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Harvard Yard in Autumn. Photo by Chris Alburger

Harvard Yard in Autumn. Photo by Chris Alburger

When I was applying for schools, I knew I wanted to work on issues of social justice and self-determination, and that I would need to know something about public policy to do that. I also articulate that passion as a spiritual calling. I wanted to be able to speak both languages: law and love, policy and divinity.

The dual degree program has been an amazing way for me to gain both fluencies. Both programs are fairly flexible in how you organize yourself; to a certain extent, you create your own program. I spent my first year at HDS and my second year at the Kennedy School, though the handful of others in the program have typically done it the other way around. I’m also doing the MDiv and the MPP, which means, even with both programs cutting off a semester of electives, I will be here for four years total (“Almost a doctorate!” friends frequently observe).

While in some ways it was jarring to go from discussions of cosmology and scriptural history to lessons in econometrics and politics, the dual program has been an excellent blend of my interests. HDS is great at asking Why questions, but our discussions can often feel a bit far from the ground – now that we’ve thought about why the world is the way it is, how do we shape it to be more just? The Kennedy School is great at asking How questions, creating policy analysis and mobilization plans, but it’s not as good at ethical inquiry – why do we think this is the best policy, and how do we hold ourselves accountable to those we would serve?

By spending some of my time at each school, I’ve had the opportunity to work at issues of justice and equality from both angles – the structural and the political, the ethical and the efficacious.