Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative Launched at Vanderbilt Divinity School

Vanderbilt Divinity School recently launched its Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative. Under the initiative, funded by a $1 million grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Divinity School will bring scholars, students, activists and public servants to Nashville for the next three years to work through the collaborative on programs to eradicate racism and all of its reciprocal forms of injustice and hatred. A top priority of the collaborative is the training of the next generation of leaders to engage the public on issues of racial justice through all forms of media.

Emilie M. Townes, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society, dean of the Divinity School, and leader of the collaborative, sated that “this is a particularly important moment to birth a collaborative that seeks to be a hub for a national conversation on public theology and racial justice. As a Southern, progressive university-based divinity school, we are situated strategically to lead this project as a collaborative formed by networking with groups locally and across the United States that are working for racial justice.”

Professor Townes was named dean of the Divinity School in 2012. Previously, she was the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School. Dr. Townes holds a bachelor’s degree, a master degree in divinity, and a doctorate of divinity from the University of Chicago. She holds a second doctorate from the joint Northwestern University/Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary program. She is the author of several books including Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).


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