Certificate in Religion and Public Life

The Certificate in Religion and Public Life (CRPL) is designed to prepare MDiv and MTS students with the tools, skills, and experience to explore professional pathways outside of traditional ministry or academic scholarship. Through the CRPL, students explore the challenges and opportunities that arise when a nuanced understanding of religion is employed within a particular professional or vocational arena of focus.

Upon completion, candidates will earn a Certificate in Religion and Public Life in one of the following areas of concentration: Education, Government, Journalism, Humanitarian Action, Media and Entertainment, Community Organizing.

Earning Your Certificate

To meet the certificate requirements, over the course of two years MTS and MDiv students must

  • Complete all MTS or MDiv degree requirements
  • Complete the two certificate courses with at least a B grade
  • Complete an approved internship
  • Complete a final project

Certificate Courses

  • HDS 3300 Religious Literacy and the Professions (Only offered fall semesters. Students focus on one profession and one issue represented by the RLPI Fellows.)
  • Certificate in Religion and Public Life Capstone Seminar (Register for spring semester before graduation. Includes completing a final project relevant to the student’s certificate focus and in consultation with a project advisor.)

Internship in Area of Concentration

The CRPL internship requires 280 hours of work and can be fulfilled as follows:

  • Full-time summer placement (35 hours per week for 8 weeks)
  • Extended part-time placement (10 hours per week for 28 weeks)

Begin searching for an internship as early as possible. To secure an internship, students should

  • Refer to the CRPL Student Handbook (PDF) to learn about internship requirements and RPL accredited placement options.
  • Contact RPL staff about current, approved internship sites.
  • Consult with RPL Professional Fellows who can advise and mentor, and in some cases help broker internship opportunities relevant to a student’s interests and skill.
  • Work with the RLPI Associate Director to identify options available through other Harvard schools (HKS, HSPH, GSE, GSD) or the student’s own connections.
  • Contact site supervisors and begin the process of securing a placement contract.
  • Internships must be funded. Apply for a stipend if the site does not provide funding.
  • Submit placement proposal to RPL Faculty Director for review by the deadline. Proposals must be approved prior to applying for funding.

Note: A Field Education placement or other internship may meet the CRPL internship requirement. Consult with the Associate Director of Religious Literacy and the Professions for information on which internships qualify and the requirements to fulfill both simultaneously.

Possible Two-Year Timelines

Requesting the Certificate

Students will apply for the CRPL to the RPL Faculty Director and the Registrar in the spring semester of their final year upon successful completion of all requirements. The responsibility for applying for the CRPL rests with the student and must be made no later than the end of the final examination period of the spring semester. The Faculty Director of the RPL and the Registrar will verify that requirements have been fulfilled. The Registrar will post receipt of the Certificate on the student’s transcript.

*See the CRPL Student Handbook (PDF) for further information on internships and compensation.

Meet the 2021-2022 CRPL Fellows


LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant, PhD, is Professor of Africana Studies at Williams College and founder of ConjureGirlBlue Productions. A proud native of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, Rhon navigates the academy as a scholar-artist, where she merges her life as a thinker, musician, and filmmaker. She is the author of multiple academic books, public-facing writing, and films including Talking to the Dead: Religion, Music, and Lived Memory among Gullah/Geechee Women (2014) and the award-winning documentary short “death. everything. nothing” (2020).


CYNTHIA WILSON: RPL Native and Indigenous Rights Fellow

Cynthia Wilson is a tribal member of the Navajo Nation, born and raised in Monument Valley, UT. She is of the Folded Arms People clan and born for the Towering House clan. Cynthia holds a MS in Nutrition from the University of Utah. She serves as the Traditional Foods Program Director for Utah Diné Bikéyah, a native-led nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve and protect the cultural and natural resources of ancestral lands. She is also a founding member of the Women of Bears Ears initiative. Her work encompasses traditional knowledge that addresses the environmental, cultural, nutritional and spiritual health of the land and the people.


DEBORAH JIAN LEE: RPL Journalism Fellow 

Deborah Jian Lee is an award-winning journalist, radio producer, and author of Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism. She is an editor and reporter at The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a nonprofit journalism organization supporting independent journalists covering economic inequality in America. She has worked as a staff reporter for the Associated Press, taught journalism at Columbia University, and contributed to Foreign Policy, Slate, Playboy, TIME, WBEZ, WNYC and many others. She was named a finalist for the Livingston Awards and won a Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page Award.


TERESA CAVAZOS COHN: RPL Climate Change Fellow

Teresa Cavazos Cohn, PhD, is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Society at the University of Idaho and a co-founder of the interdisciplinary Confluence Lab. She is a human geographer and science communicator who specializes in water and hydrosocial relations with emphasis on Indigenous waters, and human dimensions of wildfire. Her research and outreach projects have been supported by the National Science Foundation, Andrew J. Mellon Foundation, NASA, and Milkweed Press.


