Conferences and Seminars

Sperry Room audience at lecture

Harvard Divinity School and the members of its faculty organize and host occasional conferences, symposia, and speaker series, often in collaboration with other faculties of the University.

The Women's Studies in Religion Program on occasion hosts conferences on gender and religion, and the Center for the Study of World Religions has, over the years, organized a variety of conferences, panels, and symposia.

Past conferences and seminars

Studying Religion Across the Disciplines

The 2014 CSWR annual spring conference "Studying Religion Across the Disciplines" took place on March 27-29, 2014. The conference aimed to foster a lasting conversation among scholars studying religion across the disciplines of the humanities, social sciences, and cognitive sciences at Harvard University, the greater Boston area, and nationally. This three-day conference drew scholars from around the university—from HDS, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Kennedy School—for sustained conversations with colleagues from the Boston area and from around the country. The focus throughout was to find common bases of inquiry, common (or at least mutually comprehensible) vocabularies, and sustainable relationships that will hopefully endure beyond the conference.

Ways of Knowing: Graduate Conference on Religion

More than 100 graduate students and early-career scholars gathered to present their research at the second annual "Ways of Knowing: Graduate Conference on Religion" held on October 25-26, 2013. The participants represented more than 60 academic institutions from across the United States and around the world.
Hosted by the Science, Religion, and Culture Program at Harvard Divinity School and co-sponsored by the New England-Maritimes Region of the American Academy of Religion, Ways of Knowing is the largest event of its kind and represents a lively new arena for graduate students of religion to present their research.

How Bodies Matter

Scholars in the areas of New Testament, archaeology, Roman history, and physical anthropology met at HDS in March 2013 to share what human remains might reveal about health, nutrition, kinship, ability, and propensity to disease and to consider how such information might help us to understand religious life and practice in the Roman Empire; to advance the study of the social, economic, and political environment of the emergence of earliest Christianity and the period of the high Roman Empire; and to see what data can be collected and shared across the disciplines of classics/Roman history, New Testament/early Christianity, archaeology, physical anthropology, and science. Symposium website »

The Year of the Body

During the 2012-13 academic year, Science, Religion, and Culture at HDS hosted "the year of the body," an effort to foster collaboration across different anthropological, historical, and theological areas of interest through a series of colloquia, courses focusing on the body, panels, and other events. In addition to hosting panels and presentations by Harvard faculty members, the colloquium hosted speakers invited in conjunction with four courses focusing on the body at HDS taught by Janet Gyatso, Karen King, Ahmed Ragab and Mayra Rivera Rivera. Colloquium website »

Business across Religious Traditions

Begun in 2006 and continuing through 2012, the Business across Religious Traditions seminars bring together professionals who share an interest in the relationships between religion and business, and in exploring the challenges and opportunities of globalism and pluralism in the twenty-first century.

Seminar on Debates about Religion and Sexuality

Seminar on Debates about Religion and Sexuality, offered in 2011, 2012, and 2014, is a program intended for advanced doctoral students, recent recipients of the doctorate, and writers working outside the academy who hope to change the terms of current debates about religion and sexuality. The program aims to help participants write their first large project while encouraging them to collaborate with others in the field.

When Worlds Collide: The Study of Religion in an Age of Science

When Worlds Collide: The Study of Religion in an Age of Science, a series of four science and religion events at HDS in 2007.

Lecture videos:

Religious Perspectives on Stem Cell Research

Buddhism and Science: Tibetan and Zen Buddhist Perspectives

Science, Beauty, and God: Reflections on the Meaning of Scientific Discovery

Theorizing Race and Ethnicity in Religion

Theorizing Race and Ethnicity in Religion, a speaker series, supported by the HDS Dean's Office and the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, Harvard University, that was part of the 2007-08 Religion and Society doctoral colloquium, to "bring rising scholars, whose work theorizes race and ethnicity in theology and the study of religion" to HDS.

William James and Josiah Royce a Century Later

William James and Josiah Royce a Century Later: Pragmatism and Idealism in Dialogue, a conference held in 2007 to assess the interactions, contributions, and continuing resonance of two major American philosophers and Harvard professors. Speakers included John Clendenning, Harvey Cormier, Mathias Girel, Peter Hare, Jacquelyn Kegley, James T. Kloppenberg, Felicitas Kraemer, David Lamberth, John Lachs, John J. McDermott, Frank Oppenheim, Hilary Putnam, Robert Richardson, Sandra Rosenthal, Linda Simon, Chris Skowronski, Ignas Skrupskelis, Cornel West, and others.

Finding Our Way

Finding Our Way, two conferences exploring new directions for progressive churches in the wake of significant and steady decline. Hosted by the HDS Office of Ministry Studies, featured speakers in 2007 were Marcus Borg, Brian D. McLaren, and Diana Butler Bass, and in 2010, Krista Tippett, host of American Public Media's Speaking of Faith, engaged HDS faculty and students, ministers, and laypeople in a constructive conversation about the contemporary religious landscape and its implications for both churches and education for ministry.

Video of the 2007 conference:

Part I: Opening Panel

Part II: Presentations by Brian D. McLaren and Diana Butler Bass

Part III: Presentation by Marcus Borg

Part IV: Panel Discussion and Question-and-Answer Session

Solutions: Emerging Trends in Community Transformation

Solutions: Emerging Trends in Community Transformation involved two working conferences, hosted by the Office of Ministry Studies in 2007 and 2008, with the goal of developing grassroots projects for revitalizing urban communities.

HDS Voices

HDS does not teach you what to think but, rather, how to think. You learn how to get to the heart of important issues and how to identify the difficult but necessary questions. Furthermore, in supporting interdisciplinary scholarship, HDS allows you to work creatively within and across traditional academic boundaries.
—Kate DeConinck, ThD candidate
More on the Religion and Society doctoral program