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A soldier stands guard at Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan on December 8, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Wilson/Pool.

Could the U.S. Government Take Nonviolence Seriously?

September 3, 2021

Peacebuilding efforts need to take into account a region’s religious landscape . . . Baked into the international system and into diplomacy, especially in the West, is a great deal of simplistic and often biased thinking about religion. . . . Religion is complicated and not inherently a positive or negative element in violent disputes,” said Susan Hayward, associate director of the religious literacy and the professions initiative at HDS.

 

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Diane Moore speaks on religion and public life

Divinity School Launches New Degree Programs

August 19, 2021

Harvard Divinity School long focused on preparing religious leaders and training religious scholars, this fall adds a third mission. It is launching its first new master’s degree program in more than 50 years, the master of religion and public life (MRPL), a comprehensive program of training professionals for practice in other realms.

Religion and Public Life

Religion and Public Life Announces 2021-22 Fellows

June 11, 2021

Religion and Public Life at Harvard Divinity School (HDS) today announced its 2021-22 fellows. This inaugural cohort of expert practitioners bring deep expertise and social justice commitments to a range of professions (government, education, journalism, organizing, and media and entertainment) and issues (racial justice, climate change, immigration advocacy, and Native and Indigenous rights).

The 2021-22 Religion and Public Life Fellows will join HDS in the fall to help launch the new...

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jerusalem declaration on antisemitism logo

Video: The Politics of Defining: A Roundtable Discussion about the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism

May 17, 2021

An alternative to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the recent Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA) endorsed by scholars of antisemitism, Jewish Studies, Holocaust Studies, and Middle East Studies challenges the politicization and litigation of antisemetism by rearticulating what is and is not antisemitism.... Read more about Video: The Politics of Defining: A Roundtable Discussion about the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism

Beyond the Coup in Myanmar: Don't Ignore the Religious Dimensions by Susan Hayward, RPL Fellow

Beyond the Coup in Myanmar: Don't Ignore the Religious Dimensions by Susan Hayward, RPL Fellow

May 10, 2021

The 2007 democratic uprising in Myanmar looked a lot different from the current anti-coup resistance. Sparked by a rise in fuel prices that created further economic burden on an already struggling population, thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns across the country took to the streets in defiance of the military. In a country in which religious actors, institutions, practices, and ideas are deeply influential, the so-called Saffron Revolution, the most recent mass mobilization prior to the...

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lauren kerby

Lauren Kerby leaving HDS

May 6, 2021

Dr. Lauren R. Kerby, the RPL’s religious literacy specialist, will be leaving HDS in early May. In her five years at HDS, including three years in her full-time role, Lauren has played a key role in the design and implementation of the Religious Literacy and Education Initiative, and more broadly within our work across professions. She has also served as a lecturer at HDS and has mentored numerous students seeking to engage the complex role of...

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Torah scroll

Video: Reimagining and Rewriting Jewish Liturgy

April 28, 2021

This conversation featured RCPI Topol Fellow Rabbi Brant Rosen and Professor Susannah Heschel, and was moderated by RCPI Senior Fellow Professor Atalia Omer.

Rabbi Brant Rosen of Tzedek Chicago, a non-Zionist congregation, discussed with Professor Susannah Heschel his effort to reimagine Jewish liturgy, community, and meanings beyond Zionist frames. They also examined what it means to (re)write and write anew Jewish prayers that address the realities of Jewish power and complicity with violence, and how the concept of exile/diaspora originated and functioned in Jewish history...

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What’s New About the New B’Tselem Report: A Moment of Moral Clarity

Video: What’s New About the New B’Tselem Report: A Moment of Moral Clarity

March 9, 2021

The latest B’Tselem report discussing the conditions of apartheid in Israel and the occupied territories has been met with varying support and critique. Sam Bahour, Diana Buttu, Hagai El-Ad, and Orly Noy analyze the importance and implications of the report and the language of apartheid more broadly. Illuminating the internal Palestinian debate over the usefulness of apartheid language, the impact of apartheid on Israeli...

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Geographer and seed saver Linda Quiquivx with Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative Fellow Vivien Sansour

RCPI Event Video: How Indigenous Wisdom Can Help Us Design An Autonomous Future of Food

February 26, 2021

Across the globe, the importance of food sovereignty is central to indigenous cultures. Vivien Sansour and Linda Quiquivix discuss the importance of linking the two, and how an understanding of food systems and indigenous rootedness in the land is key to unpacking systems of power and oppression these communities face. Sansour, founder of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library, and Quiquivix, a geographer and educator, draw connections between the communities they both study and represent by centering storytelling as a way of reclaiming identity and belonging in relationship to the land.... Read more about RCPI Event Video: How Indigenous Wisdom Can Help Us Design An Autonomous Future of Food

Gods, Guns, and Girls: A Q&A with WSRP Research Associate Georgette Ledgister

January 27, 2021

WSRP Research Associate Georgette Ledgister speaks on the importance of religious literacy to recognize the role of religion amid the most complex social challenges and conflicts in the world, as a critical first step towards achieving sustainable peace and justice, specifically as it relates to post-war Congo. This event will be held Thursday, February 11, at noon (EST). 

For the full event description, please visit...

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Religion & Cultural Activism: Disrupting Peace and Pursuing Justice in Palestine/ Israel

December 3, 2020

Religion & Cultural Activism: Disrupting Peace and Pursuing Justice in Palestine/ Israel
Thursday, December 10, 2020 11:00 AM–1:00 PM EST

Presiding: Santiago H. Slabodsky, Florence and Robert Kaufman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies, Hofstra University

Responding: Atalia Omer, Professor of Religion, Conflict, and Peace Studies, The University of Notre Dame and Senior Fellow in Conflict and Peace at Harvard Divinity School’s Religion and Public Life.

