Campus & Community

Theologian J. Bryan Hehir to join KSG faculty

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Hehir’s teaching and academic work has focused on ethics and international relations and the role of religion in world politics and American society. (Staff file photo Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard News Office)

Kennedy School of Government Dean Joseph S. Nye Jr. has announced the appointment of the Rev. J. Bryan Hehir as the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life. Hehir will take up his post in the fall 2004 semester.

Hehir is an eminent theologian who most recently served as president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA and distinguished professor of ethics and international affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

His previous affiliation with Harvard University (1993-2001) includes a faculty position as professor of the practice of religion and society at the Divinity School, a member of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and then service as the chair of the Executive Committee of the Divinity School from 1998-2001. His teaching and academic work has focused on ethics and international relations and the role of religion in world politics and American society.

“Fr. Hehir has dedicated his career to exploring the role and impact of religion in social policy and international affairs. He is one of the leading thinkers and practitioners in this area,” said Nye. “We are very fortunate to have his experience and depth of knowledge at the Kennedy School of Government.”

Hehir said, “The intersection of religion, social policy, and international affairs is a fascinating area of scholarship for political theorists. This is such a dynamic time in world history. I welcome the opportunity to explore these vital issues at the Kennedy School, with its distinguished faculty and diverse student population.”

At the Kennedy School, Hehir will be affiliated with the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations and will play a role in leading that center’s Program on Religion and Public Life. Mark Moore, director of the Hauser Center, said, “We look forward to having Fr. Hehir join us at the Hauser Center…. His extensive work on the claims that theological traditions make on the normative commitments that individuals of faith use to evaluate conditions in the world, … on the role that faith-based organizations have played in international movements and conflicts, and his work with Catholic Charities USA give him a unique perspective on the many important ways in which faith-based organizations contribute to social welfare.”

Prior to Hehir’s affiliation with Harvard, he was assigned, from 1973-92, to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops in Washington, D.C., where he served as director of the Office of International Affairs; secretary of the Department of Social Development and World Peace; and counselor for social policy. From 1984-92 he also served on the faculty at Georgetown University. He was a MacArthur Foundation Fellow from 1984-88.

Hehir has received more than 25 honorary degrees from American colleges and universities throughout his career. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the board of the Arms Control Association, the Center for Global Development and the Independent Sector. His writings have focused on the ethics of war and peace as well as religion and social policy.