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Celebrating 50 Years of Women at Harvard Divinity School
The admission of women to Harvard Divinity School in 1955 set the stage for the transformation of the study of religion, of training for ministry, and of the School itself. Today, women constitute a majority of living graduates, as well as a majority of current students. Their presence at the School over the last 50 years required a rethinking of religious language, history, concepts, and categories. Women have always participated in the HDS community as sources of financial support, staff support, and personal and communal support in their roles as student and faculty wives. It is impossible to imagine the HDS of the twenty-first century without the challenges and creativity that women brought as students and, later, as faculty.
The year-long women's jubilee has afforded the opportunity both to look back at the historic pioneer efforts of HDS women and their supporters and to look forward to consider the significance of their presence over the last 50 years for the future of the School. The year-long celebration of women at HDS included delivery of all the School's prestigious named lectureships by distinguished women scholars, including alumnae of the School, as well as special events focused on the ongoing significance of women's participation and of attention to gender as an analytic category across the School's programs. The jubilee also provided an opportunity to highlight ongoing annual programs focused on women and gender.
The year was inaugurated with Professor Ann Braude's Convocation Address, which outlined the history of women at HDS. Distinguished alumnae returned throughout the year to deliver the Tillich, Ingersoll, Dudley, and James Lectures and to participate in discussions considering the contributions of women in ministry and the study of religion.
The Women's Studies in Religion Program (WSRP) celebrated its 25th anniversary with the conference "Border Crossings," which featured the work of past scholars of the WSRP, and hosted discussions on the categories of gender and nation within the context of globalization.
Also, the newly formed Committee for the Study of Women and Gender in Religion hosted events to encourage an open forum for students and faculty to discuss the use of gender as an analytic tool in the study of religion and to suggest new paths for the discipline. The year ended with an Alumni Day that celebrated pioneering women graduates who have broken new ground in issues of politics, race, social justice, and global welfare.
The year's events listed below are available online; click the appropriate title to view or listen.
- Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 20th Anniversary Celebration (June 2005; video)
- The 2005-06 Convocation Address: "A Short Half Century—Fifty Years of Women Harvard Divinity School," by Ann Braude (September 2005; video · text)
- The Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality: "Is Immortality Important?" by Karen Armstrong (November 2005; video)
- WSRP Research Associate Lecture: "Ecclesial Work: Toward a Feminist Public Theology," by Rosemary Carbine (December 2005; audio)
- Women and Gender in Religion Forum: "On Desire and Gender," by Sarah Coakley (December 2005; video)
- Forum on Women in Ministry (February 2006; video)
- Border Crossings: Women's Studies in Religion Program 25th Anniversary Conference (February 2006; audio)
- WSRP Research Associate Lecture: "Religious Relationships in Devotional Poetry: Gender and Genre in Renaissance Christianity," by Constance Furey (February 2006; audio)
- Women and Gender in Religion Forum: Panel Discussion (February 2006; video)
- Lecture to Inaugurate the Elizabeth H. Monrad Chair: "Acute Melancholia," by Amy Hollywood (February 2006; video)
- WSRP Research Associate Lecture: "A Faith of Their Own: Women Artists Re-vision Religion," by Gannit Ankori (March 2006; audio)
- WSRP Research Associate Lecture: "Taoist Priestesses in Medieval China: Roles, Images, and Identity," by Jia Jinhua (March 2006; audio)
- Women and Gender in Religion Forum: "Feminism, Inc.—North American Feminist Theologies and Globalization," by Thandeka (March 2006; video)
- The 2006 William James Lecture: "Dancing with God in a World of Crucifixion," by Karen Baker-Fletcher (April 2006; video)
- The 2006 Dudleian Lecture: "Jesus and Shylock: Feminist Views of Christianity's Jews," by Susannah Heschel (April 2006; video)
- Women and Gender in Religion Forum: "Thinking About Women and Heresy," by Karen King (May 2006; video)
- The 2006 Paul Tillich Lecture: "Encountering the 'Other' in a World of Difference and Danger," by Letty M. Russell (May 2006; audio)
- Alumni Day 2006: Each of the following Alumni Day pages includes details about the session and a link to the video presentation.
- A Question of Courage: Who Will Be My Sister's Keeper? Gloria White-Hammond, MDiv '97 and Melinda Weekes, MDiv '05
- To Dare Mighty Things Tori Murden-McClure, MDiv '89
- First Women Students at HDS Constance Parvey, BD '63; Judith Hoehler, BD '58; Joyce Mann Mazur, HDS '58; Marianka Fousek, ThD '60; Rena Karefa-Smart, ThD '76
- Living Lovingly in a Culture of Fear Keynote Address by Margaret Miles