Adventurous Within Disciplines
At the heart of the Graduate Division of Religion is its intellectually and socially engaged faculty, whose wide range of scholarly interests supports graduate research in such fields as American religious history, biblical studies, Christianity in late antiquity and medieval Europe, theology and philosophy, Christian social ethics, and the psychology and sociology of religion. Many members of the faculty have contributed significantly to the shaping of their respective fields. Frequent presenters at national and international conferences, the faculty has a high publishing profile, with books translated into more than ten languages.
Distinctive of the scholarly ethos of the GDR faculty is the adventurous way in which they inhabit their respective disciplines, bringing a creative, relational and transformative edge to the scholarly labor of critical thinking. Not content merely to internalize, preserve and transmit the canonical knowledge of the disciplines, the faculty also interrogate the histories in which these disciplines have taken shape and solidified. They question received assumptions and categories along with the vested interests and power relations they reflect. They push transgressively at disciplinary boundaries toward other bodies and paradigms of knowledge, and through them toward the open world.
Flexible Across Disciplines
An uncommon flexibility between disciplines, then, characterizes much of the scholarly work undertaken in the Graduate Division of Religion. It offers students the interdisciplinary opportunity to take courses and exams outside of a stated primary field of interest, allowing connection to a broader intellectual context, while providing necessary grounding in their specific discipline. More uniquely, the adventurous spirit that shapes the faculty’s disciplinary identities presses beyond the established lines of interdisciplinary conversation toward creative formations of transdisciplinary space, wherein faculty and students pursue their research agendas between the disciplines while rethinking and recasting the received categories, canons and cartographies of the disciplines themselves.
This transdisciplinarity regularly presses into territory not yet clearly charted within the academy; it entails moving into the interstices between the academy, on the one hand, and the religious and socio-political life of the larger world, on the other. Indeed, it is the complexity and diversity of the concrete contexts in which and for which the work of scholarship is undertaken within the GDR that is understood to call for creative and courageous thinking between and beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Students whose research interests cross disciplines will find a religion faculty at Drew that supports work in such areas as gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, ecology, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism. A concentration in women’s and gender studies is available in all programs. The committed movement toward an ever more versatile and open curricular structure is reflected in seminars and colloquia frequently involving students and faculty from several different fields. The GDR also enjoys close collaborations with Drew Graduate School’s other programs in the humanities.
Engaged Beyond Disciplines
The ethos of the graduate study of religion at Drew is marked by a shared vision with regard to the work of scholarship and its engagement with the wider world. It is a vision that understands responsible scholarship as a matter of responsible citizenship in the global community. The passion of the GDR faculty for their scholarly work – shared by the students who thrive at Drew – is fired by the desire for a transformed world and the creation of communities of justice and peace existing in friendship with the earth. Such engaged scholarship entails unflinching critique of systems of power destructive of creaturely flourishing in all its diversity, while inquiring after transformative practices of reconciliation, empowerment and healing in the concrete particularity and complexity of contemporary historical contexts. GDR faculty members also teach in Drew Theological School, a progressive United Methodist seminary with a strong ecumenical orientation. These joint appointments bring scholarship into conversation with the practice of ministry and deepen the learning experience of students in both schools.
It is no accident, then, that diversity is a demographic hallmark of this scholarly community. The faculty of the GDR is distinctively marked by a robust geographic and ethnic diversity as well as an uncommon gender balance. The GDR student body is equally diverse, with almost a third coming from outside North America. The result is an international community of scholars in which diverse perspectives are welcomed and placed in lively conversation toward a transformative scholarship uniquely engaged with the global contexts of contemporary religious faith.
The Graduate Division of Religion supports work in the fields of:
- Hebrew Bible;
- New Testament and Early Christianity;
- Christianity in the ancient Mediterranean and medieval Europe;
- Theological Studies;
- Philosophical Studies;
- Sociology of Religion;
- Christian Social Ethics;
- Psychology and Religion;
- U.S./American Religious Studies;
- A concentration in Wesleyan and Methodist Studies is available in any of the above fields.
- A concentration in Women’s & Gender Studies is available in any of the above fields.
The distinctive strengths of Drew’s religion faculty also support interdisciplinary research emphases in Ecological Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, & Postcolonial and Race/Ethnic Studies.