Much humility underscores this report on the Research and Development Department at AICS. This caveat could come across as copping out from the vast potential as suggested by the descriptive title. Rather, humility draws on the realization that a department such as this relies not on one person—it is a cooperative ensemble of people engaged in multiple and disparate facets that “research” and “development” suggest.
The previous academic year (2020-2021) will remain etched in memory especially for all who were engaged in any way to an academic program. Pandemic conditions meant quarantines and lockdowns. With movement strictly restricted and on-campus activity curtailed, self-imposed isolation reduced much of the department’s activity to coordinating with colleagues all holed up in isolation. Even our interactive forum, the Faculty-Student Seminars had to be on hold for the academic session because of various logistical challenges compounded by the pandemic.
Despite these challenges, the department published an important booklet authored by the Rev. Dr. H. Lalthlamuana entitled Covid-19 Hmachhawnna: Mimal, KohhranlehKhawtlang Tan (2020). The booklet aggregates data and information regarding the current pandemic and juxtaposed them with pastoral insights. Published in Mizo, this booklet will be an important resource for critical reflection for the church as it engages this pandemic situation and its continuing effects.
A signature series put out by the department is the AICS Journal. As an annual and collaborative effort, I would be remiss to not recognize the work each contributor puts to string together their thoughts on up-to-date theological reflections. With only two editions out, there is much to learn both as content and as process. As content, the AICS Journal solicits your manuscript for publication. As process, we welcome your suggestions on how we could do better—from soliciting manuscripts to when the reader gets a physical copy, and everything in between.
This Department exists primarily to encourage and facilitate both members of the faculty and the student body to engage in research. Our publications are just an aspect of this larger purpose. The Department provides workshops on research methods and pertinent issues especially for the M.Th. classes. Students are also provided intellectual support through verbal helplines that connect them with relevant expertise on the faculty. Additionally, the Department provides three (3) AICS Research Grants, and two (2) AICS Book Review Grants to incentivize and facilitate faculty members to make progress on their research agendas.
Much of the pause in the Department’s undertaking this academic year can be swept under the rug of pandemic-related conditions. Moving forward will depend not so much on how good we can sweep but on how we adapt and evolve in the face of lockdowns and isolation. To that end, the Department is indebted to the Theological Education Committee of the Baptist Church of Mizoram for its continuing support and trust invested in our undertaking.
As your Dean, I look forward with much anticipation on your ideas, suggestions and participation on things we need and can learn about our world refracted through the lens of our faith.