Professional and Lifelong Learning

In addition to its degree programs, Harvard Divinity School offers a selection of short seminars and online sessions exploring some of the world’s biggest questions with leading HDS scholars and professors of religion.

Making Change Program

June 5 to June 9, 2022

  • Session dates: Sunday, June 5, to Thursday, June 9, 2022

  • Application: Accepting applications in October 2021

  • Program fee: $4,800

  • Format: On campus

  • Faculty Director: to be announced

What’s around us changes us.

What’s inside us changes the world.

Step away from the demands of daily life and reconnect with the values that inspire all you do at Making Change, an intensive five-day program of personal and spiritual development on the Harvard Divinity School (HDS) campus.

In sessions with some of the country's leading scholars of religion, theology, and ethics, you will encounter knowledge and practices that lead to personal transformation and make you a more effective agent of change in your organization, your community, and the world.

Making Change is for leaders who want to:

Study at one of the world’s leading institutions of higher education. HDS is a great school embedded in a great research University—named best in the world for the study of religion, theology, and divinity by the influential QS World University Rankings. Making Change leverages the excellence and resources of both to deliver an extraordinary learning experience.

“If you’re going to start somewhere, start at the top. If I want to go to the best, I’m going to start with Harvard.” 

—Danialle Karmanos, Philanthropist, Humanitarian, Journalist, and Social Entrepreneur

Get a new perspective on the challenges they face. Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Making Change takes a critical approach to religion, culture, and ethics, questioning the assumptions that participants bring in with them. The result is a space that enables leaders to step outside of the systems in which they are embedded to generate new ideas, new visions, and new possibilities for change.

“If I can see the system—see myself within it, identify points of change within myself—then maybe I can go out into the world and make the types of change I want to see.”

—Claudia X. Valdes, Artist

Connect with others working to make change. At Making Change, you’ll not only reconnect with the things that mean the most to you, but also find a community that can support you in your efforts to place those values at the center of your life. Wherever you are on your journey, your Making Change cohort will be a network for you to draw on long after they leave campus.

“The program was a compelling invitation to exchange and network with impactful leaders from diverse cultures and backgrounds who share the conviction that a collective shift can only happen through individual shifts. The program was also a privileged opportunity to learn and interact with experts and scholars who have absorbed centuries of knowledge and wisdom.”

—Swaady Martin, Serial Entrepreneur and Author

Take the long view. The challenges and trends that shape our societies today are the product of years—often centuries—of history. Making Change participants learn how 500 years of religious and cultural intermingling shape the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border; how religion can mix with politics and economics to fuel long-term conflicts like the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland; and how religious communities can generate and sustain mass movements that transform societies, as did the struggle for civil rights in the United States.

“Making Change provided a chance to see social systems through deep time—how they’ve shaped the world and how we’re living in them; how we’ve been formed and are living within them; and the deformities that happen there. It’s what [the study of] religion provides.”

—Claudia X. Valdes, Artist

Make an investment in themselves. For people who give their all to their organizations, their communities, and their families, Making Change is an opportunity to recharge. The program provides time and space to step back from the demands—or simply the inertia—of daily life so that participants can reconnect with the values at the foundation of all they do.

“If you’re a busy executive, going to these programs gives you a moment of reflection. You can use it to understand and to mesh through things you’re processing. [Making Change] made me a better person.”

—Cromwell Coulson, President and CEO, OTC Markets Group, Inc

Exposure to top thinkers in religion, theology, and ethics usually requires enrollment in a lengthy degree program—as long as three years for a master of divinity at HDS. At Making Change, you will engage with these topics in a real and substantial way in only a week—and develop new perspectives and tools you'll need to keep doing so after the program ends.




Participant conversation and connection is an essential component of the program. We seek a group of participants with diverse perspectives and experiences. The only formal requirement for admission is proficiency in written and spoken English.

All applicants are encouraged to review Harvard Divinity School’s nondiscrimination policy and community values statement.


Prospective participants are requested to complete a brief application. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis with decisions communicated weekly. Given the relatively small size of the program, interested applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible to ensure that space is available.


The program fee varies according to the program, and is set six months in advance. We accept American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. You may also pay by transferring the tuition fee from a bank account.

What’s included

The program fee covers all lectures, meaning making sessions, and pre-readings.

Withdrawals, refunds, and changes to the program

Participants can withdraw their registration subject to the following refund schedule:

  • 15 or more days before the program start: full refund
  • 8–14 days before start: 50 percent refund
  • Within 7 days of start: no refund

Program curriculum, dates, and faculty are subject to change. In the unlikely event of a change in the program dates, participants who previously paid are eligible to have the program fee refunded in full, but the School is not responsible for any other expenses incurred by the participant.

Pre-program preparation

There are 5-10 hours of preliminary assignments and readings to complete prior to the start of the program. Materials will be distributed to participants a month before the program start date.

Have a question?

Email us.

Previous Programs

June 2021 Session: Religious Resources for Living Beyond Crisis

The disruption and suffering caused by the Covid-19 pandemic challenged and overwhelmed many of us. This course examined its impact on our lives and anticipated what life will be like “after the crisis.” In this mind and spirit, we gathered Sunday, June 6, through Thursday, June 10, for a virtual (via Zoom) program workshop at Harvard Divinity School on “Religious Resources for Living Beyond Crisis: Remembering, Bearing Witness, Restoring, Innovating, and Changing.” Faculty Director Charlie Hallisey and Program Manager Alison Harvey led us in an examination of how the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to change our lives and livelihoods in ways both small and profound. As vaccines are distributed and we started to reopen, we asked ourselves: what have we learned? What have we lost? What will life look like on the other side of the pandemic?

The four-day program explored religious resources to make meaning of the many injustices the pandemic revealed. They also examined the interlocking and ongoing issues of climate change and global inequality and explored ways to personally respond to these challenges.

An introductory session took place on Sunday. Monday through Thursday consisted of half-day sessions where some of Harvard’s leading scholars evaluated how the spiritual, moral, and historical lessons of the world’s religions help us understand our global predicament and to create new ways of responding to it:

Professor David Carrasco, remembering the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 together with artist Ellen Elmes, asked us to explore the significance of the intentional act of "remembering" and the human necessity and importance of such remembering.

Professor Terry Tempest Williams gave us an opportunity to explore how "bearing witness" is not a passive act, but one of conscience and consequence. To not avert our gaze from all that is breaking our hearts can become a generative practice that invites us to engage with hard things rather than withdraw from them. Writing is another form of bearing witness.  Participants were given time to write and share a short piece.

Dean Melissa Bartholomew turned our attention to how can we contribute to restorative justice, to heal the wounds of the world that we inherit.

Professors John P. Brown and Charles Hallisey asked us to examine where we can focus our attention to find and/or create breakthroughs we need for change and innovation.

The presentations were followed by small, facilitated meaning-making breakout sessions where participants shared personal reflections on the session. Optional spiritual practices were offered, including yoga, contemplative prayer, Buddhist meditation, and AfroCuban dance.

Meaning Making Facilitators

Ashley Lipscomb, MDiv '20, Co-founder & CEO of the Institute For Anti-Racist Education, Inc.; Tom Maridada, MDiv '21, President & CEO at BRIGHT New Leaders for Ohio Schools; Rev. Laura Tuach, MDiv '01, Assistant Director of Field Education, Lecturer on Ministry.

View the Religious Resources for Living Beyond Crisis program schedule (PDF).