Faculty News and Research

Exterior of Swartz Hall

Video: Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future: The Renewal of Swartz Hall

November 8, 2021
The renovation of Swartz Hall embodies Harvard Divinity School’s vision for a campus that is truly inclusive —a place where students from every imaginable tradition and background can come together in pursuit of humanity’s most fundamental questions and answers—both in classrooms worthy of their brilliance and in communal spaces that nurture the informal interactions from which new ideas and new relationships so often flow.... Read more about Video: Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future: The Renewal of Swartz Hall
Matthew Potts

Joyful Responsibility

November 4, 2021

Matthew Potts fosters a place of welcome as campus reopens

Matthew Ichihashi Potts, MDiv ’08, PhD ’13, didn’t plan on becoming Pusey Minister at Memorial Church, but service has always been at the heart of his work. After studying English literature at the University of Notre Dame, Potts served as an officer on a guided missile cruiser in the United States Navy. He later opted for conscientious objector status after a tour of active duty and found his way back to higher education at Harvard Divinity School. An Episcopal priest, Potts has served as a pastor at several parishes in Massachusetts, including St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Falmouth, Massachusetts.... Read more about Joyful Responsibility

Composite image of psychedelic hands by Kristie Welsh, MTS '99

Transcending and Transforming Psychedelics

November 4, 2021

To some, the word “psychedelics” is a synonym for the 1960s. This name—coined in 1957 for a class of drugs that profoundly alter our states of consciousness—derives from the Greek deloun and psyche meaning to “manifest the soul” or, as Michael Pollan puts it, to “change your mind.” If you’ve been on an extreme media fast these past 10 years, the wave of articles, books, and programming about psychedelics might not have reached you. But the wave is now cresting, and we are currently surfing the so-called Psychedelic Renaissance.... Read more about Transcending and Transforming Psychedelics

Cave of the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Art of the Forgotten

November 4, 2021

What Professor Annette Yoshiko Reed will teach us about ancient religion and our modern understanding of storytelling 

Annette Reed, MTS ’99, is currently a Professor in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Department of Religious Studies at New York University, where she has been a member of the faculty since 2017. Her research spans Second Temple Judaism, early Christianity, and Jewish-Christian relations in late antiquity, with a focus on retheorizing religion, identity, and difference. She will join the HDS faculty as Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity when her appointment begins on July 1, 2022.... Read more about The Art of the Forgotten

A painted sign on a building reads "Welcome to Mechanicsville"

Ethnography and Crafting the Story of Community

November 4, 2021

From kincraft to Black Church burnings, Professor Todne Thomas teaches about the multidimensional character of human experience

Todne Thomas, Associate Professor of African American Religious Studies, is an esteemed ethno-grapher and an expert on kinship studies. But when it comes to titles, Thomas prefers something more personal: “My favorite titles are daughter and mother,” she shares. Her preferred honorifics point to who Thomas is at her core—a person who understands the eminence of connection.... Read more about Ethnography and Crafting the Story of Community

Gautama Buddha

Compassion in Crisis: Professor Janet Gyatso on Empathy, Ethics, and New Epistemologies

November 4, 2021

Scholar, professor, academic leader, author, animal rights advocate—Janet Gyatso contains multitudes

As Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs here at HDS, Janet Gyatso has helped lead the School through the many challenges of 2020 and 2021 by grounding herself in the practice of compassion. As a professor of Buddhist studies, she has shifted the focus of her classes to explore current issues from new Buddhist perspectives. As a scholar with a fierce appreciation for the welfare of all sentient beings, Gyatso has started working on her next book: an exploration on the connections between animal welfare and empathy.... Read more about Compassion in Crisis: Professor Janet Gyatso on Empathy, Ethics, and New Epistemologies

Nancy and X.D. Yang, AB ’87, MBA ’92

Nancy and X.D. Yang on Building an Intellectual Community

November 4, 2021

As the fall semester began in 2021, the first two Yang Visiting Scholars in World Christianity joined the HDS community eagerly awaiting them in Cambridge. Both Dr. Chandra Mallampalli, Professor of History at Westmount College in California, and Dr. Oluwakemi Abiodun Adesina, Associate Professor of History and Head of the Department of History and International Studies at Redeemer’s University in Nigeria, research and teach about Christianity as a worldwide religion. As the inaugural Yang Scholars, they are creating a foundation of experts that will expand over the years, numerically and geographically, thanks to the vision and generosity of Nancy and X.D. Yang.... Read more about Nancy and X.D. Yang on Building an Intellectual Community

Dean David N. Hempton. / Photo: Stephanie Mitchell, Harvard Staff Photographer

Renewal & Reflection

November 4, 2021

In the 2020 Dean’s Report, I wrote to you all with hope—hope that our community would weather the many storms we faced safely, hope that we would find strength while navigating uncertainty, and hope that we could ground ourselves in compassion even as the world felt unmoored.... Read more about Renewal & Reflection

Wooden front doors to Swartz Hall

From Restoration to Reinvention: Swartz Hall Fosters Meaningful Connection

November 4, 2021

While visiting an exhibit at a gallery on Martha’s Vineyard years ago, Preston and Connie Williams found themselves taken by the vibrant colors and stunning texture of the paintings. Preston leaned closer to one of the pieces—noticing a small notation where an author’s mark would normally melt into the work. He turned to the artist and asked for the meaning of the inscription.... Read more about From Restoration to Reinvention: Swartz Hall Fosters Meaningful Connection