Divinity School

Prospective students at “Diversity and Explorations” Program, Andover Hall, November 2014

Everyone I’ve met at HDS has a different plan. We come here to learn how to do good better. My class consists of “120 students who represent about 20 religious traditions. They come from 32 states and countries around the world including China, Germany, India, Iran, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.”

I chose the “Religions of the Americas” area of focus for my course of study at HDS. Six of my 18 courses over the next two years must fall under this area of focus; other than those and a required “Theories and Methods” course for all incoming divinity students, I can take any courses I like.

Because of my personal interests, these are the classes I’m enrolled in for my first semester (see below). I hope the course descriptions I’ve included with the course title–written by the professors who teach the courses–will help show some of the many options for study at divinity school.

After graduation, I’d like to do something to help immigrants, migrants, and refugees have better access to resources. I’m not sure how that goal will take shape, but it’s why I came to divinity school. My colleagues plan to do all sorts of things: chaplaincy, medical school, PhD programs, law school, humanitarian work, NGOs, business, journalism, photography, teaching.

If divinity school seems interesting to you, and if you’d like to check out options at Harvard Div, check out the Diversity and Explorations program. You’ll learn more about HDS. It’s a place for all kinds of people. It’s a place where we come together to learn how to be better human beings.


1. Religion, Conflict, and Peace

“In this course, we will explore a series of contemporary conflicts in different regions of the world with a special focus on identifying and analyzing the diverse and complex roles that religions play in both promoting and mitigating violence in each context. Students will learn a method for recognizing and analyzing how religious ideologies are embedded in all arenas of human agency and not isolated from political, economic, and cultural life as is often assumed. In addition to examining the conflicts themselves, we will also explore the religious dimensions of the impacts those conflicts have on civic life in areas such as public health, education, and commerce. What roles do religions play in fostering violence and what roles do they play in promoting peace? How do religious institutions and ideologies function to support and/or thwart public health initiatives? What are the ideological justifications for functional economic policies and how do they reflect and/or challenge diverse religious values? What roles do religions play in advancing or suppressing educational opportunities and for whom?  Are media representations of the religious dimensions of conflict accurate? Possible countries of focus include Brazil, Egypt, France, Israel/Palestine, Myanmar, Nigeria, Qatar, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, and the United States. Final projects will be individually shaped based on interest and (where relevant) professional focus. Outstanding student work may be considered for publication on the Religious Literacy Project website at Harvard Divinity School.The course is open to all and especially relevant for aspiring or professional educators, journalists, public health workers, foreign service officers and government officials who wish to better understand how religions function in contemporary world affairs. Professionals from those fields will make guest presentations throughout the term.”

2. Human Migration & US-Mexico Borderlands: Moral Dilemmas & Sacred Bundles in Comparative Perspective

“Responding to one of the major political, economic and religious developments of our times, this seminar locates the immigration crisis of the Mexico-U.S. borderlands within the epic context of human migration in history and global perspectives. The first part of the seminar will read and critique a series of books and articles about human migration, Mexican migrations to the U.S. in the last 120 years and the enigma and fluidity of national borders. The seminar will then develop a comparative perspective on immigration by comparing Mexican migrations with migrations from a) Latin America to the U.S, b) the African American migration within the U.S. from south to north, c) contemporary migrations from Africa to countries of the European Union. Questions such as ‘what economic and political forces cause people to migrate?’, ‘do they migrate as individuals or families?’. ‘How do walls, fences and borders work and what do theymean?’ and ‘what is immigration reform-anyway?’ will be explored. We will examine the profound economic and moral dilemmas facing migrants, families, sending and receiving countries. The course uses Professor Carrasco’s concept of ‘sacred bundles’ to explore the question ‘what cultural and religious resources help migrants survive the ordeal of migration and establish new identities?’”

3. Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion

“This course, required of all first-year MDiv and MTS students but open to all, serves as an introduction to various approaches to the academic study of religion, from the anthropological and sociological to the philosophical and theological.”

4. Advanced Intermediate Spanish Readings

“Reading and translation practice in selected texts related to theological and religious studies.”


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