From Associate Dean Hannah Peters

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”

I gasped a little when I heard Walter Smelt III, MTS ’17, offer this line from the poet Rumi as advice to Harvard University’s graduating students during his Graduate English Address at Commencement last May. They were, after all, the future “masters of the universe”: brilliant leaders with a passion for knowledge and for solving problems.

Then I smiled.

Walter gave us all a taste of what goes on every day at Harvard Divinity School, where students lean into problems that have no easy solutions and grapple with questions that have no correct answer. “No new technology, no printing press or app, is going to settle the problem of greed, or death, or hate,” Walter said. “At the Divinity School, we think about these problems, and about how people have dealt with them through the ages, and how to do what right we can in the face of all that’s wrong.”

Walter’s words capture what I love about HDS. The School’s approach to education inspires a deep appreciation of what it means to be human; a lifelong search for wisdom, not just knowledge; and both the commitment and the inner resources to “take on this messy, tragic, lovely world and confront its problems in good faith.” The results, as you’ve seen in the preceding pages, include the scholarship, teaching, and public dialogue of Cornel West and Charles Stang; the revolutionary listening of Rev. Stephanie Spellers; David Hysong’s drive to cure rare cancers; and remarkable students devoted to truth-seeking and service.

The Campaign for HDS not only preserves this type of learning experience in a world where it is increasingly rare, but also extends it into the future. Your gifts have breathed new life into Christian studies, pioneered the field of Buddhist ministry, raised critical funds for student financial aid, and enabled bold new investments in religion and peacebuilding and in opportunities for international study.

Your continued support is critical to bring the campaign to a successful close this year. With your help, HDS can continue to “bewilder” students like Walter Smelt, who go forth, as he stated so simply and beautifully, “to change the world and to be changed by it.”

Thank you for being our partners and our stewards.

Hannah Peters
Associate Dean for Development and External Relations