Dr Jonathan Jong, Deputy Director of the Belief, Brain, and Behaviour Research Group; Dr Krishna Kotra, Science Programme Coordinator and Prof. Harvey Whitehouse, Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology with students after the seminar.
The University of South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus in Port Vila, Vanuatu organised a seminar presentation by Professor Harvey Whitehouse, Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology and Dr Jonathan Jong, Deputy Director of the Belief, Brain, and Behaviour research group from the University of Oxford on 26th September, 2017 for students and staff.
Mr Ruben Markward, Emalus Campus Group Manager welcomed the research team and assured full support for research activities involving students and staff on campus. He shared his experiences on the proposed research study and reaffirmed his personal support.
Dr Krishna Kotra, Science Programme Coordinator briefed the visiting academics on the role of the University in the South Pacific region.
“Our aim is to see that USP, besides being an academic excellence institute of the Pacific, is also a research incubator for students,” Dr Kotra stated.
He said the University provides both theoretical and practical knowledge simultaneously, which is the reason USP graduates are being absorbed into the job market.
Professor Whitehouse of Oxford University shared his ideas about the differences between daily or weekly rituals that bind huge groups together.
These include many Christian denominations found in Vanuatu, and the more infrequent but emotionally intense rituals that were once common in small-scale traditional cultures in this part of the world, which can still be found on some islands like Tanna and Pentecost.
Dr Jonathan Jong described their efforts to explore the relationship between religious and moral beliefs around the world.
Both Whitehouse and Jong argued that the knowledge and experience of religion and ritual among the people in Vanuatu contain important lessons for humanity at large.
They were looking for collaborators and research assistants to join them in their quest to investigate this topic and help them bring their findings to global audiences.
It was mutually agreed that staff and students of USP would be part of Oxford’s research works in the country.
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