When we look at the way we live on our planet, there are ethical issues all around us: racism, inequality, migration, conflict and peace.

To examine these issues, Harvard Divinity School has created a very different kind of executive education program, designed around personal development, to give leaders the resources they need to be agents of change.

Drawing deeply on history and the world’s religious traditions, Harvard Divinity School’s Making Change program challenges participants to reflect on some of life’s most profound questions and consider both their own way of living and how they can address some of the most pressing issues in the world today.

Last year’s participants have said this program is “all about changing the world.”

Participants are guided by some of Harvard Divinity School’s leading teachers and scholars, engage deeply with peers, and work with collections that illustrate the theme of change and transformation in human history, culture, and leadership. The program’s objectives for participants include:

  • Developing a fluency in social issues that call for change in society and in ourselves, including issues like racial inequality, migration, conflict, and peace
  • Challenging participants to step away from their day-to-day lives and engage in structured personal reflection that helps them to identify and articulate priorities and develop action plans
  • Exposing them to ideas and practices from religious traditions and contexts
  • Enabling them to recognize aspects of religious traditions and social movements that are often overlooked or oversimplified — the internal diversity of traditions, their dynamic nature, and the reality of practice in individuals’ lives.

“For people who want to make change in themselves, in their communities, in their organizations, and in the world around them, religion is both a rich resource and an important dimension of human experience to understand,” said Stephanie Paulsell, Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies and HDS faculty chair for Executive Education. “It’s very hard to make change if we don’t understand the world around us, and it’s very hard to understand the world around us without understanding religion. Religion can inspire change, and religion can impede change.”

“Meaning Making” is another key component of the program. The small group sessions with experienced leaders help participants process information, bring it down to a personal level, and incorporate it into their ongoing efforts to make a positive difference in the world.

Making Change draws leaders from all professions — and from all over the country. More information is available on the program’s website. Those interested can email questions or sign up to receive additional information.