Peter W. Cookson Jr. ’10 M.A.R.
B.A. New York University 1966
Ph.D. New York University 1981

CooksonIn a world plagued by conflict and moral confusion, the Yale Divinity School stands for moral clarity, authenticity, and spiritual commitment.   To be a member of this vibrant, compassionate, and hopeful community was and is a blessing and a gift that I will carry with me in the years to come. You will find that YDS is a special kind of shared sacred space; one that embraces the soul and the mind; one that celebrates the human condition and the divine presence; one that combines compassion and analysis.   YDS enabled me pursue my professional and spiritual goals in an atmosphere of inquiry, demanding academic standards, moral purpose and with a deep sense of joyfulness and freedom.  

YDS students are extraordinary; their commitment to making a better world through a disciplined devotion to knowledge and truth-seeking is inspiring.   With the support of the School’s supportive and intellectually engaged faculty—particularly Sallama Shaker, visiting professor of Islamic studies and Middle East studies—I have refined my philosophy of education into one that weaves together the sacred and the secular. In the fall I will be publishing a book incubated at YDS---Sacred Trust: A Children’s Bill of Rights.  My commitment to an educational covenant that includes all children owes much to my YDS teachers, classmates, and readings.

I will continue to teach the sociology of education at Teachers College, Columbia University and expand my work in 21st century learning. While studying at YDS I developed a global curriculum, “Water for the World;” my project is to unite human rights education, 21st century learning, and the creative use of the new communication technologies.  I have no doubt that my experience at the School allowed me to refine my thinking and explore new possibilities, all within the context of service to humanity and to God.  I will continue to develop this work in Washington DC, where my wife Susan and I are moving this summer; I will be working closely with educati

There are many good and instrumental reasons to study at YDS; in the end, however, the fundamental reasons for studying at YDS are transcendent and life-long.  The process of intellectual enlightenment and spiritual exploration elevates the mundane and material to a new level of awareness, sensibility, and commitment. One need only attend a service at Marquand Chapel to experience this transformation; it is in those magic moments when life’s larger purpose becomes clearer and ever more compelling.