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Research and Outreach

The Yale Divinity School is part of a research university committed to transmitting and producing knowledge in ways that serve both students and alumni. At YDS, with its emphasis on having an impact on the larger world, these functions continue to play a critical role.

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Yale Center for Faith and Culture

The mission of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture is to critically examine and promote, by means of theological research and leadership development, practices of faith that advance authentic human flourishing and the global common good. The center aims to understand the integral link between faith and human flourishing and then to nurture leaders in all spheres of life who draw on the resources of faith in their vision and promotion of human flourishing and the global common good.

Founded in 2003 by its present director, Miroslav Volf, the center seeks to engage major cultural issues from the perspective of faith, pursuing groundbreaking research and leadership programs. Information on current activities and research can be found at the center’s Web site, www.yale.edu/faith.

The center’s mission is currently pursued in three major areas.

God and Human Flourishing, headed by Professor Volf, is the center’s capstone project, framing and informing the research and engagements of the other programs while at the same time drawing on their research results. Its goal is to explore human flourishing with an aim to expose the inadequacy of experiential satisfaction as the defining characteristic of human flourishing and to propose an alternative and deeper definition of flourishing rooted in convictions about God. As part of that program, Professor Volf is teaching an undergraduate course titled Life Worth Living. The goal of the course, as well as of the publications and video presentations planned in association with it, is to return a robust discussion about this issue to the center of university education as well as of public debates in the larger culture.

The Adolescent Faith and Flourishing Initiative seeks to advance authentic human flourishing among youth by drawing on the insights of the God and Human Flourishing Program to enhance and support transformative Christian youth ministries.

The Faith and Globalization Initiative dovetails with the Yale Faith and Globalization course in pursuing a mission to create and disseminate knowledge of the specific ways in which practices of faith and facets of globalization can collaborate in promoting human flourishing and the global common good.

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The Jonathan Edwards Center and Online Archive

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758), Yale graduate, pastor, revivalist, philosopher, missionary, and college president, is the subject of intense interest because of his significance as an historical figure and the profound legacy he left on America’s religious and intellectual landscapes. The mission of the Jonathan Edwards Online Archive is to produce a comprehensive database of Edwards’s writings (http://edwards.yale.edu) that will serve the needs of researchers and readers. The Online Archive also serves to support inquiry into his life, writings, and global legacy by providing resources and assistance, and to encourage critical appraisal of the religious importance and contemporary relevance of America’s premier Protestant religious thinker.

The Edwards Online Archive is housed within the larger site of the Jonathan Edwards Center at YDS, the most prestigious center for scholarship on Jonathan Edwards and related topics. Staff members assist numerous scholars of Edwards and American religion every year, offering them a half-century of expertise in working with the Edwards manuscripts, as well as guidance through the vast secondary literature. The center’s staff provides adaptable, authoritative resources and reference works to the many scholars, secondary school and college-level teachers, seminarians, pastors, churches, and interested members of the general public who approach Edwards from any number of different perspectives. Complementing the archive of primary texts are reference works, secondary works, chronologies, teaching tools, and audio, video, and visual sources. The center also encourages research and dialogue through its international affiliates, publications, fellowships, lectures, workshops, and conferences.

The staff of the Jonathan Edwards Center consists of Harry S. Stout and Kenneth P. Minkema, assisted by a team of student editorial assistants. The office can be contacted by telephone, 203.432.5340, or e-mail, worksje@yale.edu.

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World Christianity Initiative at Yale

The World Christianity Initiative at Yale is an interdisciplinary project established to focus attention on the current global religious resurgence and its impact on movements of democratization and social empowerment. Economic and political pressures have fueled an upsurge of religious ferment, creating new fault lines as well as new opportunities for encounter and outreach. The appeal of religion in an increasingly mobile and secularized world has given people an outlet for their hopes and dreams while also producing new fissures and barriers. The return of religion has demanded new configurations of structures and institutions of education, leadership, and social mediation. Amidst current economic challenges and rising expectations driven by demographic and labor shifts, religious resurgence is evidence of the search for new meaning and forms of community across the world. Religious diversity has increased, as has the sharpening of boundaries and the imposition or threat of restrictions. The global network has stimulated the circulation of ideas of hope and new possibilities as well as those of conflict and violence.

These new realities require new ways of research and scholarly collaboration and partnership among centers and institutions, and the encouragement of scholarship and academic exchange. Yale is richly endowed with a great University library system containing significant manuscripts and documents devoted to the topic, with an active research and teaching faculty well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities now available. With the support of the Yale Divinity School and the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, the World Christianity Initiative at Yale (www.yale.edu/worldchristianity), under the directorship of Professor Lamin Sanneh, is committed to developing work in the field in partnership with others, with critical attention to three areas:

  • • Research is necessary both to understand the implications of new religious movements for the coming era and to increase awareness of the effects of the global religious resurgence on the economic, political, social, and research dimensions of the world’s societies.
  • • The World Christianity Initiative is engaged in ongoing conversation and joint endeavors with institutions and centers in the United States and in emerging religious communities abroad. The WCI’s efforts are directed at assisting religious and academic organizations and churches in projects of partnership. The director is involved in new initiatives being undertaken in Africa and elsewhere on issues of religion and society, including producing the Accra Charter on Religious Freedom and Citizenship.
  • • The work of the World Christianity Initiative is designed to be a platform of interaction among scholars and religious leaders, with a special focus on encouraging the participation of younger scholars in discussions on campuses and elsewhere. The WCI collaborates with international religious scholars and institutions in order to facilitate contact and conversation with North American-based scholars, researchers, and students.

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Summer Study at Yale Divinity School

Each summer, clergy and laypersons from around the country come to New Haven for Summer Study at Yale Divinity School. Running during consecutive weeks in June, Summer Study brings together distinguished teachers and practitioners to teach workshops and weeklong courses that enrich and enlighten. While courses do not carry academic credit, Summer Study work can be submitted by clergy participants for denominational continuing education credit.

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