When I visited HDS as a prospective student, I was surprised by what Dr. Emily Click said from the podium. I’d brought some assumptions with me, across the country to Cambridge. I mean, it was Harvard. I figured they’d be snobby. Especially the faculty, with all their accomplishments and accolades. But Emily Click emanated warmth, her words were heartfelt, and she was so down to earth, I thought, wow, this is like my small liberal arts college, but even more so: nurturing, holistic, inspiring. Continue reading
I sat across from him in the pub during orientation week. It was one of the pub-nights organized for us to make friends or something. Of the infinite threads of social conversation, of course I, being an overzealous new Divinity School student, wanted to talk about religion. “I think,” I explained, “that I see the Bible like a series of expanding concentric circles centered on Jesus.” He didn’t know what I meant. I didn’t know what I meant. What I was trying to say was that I seek to believe the Bible with the most ‘plain sense’ reading I could and follow it accordingly. I just wanted to say it in a way that didn’t make me sound stupid.
“So, are you religious?” This question is a perpetual one for any person who decides to enroll in Divinity School. Unlike our peers in, say, English literature, who can pursue their field of study without question even when they are not novelists in their own right, people often wonder why a person who does not explicitly identify as religious or spiritual would choose to study religion. Or, if one does study religion as a faith practitioner, one’s ability to critically engage the study of religion without bias may be called into question. Thus, we find ourselves in something of an academic Catch-22: you can’t study religion if you aren’t religious, and you shouldn’t study religion if you are religious.
Fortunately, HDS has provided me with a fantastic community of peers, faculty, and staff who are committed to breaking down these assumptions. Continue reading
When considering divinity school, and the ways in which Harvard Divinity School in particular may be the right fit, you have probably spent a bit of time thinking about how your pursuit of a degree at such an institution might benefit or influence you professionally.
In those considerations, I imagine most thoughts have revolved around various dimensions of on-campus opportunities, and not necessarily the possibilities of career exploration abroad. While my campus experiences have been enriching in so many ways, one of my most formative experiences came in the form of a summer abroad. Continue reading
You don’t normally think of a divinity school as the place to do Islamic Studies. Certainly when I began looking into MA and PhD programs in contemporary Islam or the Modern Middle East, I looked at other, more conventional programs: the Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the University of Chicago MA program in Islamic Studies, the Columbia MESAAS program. So why the div school, you might ask? Continue reading
I will admit that I was very nervous about being asked to write about my experience of pluralism at HDS. My first thought was, “what do I have to offer to this? I’m Catholic; quick, grab a Muslim, a Pagan, a Humanist, anyone but me!” After thinking on what it is like to be a student here at HDS, I can say that it has been an immense time of growth for me. I have chanted with Buddhists, been silent with Quakers, high-fived over commonalities with Episcopalians and burst into tears of frustration over impassioned theological debates. Continue reading