Justice center stage at YDS

The understanding and pursuit of justice and human dignity are core commitments among the students, faculty, and staff of Yale Divinity School. These issues took center stage in February when YDS hosted leading scholars and justice advocates on back-to-back-to-back evenings.

February 1 – Stay hopeful and do ‘uncomfortable things’: Bryan Stevenson at YDS

Bryan Stevenson, a public interest lawyer widely acclaimed for his work on behalf of the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned, delivered the annual Parks-King Lecture at YDS on Wednesday, February 1.

Stevenson’s three-part summons to the Divinity School community: get proximate, change narratives, stay hopeful, and “do uncomfortable things.”

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. EJI recently won an historic ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional.

“Stay hopeful and do ‘uncomfortable things’” - Yale News story on Stevenson at YDS.

View a gallery of photos of Bryan Stevenson’s visit and lecture.


February 2 – Sorensen Lecture by Jeremy Waldron

Jeremy Waldron, University Professor and Professor of Law at New York University, delivered the Sorensen Lecture at YDS on Thursday, February 2. Waldron spoke on “A Docket of Dignity: Human Dignity in Eight Cases from Around the World.”

Waldron was educated in New Zealand and at Oxford, and his career has included appointments at Edinburgh, Berkeley, Princeton, and Columbia. His work concentrates on constitutionalism, human dignity, historic injustice, national security issues, and the rule of law, as well as historic political philosophy. An accomplished scholar and author, he has 16 books and edited volumes to his credit, including Torture, Terror and Trade-offs: Philosophy for the White House (Oxford, 2010).


February 3 – William Barber at YDS: Building a prophetic moral vision
YDS welcomed Moral Mondays founder William Barber to the Quad on February 3 for a rousing conversation on building a prophetic movement for justice.

Known for his electrifying speech at the Democratic National Convention last summer, Barber is a minister, head of the North Carolina NAACP, and the leader of a movement to build a progressive agenda and a moral framework that counters the conservative religious constructs dominating the public square.

Read more about this event and about the Transformational Leadership program at Yale Divinity School.


And earlier in the semester …

Joel Baden, YDS Professor of Hebrew Bible, responded to the U.S. President’s executive order concerning refugees and immigrants by inviting the YDS community to a quickly scheduled lecture on refugees, immigration, and the Bible. 

Joel Baden is a specialist in the Pentateuch, Biblical Hebrew, and disability theory in biblical studies. He is the author of, among other books, The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis (Yale University Press, 2012); The Promise to the Patriarchs (Oxford University Press, 2013); The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero (HarperOne, 2013); and The Book of Exodus: A Biography (Princeton University Press, expected 2017).

Read more and watch the video of Joel Baden’s lecture.

February 9, 2017