NWU academic’s visit to Romanian university highlights the power of academic exchange

Prof Fazel Freeks, an esteemed associate professor and coordinator of community engagement at the Faculty of Theology of the North-West University (NWU), embarked on an important visit to Ovidius University of Constanta in Romania for 14 days.

This visit highlighted the NWU’s core pillars: teaching and learning, research, and community engagement, making it a productive and inspiring journey.

Upon his arrival, Prof Freeks delivered an insightful address to the students of the Faculty of Theology at Ovidius University. “I shared insights from my research on fatherhood, father absence, and the role of fathers in the domestic domain, touching upon aspects of culture, religion and praxis,” he says.

His presentation, "A Fatherless South Africa and the Role of the Church: A Society Grappling with Father Absence," captivated the audience, fostering a vibrant discussion on these critical societal issues.

A notable highlight of his visit was his participation in the prestigious DIALOGO Conference, themed Science and Theology: Discrimination, Bias, and Repudiation, held from 20 to 28 May 2024. During the conference Prof Freeks presented his paper, "Advocating Family Well-Being in a Transforming and Broken World: A Practical and Eco-Theological Assessment." His presentation, published in the DIALOGO Journal in 2024, made a significant contribution to the ongoing academic discourse.

Community engagement formed another highlight of his visit. Prof Freeks visited the Comuna Ciobanu community, a town in Romania and delivered a presentation on community engagement from a South African perspective. His talk covered topics such as projects, programmes, initiatives, services, volunteering, service learning, engaged scholarship and community-based research.

He also shared a presentation with master's students from Ovidius University, educating them on the importance of community involvement.

“One of the primary objectives of my visit was to initiate the process of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Ovidius University of Constanta and the NWU’s Faculty of Theology,” Prof Freeks explains. He is optimistic that this initiative will come to fruition in 2024, paving the way for enhanced collaboration and exchange between the two esteemed institutions.

Reflecting on his visit, Prof Freeks describes it as an unforgettable and transformative journey that has left a lasting impact on his professional and personal growth. He extends his heartfelt gratitude to Bibi Bouwman, director for sustainability and community impact at NWU, whose unwavering support and resources were instrumental.

He also acknowledges Prof Lavinia Nadrag of Ovidius University for her exceptional guidance throughout his engagements and site visits, ensuring a comprehensive and enriching experience.

“This visit broadened my perspectives on academia, culture, religion, and international collaboration.”


Prof Freeks gave a lecture to the students of Prof Iona Dura of the Faculty of Theology of Ovidius University on the topic of fatherhood and father absence


He gave a presentation on Community Engagement from a South African perspective (NWU) to learners of the Comuna Ciobanu Community in Romania.


Submitted on Wed, 07/03/2024 - 11:49