaban from Thailand; the fifth is Nabiollah Masoumi, a businessman from Bulgaria; and the sixth is Selfitriani Kulla, a lecturer at the Central Sulawesi Christian Church Theological College, Tentena.
The online new student orientation was attended by the Director of ICRS, Dr. Zainal Abidin Bagir, Associate Director Dr. Fatimah Hussein, Drs. Dicky Sofjan and Leonard C. Epafras as core doctoral faculty at ICRS, Prof. Michael Northcott as Professor of Religion and Ecology at ICRS, as well as several ICRS staff members. The purpose of this meeting was to provide opportunities for students and ICRS faculty to introduce themselves to one another in order to begin developing relationships to support the educational journey of ICRS students. The orientation also familiarized students with the requirements for completing their degree at ICRS.
Greetings and introductions began with the ICRS Director Bagir sharing about the history of ICRS and its establishment as a study program supported by a consortium of three universities in Yogyakarta, namely Universitas Gadjah Mada, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, and Duta Wacana Christian University. The cooperative nature of the program provides ICRS with a rich perspective in conducting studies on religious life, one which looks broadly at religious issues from a sociological perspective. Dr. Fatimah Hussein detailed the coursework requirements equating to two semesters of in-residence study at ICRS. A benefit of the consortium model, ICRS affords students the opportunity to attend lectures at any of the partner universities and receive ICRS credit. In addition to these campuses being open to ICRS students, ICRS brings together a diverse group of lecturers from these universities. This allows students to choose from a wide selection of courses that are relevant to their research and study interests.
Prof. Michael Northcott explained that in the second semester students will receive a research method course which helps to prepare students for their dissertation research. Northcott reminded participants of the need to prepare topics and research proposals early as to not waste the limited time they have for completing their Ph.D. Dr. Leonard C. Epafras expanded on the major clusters of courses at ICRS which are divided into several parts: hermeneutic history of religions, religion and contemporary issues, theories of religion and society. Dr. Dicky Sofjan shared several research areas that are developing at ICRS, including those related to human dignity, religion and COVID-19, religion and health, sustainable and smart urban living, religious freedom and harmony in Indonesia, religious literacy for promoting religious harmony. and multiculturalism. Sofjan also explained the collaborative work carried out by ICRS with various Indonesian government ministries, several foreign embassies, and various well-known universities around the world who have become partners with ICRS. Each of these offer opportunities for students to develop themselves, their studies, and their future careers.