Grants for Harvard Students

Junior Fellowships

CSWR Junior Fellowships are paid positions available to student residents who wish to make a distinguished contribution to the mission of the Center, its community, and its interreligious and intellectual projects.  Junior Fellows might propose any range of projects or ideas, from a thematic series of lectures on a topic of interreligious importance or a film and discussion program on a religious topic to organizing community-based service projects or engaging in interfaith work on behalf of the CSWR.  Proposals should be appropriate to the Center’s Mission Statement, as well as the applicant’s academic interests and relevant experience.  Successful proposals will outline a project meant to last throughout the academic year (September through May) and include a reasonable amount of detail (such as basic goals of the project, a schedule of events or meetings, estimates of time involved, probable expenses, etc.).

Applicants may wish to consult with CSWR associate director Corey O'Brien in preparing the proposal.

Proposals should not exceed 1000 words.  This application should be attached to the regular application for residence at the CSWR.  Please note that reception of a Junior Fellowship is contingent upon being awarded residence.

Current Junior Fellows

The 2013-14 CSWR junior fellows are:

Usra Ghazi, MTS candidate with a focus on Religion, Ethics, and Politics. Ghazi’s academic interests center around the role of religion in civic engagement. In examining the intersection of religion and public life, she is particularly interested in models of interreligious engagement that situate religious actors and communities as peace-building agents, especially in instances of interreligious and ethnic conflict. Her junior fellow project is titled “Interfaith as antidote: models of faith-based civic engagement.” Some of the guiding questions for this series include: Do the social services of faith-based communities strengthen social cohesion? What impact do interfaith partnerships have on issues like homelessness? What are the sources of religious illiteracy and interreligious intolerance? This series consists of four panel conversations between representatives of faith-based and interfaith organizations as well as Harvard faculty to discuss both successful and challenging models of interfaith activism.

John Winter, MDiv candidate with a focus on Buddhist studies. Winter is a practicing Buddhist in the Tibetan Kagyü tradition, former Managing Director of the Dharma Ocean Foundation, and currently president of the Vajra Amrita Mandala, a small Buddhist sangha based in Boulder, Colorado. In addition to his work and Buddhist studies, Winter carries a long-held interest in opportunities for multi-religious encounters, which began during his undergraduate years at Naropa University in Colorado where intellectual life mixed with the experiences and insights of contemplative practitioners of differing religious traditions. Winter's junior fellow project, titled "Don't Know Much About: Students Teaching Students About the HDS Religious Landscape," is giving MTS and MDiv students a chance to gain basic fluency from each other about their respective traditions of study. Inspired by the observation that many students enter HDS with strong backgrounds in some traditions while having only a vague conception of others, this series of lunch conversations aims to create a welcoming space in which to "fill the gaps." Each month, presenters from one tradition share what they think every HDS student should know about their tradition, along with its most important aspects for them personally. Each presentation is followed by an informal discussion period of open exploration and curiosity.

Past Junior Fellows

Junior fellows from previous years include:

Leslie Hubbard, MTS candidate with a focus on Buddhist studies. Hubbard's academic interests center around medieval Chan Buddhism and specifically the role that art and bodily practices played in the assimilation of Buddhism into Chinese culture during the onset of Buddhism in China. Her junior fellow project was titled "Beyond Words: Intersections of Meditation, Visual Art, and Sacred Music and Dance across Religious and Cultural Boundaries." Some of the guiding questions for this series included: What impact do meditation and art have on the religious experience among the various world religions? What universal human needs do art and meditation fulfill in religious traditions? How can art and meditation function as a place of refuge for interreligious dialogue? This series consisted of two components: first, a monthly meditation and art engagement series in which presenters offered a short lecture followed by an active participation in the experience of meditation and/or art, and second, a series of panel presentations and discussions by Harvard faculty members on the subject, with the intention of discovering intersections of practice and theory among the world's varying religious traditions.

Axel Takács, ThD candidate studying comparative theology, with a focus on medieval Christian and Islamic mysticism and theology. Takács' junior fellow project consisted of a series of public lectures on or related to comparative theology. These lectures were given both by scholars within the field of comparative theology and by scholars of a particular religious tradition whose work is in some way "theological," either explicitly or implicitly. In addition, he held several smaller, private roundtable discussions on comparative theology with HDS students .

Konchok Tsering, visiting PhD student from the College for Tibetan Studies at Minzu University in Beijing, China. Born and raised in northeastern Tibet, Tsering is currently conducting research on the history of Bonpo and Buddhist religious traditions at Harvard Divinity School. Her junior fellow series tapped experts from Harvard and area schools to explore religious traditions including Bon, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, and Shinto. The series will explored what discourages scholars from paying closer attention a given minority tradition, what can be gained from dialogue between scholars of such traditions and those studying more popular faiths, and how an understanding of these traditions enhances the study of other, better known traditions with which they have historic interactions.

Kate Yanina DeConinck, ThD candidate with a focus on religion and society. DeConinck's academic interests center around religious and cultural memory/memorialization, particularly as related to Ground Zero in New York City. Her junior fellowship project was titled "Aftermaths: Religion, Ritual, and Remembrance in a Multireligious World." Some of the guiding questions for this series included: What role do religious communities play in the aftermath of natural disasters or mass murder? How can rituals help individuals or groups overcome the devastation of such violence? And, what is at stake in how faith communities choose to remember (or forget) atrocities, in terms of both how they view themselves and how they view others? The programming consisted of two components: first, a series of lunchtime discussions with faculty concerning their research on themes of ritual and remembrance; and second, a variety of events coordinated in conjunction with the newly formed Religion and Politics Colloquium.

Chan Sok Park, ThD candidate in New Testament and early Christian studies. Park's research interests include the social and political ramifications of religious language, texts, and movements; individual and communal self-definition in antiquity; and Johannine Christianity. As a junior fellow, he hosted a series of reading group meetings of doctoral students on the topic of the place of reading practice in the study of religion. The group had two particular interests: First, how do we understand our own reading practice of religious texts in its academic, study-of-religion form, institutionalized in a modern university setting? What is its relation to religious reading of and for contemporary religious communities? Is this distinction even appropriate, and why? Second, what are the contemporary methodological tools for the study of religious texts in interreligious and interdisciplinary contexts? What are their strengths and limits, and the implications for the group members' own textual study?

Funlayo E. Wood, PhD candidate in African Studies with a concentration in religion. Wood's research centers on African indigenous religions, with a particular focus on the Yorùbá Ifá-Òrìsà tradition, which originates in Southwest Nigeria, and its variations and influences in the Americas. As a junior fellow, she completed a project titled "African, Diasporic, and Indigenous Religions in Conversation," through which she sought to increase the visibility of and engagement with indigenous religions at the Center and the University. She organized a series of discussions, film screenings, and a day-long symposium titled "Sacred Healing and Wholeness in Africa and the Americas," all of which explored indigenous religious worldviews and practices with particular attention to how they positively articulate with today's world.