With lecturers including a leading voice of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, a United States senator, and the senior minister of the venerable church that had the Boston marathon bombing virtually on its doorstep, YDS is launching its new program in Transformational Leadership for Church and Society this fall.
The program—one of the first major steps in the implementation of the school’s new strategic plan—aims to impart leadership skills and inspiration to students at YDS and across the university. The one-credit courses (for which Yale registration is required) revolve around two-day weekend interactions with the guest lecturers; students will do extensive preparatory readings and then write papers following the weekend events.
The new initiative is being funded by a $120,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation. The grant covers three years of programming, and between 18 and 24 guest speakers in total.
Here is the schedule for this fall’s courses:
Section One: Transformational Leadership in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. Guest lecturer: DeRay Mckesson, Oct. 2-3.
Section Two: Transformation in Public Service and Politics. Guest lecturer: U.S. Senator Chris Coons ’92 M.A.R., Oct. 16-17.
Section Three: Transformational Leadership Preparing for when Disaster Strikes. Guest lecturer: Rev. Nancy Taylor ’81 M.Div., senior minister of Old South Church in Boston, Nov. 13-14.
In addition to giving lectures for the course each of the guest lecturers will do a public event on the Friday evening in Marquand Chapel at YDS.
William Goettler, associate dean at YDS and the organizer of the new series, said the courses will supplement students’ academic work with workshop-style experiences designed to cultivate their leadership skills and imagination.
“The Divinity School recognizes our responsibility to form leaders for church and society,” Goettler said. “We do that very successfully in the academic realm. This new program will augment that through engagement with significant leaders who will come and tell their stories, present case studies, and engage leadership theory. Going forth from these courses, students will be more intellectually prepared and professionally equipped to be transformational leaders.”
This spring’s guest lecturer lineup will include Rev. Amy Butler, senior minister of Riverside Church in New York; Christopher Sawyer ’75 M.Div., partner in the Atlanta law office of Alston & Bird and a leading specialist in land conservation law; and Carolyn Woo, president & CEO of Catholic Relief Services.
“Our world is changing with great speed,” YDS Dean Greg Sterling said. “Yale has a long tradition of training individuals to lead in churches, institutions of higher learning, and society. We envision this new program as a means to bring students into contact with proven leaders who will challenge them not only to think about leading in new and creative ways but inspire them to reach beyond their current aspirations.”
Added Goettler: “In a time of declining church membership, congregations need visionary leadership, and leaders of this type are always needed, too, in social justice work and other areas of public life,” Goettler said. “YDS has been successful at preparing leaders of this type for a long time. We are committed now to preparing people even better to fill these roles.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated on September 18 to provide more detail about the duration of the grant and the number of guest speakers who will be brought in during the three years of programming.