Join Diane L. Moore, the founding...

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Cover of Rashid Khalidi's The Hundred Years' War on Palestine

RCPI Event Video: Book Talk: "The Hundred Years' War on Palestine" by Rashid Khalidi

October 30, 2020

The latest book by Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017, is a departure from his previous work as a historian. Writing for a public rather than scholarly audience, he draws on personal and familial experiences from across generations to argue that ongoing settler colonial violence is supplanting Palestinians and erasing their historical belonging to their land.

Khalidi discusses his book with Rosie Bsheer, Assistant Professor...

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A view of Harvard Divinity School campus in the fall

A ‘Public Enlightenment’: Harvard Divinity School Begins New Program in Religion and Public Life

October 26, 2020

The Harvard Divinity School launched a new program in Religion and Public Life this month, its first new degree program in 50 years.

The program is aimed at studying the ways religion and civic life interact, said Jacob K. Olupona, a professor of African Religions jointly appointed at the Divinity School and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences who will teach courses as part of the RPL program. It includes both degree-granting and certificate-granting components, as well as a series of public speaker events, panels, and webinars.

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump meet with Judge Amy Coney Barrett and her family, in the Oval Office of the White House.

Ed Blog: Amy Coney Barrett and the Internal Diversity of American Catholic Women

October 23, 2020

When Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the Supreme Court, her religious identity as a conservative, charismatic Catholic immediately became a subject of intense scrutiny. On one level, the American public and their representatives in Congress were interested in how Barrett’s religious commitments might influence her judicial work. But on another level, the public conversation about Barrett’s identity reveals the internal diversity of how American Catholics think about what it means to be a Catholic woman, mother, and even feminist.

Buddhism mediation space with a statue and two candles

Education Blog: Buddhism(s), Meditation(s), and Colonialism in Burma

October 9, 2020

This lesson illustrates the key principles of internal diversity, historical change, and cultural embeddedness using Erik Braun’s article about Burmese meditation vis-à-vis British colonialism. The story of how British colonialism in Burma shaped the way meditation was taught and practiced in Burma, as well as its subsequent export to the United States, is a clear object-lesson in the tenets of religious literacy.

Artist rendering of U.S. flag

Video: The Campaign for (White) Christian America: Lauren R. Kerby in Conversation with Jeff Sharlet

October 9, 2020

As the 2020 presidential election nears, Lauren R. Kerby and Jeff Sharlet discussed the politics of white evangelicals in the U.S. today. Kerby's book, Saving History: How White Evangelicals Tour the Nation's Capital and Redeem a Christian America, offers a starting point for this important conversation about how race, nationalism, and Christianity become entangled for many white evangelicals through what they learn from their leaders about American history.

Their political commitments are baffling to many observers, but this conversation will explore how white...

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Melissa Wood Bartholomew, Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, Instructor in Ministry, Harvard Divinity School

Nothing Can Separate Us

October 2, 2020
"In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—and the racism pandemic we have been fighting since my ancestors arrived from the West Coast of Africa, I am reminded that there is so much that we don’t know," says Melissa Wood Bartholomew, Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at HDS.
The Book of Disappearance by Ibtisam Azem

RCPI Event Video: Literatures of Annihilation, Exile, & Resistance - Book Talk: "The Book of Disappearance" by Ibtisam Azem

October 2, 2020

Literature and storytelling are prime ways we complexify our understandings of the people impacted by different typographies of violence. Elias Khoury and Susan Abulhawa share excerpts from their writings and discuss the importance of literature in depicting Palestinian narratives, whether in Palestine or the diaspora. Khoury gives voice to the violence in Lydda during the 1948 Nakba, and Abulhawa writes about a fictional Palestinian woman’s experiences in Kuwait, Jordan and Palestine. Both speak to the importance of understanding the diverse human impacts of various forms of violence...

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Days of Awe by Atalia Omer

RCPI Event Video: Book Talk: "Days of Awe" by Atalia Omer

September 17, 2020

How can narratives serve as sites for critical justice work and peacebuilding? What can Jewish tradition offer anti-occupation social justice movements? These are some of the many pertinent questions explored by Atalia Omer in her latest book, “Days of Awe: Reimagining Jewishness in Solidarity with Palestinians.” In this webinar, Omer discusses the aim of the book in which she traces the diverse social movements which have shaped the development of American Jewish solidarity with Palestinians, in conversation with Rabbi Brant Rosen and Dr. Sara Roy.

At the heart of Omer’s work...

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James Baldwin speaking at a podium

Education Blog: #ScholarStrike: James Baldwin and Educating Against Society

September 14, 2020

On September 8-9, 2020, academics across the country, including faculty and staff at the Religious Literacy Project, are participating in teach-ins for racial justice known as the #ScholarStrike. I assigned these readings from James Baldwin, Patricia Hill Collins, and Tressie McMillan Cottom to my students at Harvard Divinity School to start our semester studying the history of education and religion in the U.S. For others interested in these questions, I offer them as resources for thinking about how critical pedagogy can serve the goals of racial justice. 

A George Floyd prostest in Denver

Education Blog: #ScholarStrike: Anti-Black Racism and Internal Diversity in American Christianity

September 9, 2020

On September 8-9, 2020, academics across the country, including faculty and staff at the Religious Literacy Project, are participating in teach-ins for racial justice known as the #ScholarStrike. As part of our contribution, we offer this lesson plan about American Christians’ responses to Donald Trump and the George Floyd protests as a resource for teachers seeking ways to connect religion and race in their discussions of current events. 

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