Religions have functioned throughout human history to inspire and justify the full range of human agency, both for good and for ill. The widespread failure to understand the power of religion in human experience has significant consequences. It fuels bigotry and prejudice, leads to conflicts and crises, and hinders cooperative endeavors in local, national, and international arenas. There is an urgent need to promote a more sophisticated understanding of religion in public life to mitigate these consequences.
The Master of Religion and Public Life degree (MRPL) is a one-year graduate degree program designed for experienced professionals who wish to develop in-depth knowledge of the complex ways religion influences public life related to their career areas. The MRPL degree provides an opportunity for mid-career journalists, government officials, humanitarian aid workers, educators, artists, health care professionals, lawyers, and other practitioners to become leaders in their fields who can help foster a better public understanding of religion and address the religious dimensions of some of the most difficult issues of our time.
Specifically, the MRPL degree allows professionals to gain advanced knowledge about religion through coursework, a shared seminar with other professionals, and a final project that will contribute to deepening understanding of religion within their fields. Graduates will be equipped to serve as leaders regarding the public understanding of religion and how it impacts their profession. They will be able to create resources and conduct training workshops and seminars for their peers either independently or in conjunction with Religion and Public Life at HDS. Students are eligible to take courses from HDS faculty and from other faculties across Harvard to help them develop a course of study that is relevant to their professional interests.