Position for Leadership
As YDS’s mission statement suggests, the Christian tradition cannot be adequately understood apart from its relations with other religious traditions; nor can Christian leadership be pursued responsibly and effectively in today’s world without attention to Christianity’s multi-faith environment, both nationally and internationally. Differences among faith traditions often spark political conflicts, yet faith traditions can also be powerful forces for peace, and engagement across faith traditions can be a critical factor for creating a more just and peaceful world. Much more must be done if YDS is to effectively support, as our mission statement proclaims, “scholarly engagement with Christian traditions in a global, multi-faith context.”
Building on our strengths as a university-based divinity school committed to academic excellence and our long-standing tradition of training for Christian service, YDS needs to assume a position of leadership in multi-faith education by:
- Expanding the curricular opportunities for the study of non-Christian religions;
- Creating greater opportunities for inter-faith engagement in YDS’s training of students for service in church and world;
- Broadening the student constituencies served by YDS curricula and programming concerning other religious traditions so as to impact significantly the education of students in all YDS degree programs;
- Providing resources on multi-faith issues for continuing education by our alumni and the wider community.
- Identify a staff person to be responsible for identifying, publicizing, and coordinating into YDS programming all relevant resources of the university, e.g. available courses, visiting lecturers, world fellows, etc.
- Offer course planning grants of up to $3,000 to encourage curricular innovation by current faculty with the goal of increasing the number of YDS courses with a multi-faith dimension to five, over a three-year curricular rotation, by 2017. Faculty might integrate texts from non-Christian religious traditions into existing courses or produce new courses focusing on multi-faith themes, perhaps in collaboration with non-YDS faculty conversant in other religious traditions.
- Provide opportunities for faculty to discuss models for inter-faith study and collaboration appropriate for YDS that might prepare the way for a reconfiguration of Area V or the possible addition of a sixth area of the curriculum. Such opportunities for discussion, informed by appropriate selected readings, should be included in the next faculty retreat and/or should take the place of the faculty forum in the fall and/or spring of 2015-16.
- By 2022, appoint two new faculty members to strengthen our resources in these areas. While the definition of these positions should be informed by the faculty discussions in 2015-16, a starting point for discussion would be one faculty appointment in Religion and Conflict Transformation and the other in Inter-Faith Encounter with special attention to the Abrahamic traditions, and a preference for faculty specialized in the study of contemporary Islam or Judaism. The specific nature of the appointments and subfields will be determined in the future. The cost is $6 million for an additional faculty line.
- Create lectures, symposia, and other events to draw world religious and political leaders to Yale’s campus. The two new faculty hires would be expected to contribute to this initiative by convening conferences with multi-faith participation on topics relevant to their research interests and by establishing, on that basis, web resources to serve alumni and the wider public.
- Establish multi-faith immersion experiences both locally and through ministerial experiences abroad. To provide the former, consider implementing an M.Div. requirement comparable to “Negotiating Boundaries,” a day-long immersion to familiarize students with nearby major centers for non-Christian worship and local inter-faith initiatives. To provide the latter, establish a yearly travel seminar to an international site of active faith-to-faith encounter.