DEI, Ecumenical Research Department
The Ecumenical Research and Training Centre "Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones" (DEI) in San José, Costa Rica, works in the fields of education, research and publications. The starting point is the conviction that theology must be in exchange with other fields of knowledge. The seminars deal with interdisciplinary questions from theology, economics, environmental and social sciences. The DEI is aimed at members of church and non-church grassroots groups and provides them with skills through which they can actively participate in social change processes.
In Latin America, the liberation theology movement in the 1960s formulated the demand for a church that works for the poor and for those excluded from society. This idea was extended at the end of the 20th century to women, indigenous and Afro-American groups, small farmers and the landless. Liberation-theologically oriented circles of the church showed solidarity with the social movements and shared the conviction: Theology should not only deal with the Bible and the church, but must be in a living exchange with the everyday challenges of the people, as well as in an interdisciplinary dialogue with sociology, economics and anthropology. This is where the work of DEI comes in: The organisation engages with members of church-based grassroots groups who are active in the indigenous, youth or landless movements, in peasant protests or in the movement critical of globalisation. In doing so, DEI takes into account the political and ethical challenges in the face of the impoverished and marginalised majority of the population in Central and South America. The pandemic-related global sanitary emergency prompted DEI to open its premises in April 2020 to around 40 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and to offer its courses online. This also marked the beginning of a new work at Casa DEI. In addition to basic care: Food and accommodation, as well as accompaniment in migration and health procedures, the DEI provided psychosocial accompaniment with the help of a new specialist and educated the approximately 40 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers under strict hygiene precautions in human rights and spirituality issues, or supported them in finding work and online school (children). In the new programme phase 2022-2025, in addition to the courses in Bible reading, the DEI will convert the CASA DEI into a refuge for (politically) persecuted human rights defenders and environmental activists.