Original Research - Special Collection: Yolanda Dreyer Festschrift

‘A tale of two cities’: The evolution of the International Academy of Practical Theology

Bonnie J. Miller-Mclemore
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 4 | a4718 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i4.4718 | © 2017 Bonnie J. Miller-Mclemore | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 June 2017 | Published: 25 October 2017

About the author(s)

Bonnie J. Miller-Mclemore, The Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion, Vanderbilt University, United States and Department Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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This essay appraises the history of the International Academy of Practical Theology (IAPT), arguing that competing aims have pulled it in different directions. The essay arose initially out of a roundtable on IAPT at an international congress in São Leopoldo, Brazil, in preparation for the next biennial conference there in 2019. Why is there a need for the IAPT? What are some of its developments? Why is it important for South America and Brazil? In response, the essay suggests that the IAPT has struggled to sustain at least two prominent commitments – a desire to enhance practical theology’s scholarly visibility and acumen and a real need to become a genuinely international organisation in terms of representation and inclusion. A secondary argument woven through the essay is that collegial friendships across complicated differences of location and perspective have the capacity to moderate and even heal conflicts.


practical theology; history; learned societies; academic discipline; scholarly status; politics; diversity; inclusivity; context; colonialism; International Academy of Practical Theology (IAPT)


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