January Term Workshops

January term at HDS is an opportunity for the HDS community to engage in studies and specially designed programs that offer enrichment, knowledge, service to the community, or experiences outside HDS's normal offerings. The workshops and experiential learning opportunities are coordinated and run by members of the HDS community. Examples of workshops/sessions that have been offered in the past are "Financial Management for Faith Communities," "The Keys to Effective Fundraising," and "Border Crossings: The U.S./Mexico Border in Theological Perspective." 

Past January term workshops

Students and faculty on a 2013 January Term trip to Nicaragua.

Students and faculty on a 2013 January Term trip to Nicaragua.

Following are some examples of workshops that have been offered in previous January terms:

Comparative Monasticisms

This January 2014 one-week course in comparative monasticisms  immersed students and the course director in an encounter with the daily practices of the New England Buddhist Vihara and Meditation Center and those of a Cistercian Christian monastery in central Massachusetts. Students spent time at a contemplative center dedicated to Buddhist-Christian dialogue and practices. In addition to joining the monks and lay members of each community for their respective periods of meditation, prayer, and work, the course also included a daily seminar with a member of each community.

Spirit of Resistance

Facilitators: Maritza Hernandez, associate dean for enrollment and student services, and Cheryl Giles, Francis Greenwood Peabody Senior Lecturer on Pastoral Care and Counseling.

HDS faculty and students traveled to Latin America for "Spirit of Resistance," a course that provided a firsthand look at the legacy of faith, solidarity, and social action in Nicaragua. The group talked about liberation theology and social justice with Nicaraguan environmental activists, Jesuit priests, advocates for women's health, and rural peasants.

Financial Management for Faith Communities

Facilitator: Karen McArthur (MDiv '87), affiliate minister of stewardship and finance at First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, UCC, founder and principal of Congregational Finance LLC

Leadership of religious organizations in the twenty-first century requires a basic understanding of nonprofit finance. Leaders need to be able to assess the financial health of a congregation, understand IRS requirements, and choose and train effective financial managers, whether they are paid staff or volunteers. Through presentation, discussion, and case studies, this workshop will introduce participants to the vocabulary and concepts of nonprofit financial management, including bookkeeping basics, financial reporting, employer responsibilities, and the role of the leader.

Breaking Through to Generosity: The Keys to Effective Fundraising

Facilitators: Terry Sweetser (BD '73), vice president, Unitarian Universalist Association Stewardship and Development; Laurel Amabile, director, UUA Annual Program Fund; Liz Baker McClain, manager, UUA Campaign and Legacy Gifts

This class will shine a light on the fundamentally religious nature of giving, the critical part fundraising plays in ministry and lay leadership, and a practical exploration of types of gifts and fundraising vehicles. The presenters will discuss the process of setting fundraising goals for religious organizations; share advice on approaching donors for major gifts and legacy gifts; explore options for volunteer management; and emphasize the importance of building endowment and encouraging year-round stewardship. In addition to providing information about fundraising specifics, the aim of this class is to increase confidence and comfort in conversations about money and the relationship between generosity and religion.

Ethical Eating: Social and Ecological Perspectives on Food and Food Production

Facilitator: Dan McKanan, Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity, HDS

This one-week workshop will explore the implications of food choices for people who eat, for workers who produce food, for plants and animals that become food, and for the ecological and social systems in which eating and food production take place. We will explore ancient texts and modern theologies from a variety of traditions, visit several food-related organizations, and spend time cooking and eating together. The workshop will conclude each day at 6pm or somewhat later, depending on our field trip schedule.

How to Use Online Marketing and Social Media for Social Change

Facilitator: Colby Devitt (MTS '92), vice president of marketing for Reading Kingdom, a start-up company that sells an online program that teaches children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third-grade level

Online marketing and social media can be practiced using excellent free tools, which are accessible to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. However, there is a great deal of skill and knowledge required to leverage these new electronic tools for maximum effect. This two-day seminar will cover the core principles and best practices of social media and online marketing so that marketing efforts yield the desired results. By the end of the seminar, participants will know how to design and execute an online marketing and social media strategy. Covered subjects will include setting up a successful site, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, newsletter, and advertising campaign. We will review the course material by examining three case studies of organizations that have successfully used online marketing and social media for social change. Case studies will include how a church used online marketing to grow their community by 227 percent, how a nonprofit grew online donations, and how local charities raised money via viral campaigns.

Strategic Planning for Nonprofit and Faith-Based Leaders

Facilitator: Jeremy J. Smith (MTS '03 and MBA '05, Harvard Business School), manager, operations and strategy, The Rainwater Charitable Foundation, Texas

HDS prepares global-minded leaders to build a world in which people can live and work together across religious and cultural divides. The leader's work is done collectively within communities (or congregations, staffs, or teams) through effective organizations. However, organizations often do not begin with a shared vision or with alignment on how to achieve the vision. Therefore, a fundamental part of leadership is strategic planning—that is, aligning a group around a common vision and collectively determining the path to achieve it.

Strategic planning is fundamentally about collective stewardship and reflection. This course will cover the principles of successful strategic planning that can be applied to nonprofit and faith-based organizations as well as career or personal aspirations. How does a divided organization align around a plan? What are the steps in successful planning? The course will cover three real-life case studies as well as commonly used frameworks, and will be taught using the case-study method to maximize class interaction and personal reflection. Students will also share their own experiences/stories and collectively problem-solve real challenges.

Yoga and the Art of Ministry

Facilitator: Karen D. Harris (MDiv), lecturer at Humboldt State University, Arcata, California. Classes taught include "Hindu Texts," "Spiritual Traditions of India," "Philosophy of Yoga," "Religion and the Body," "Women in Religion," and "Introduction to the New Testament."

With one in ten American adults engaged in the practice of yoga, and many teachers instructing students in spiritual practices such as meditation, devotional chanting, and the study of scripture, yoga studios are fast becoming dynamic spiritual communities. In this class we will explore possibilities for ministerial leadership in the context of the twenty-first-century yoga studio.