How should we approach religion? Whose religion should we study? What should we include?
Students, faculty, and staff at Harvard Divinity School (HDS) have labored over these questions for 200 years. Together, they have undertaken an audacious project to combine critical thinking about religion with the training of religious leaders in the context of a research university.
A special exhibit for HDS’s bicentennial year, “Faces of Divinity: Envisioning Inclusion for 200 Years,” tells the story of the School since its founding in 1816. It brings together the student experience, faculty work, and University initiatives. It draws on the School’s history to explore how it became a multireligious divinity school, while also broadening its reach as a multidisciplinary center of academic excellence, religious scholarship, and service to the communities — both locally and globally. At the same time, it follows students, faculty, and staff across porous and shifting lines between HDS and Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, a line often discussed in relation to the exhibit’s themes.
It includes 21 exhibits of photographs, poetry, paintings, and audiovisual materials throughout three of the Divinity School’s buildings: Andover, Divinity, and Rockefeller halls. Curated by Ann Braude, director of the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at HDS, the exhibit explores the development of HDS through a series of themes, including theology and ethics, history, and Unitarian and Universalist traditions, as well as Jewish, Asian, Islamic, African-American and women’s religious studies, ministry training, preaching, and social justice.
“Faces of Divinity” is one part of HDS’s larger yearlong celebration of its bicentennial, which kicks off on Tuesday. There will be a public unveiling of the exhibit (on display throughout the academic year) in Andover Hall at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday. Also marking the day is the Divinity School’s Convocation ceremony. Harvard President Drew Faust will offer welcoming remarks during HDS’s Convocation at 5 p.m. on the Campus Green. Keynote speaker George Rupp, former HDS dean and past president of the International Rescue Committee, will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing HDS in its third century.