ÁLVARO HUERTA: RPL Organizing Fellow

Álvaro Huerta, PhD, is an Associate Professor in Urban & Region Planning (URP) and Ethnic & Women’s Studies (EWS) at California State Polytechnic University. He researches the intersecting domains of urban planning, Chicana/o-Latina/o studies, immigration, religion, social movements, social networks, and the informal economy. Huerta is also the author of the award-winning book, Latina/o Immigrant Communities in the Xenophobic Era of Trump and Beyond (2019). Huerta has received numerous awards for his social/racial justice and civic engagement, such as the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning’s 2016 Edward Blakely Award and the American Planning Association’s 2011 National Planning Leadership Award. 



Sarabinh Levy-Brightman has worked with Religious Literacy Project (RLP) and Religion and Public Life (RPL) since 2016. Levy-Brightman served as the initial Coordinator of the Religious Literacy and the Professions Initiative and then as the RLP Senior Fellow for Curriculum and Workshop Development. Prior to the RLP, she was a high school humanities teacher. Her expertise is integrating the academic study of religion into the humanities in public and private schools. Sarabinh holds an MDiv from HDS, an MA from The Divinity School of the University of Chicago, and a BA in History and Religion from Vassar College.


MIKE DELANEY: RPL Humanitarian Action Fellow

Michael Delaney has worked in international development and humanitarian response for his entire career. During his 25 years with Oxfam America, he led humanitarian emergency responses for some of the largest scale disasters of this century. Delaney champions the primacy of local community involvement on both long-term development projects and emergency response programs, advocating that the voices of those affected by disasters are included in the design, implementation, and evaluation of emergency response. Delaney was also Executive Director of Perkins International and founded Crescendo International in response to the increasing demand for humanitarian action from the intensified climate crisis and global conflict.



Karilyn Crockett, PhD, served as the Chief Equity Officer for the City of Boston under the Walsh administration and holds a PhD from the American Studies program at Yale University, a Master of Science in Geography from the London School of Economics, and a Master of Arts and Religion from Yale Divinity School. Crockett’s research focuses on large-scale land use changes in twentieth century American cities and examines the social and geographic implications of structural poverty and race. In 2019, her book People before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making was named one of the “ten best books of the decade” by the Boston Public Library Association of Librarians. Crockett also co-founded Multicultural Youth Tour of What's Now (MYTOWN), an award winning, Boston-based, educational non-profit organization.


MAYTHA ALHASSEN: RPL Media and Entertainment Fellow

Maytha Alhassen, PhD, is a historian, TV writer + producer, journalist, social justice organizer, and mending practitioner. Alhassen was an on-air host for Al Jazeera English and TYT, and did field reporting for such outlets as CNN and Huffington Post. She co-edited Demanding Dignity: Young Voices from the Front Lines of the Arab Revolutions and wrote Haqq and Hollywood: Illuminating 100 Years of Muslim Tropes and How to Transform Them. In 2017, Alhassen was awarded a TED residency that culminated in the TED talk “A Poem for Syria: Beyond a Geography of Violence” about her ancestral relationship to Syria and work with displaced communities in the region. Currently, Alhassen produces and writes for Golden Globe and Peabody-winning Hulu series Ramy and serves as an Executive Producer for the upcoming docuseries American Muslims: A History Revealed. 


PHIL TORREY: RPL Immigration and Refugee Fellow

Philip L. Torrey is the Director of the Harvard Law School Crimmigration Clinic, the Managing Attorney of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, and a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. Torrey’s research includes the immigration system’s mandatory detention regime, the private prison industry, and the crime-based grounds of removal. His scholarship has been published in law journals, practitioner guides, and online fora including the Harvard Law Review, Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Harvard Latinx Law Review, Immigration and Nationality Law Review, Harvard Law Review for Civil Rights-Civil Liberties, and the Harvard Law and Policy Review. He is also frequently cited in media outlets like the Washington Post, Boston Globe, U.S. News and World Report, Huffington Post, and National Public Radio.


Refer to the CRPL Student Handbook for further information on the Certificate of Religion and Public Life and how to navigate the process. You can also visit the HDS Website for further information about the Religion and Public Life program.

For further information, contact Religion and Public Life Coordinator, Reem Atassi at ratassi@hds.harvard.edu.


Dr. Diane Moore in a red jacket in front of a bookshelf

Diane L. Moore

Faculty Director, Religion and Public Life
Lecturer on Religion, Conflict, and Peace
Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions

Reem Atassi

Coordinator, Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative
Coordinator, Religious Literacy in the Professions Initiative
RPL Visiting Fellow Susan Hayward

Susan Hayward

Associate Director of the Religious Literacy and the Professions Initiative