NASHVILLE, Tennessee – “Reclaiming Our Time: Public Theology, Racial Justice and the Fight for Democracy” will be the theme for the inaugural Summer Institute presented by the Vanderbilt Divinity School's Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative June 4-8 on campus.
Registered participants can attend one of two teaching tracks: Social Trauma, Social Death or The Power of Truth-Telling: Stories and Practices from the Frontlines.
On June 5, in honor of the 25th anniversary of Emilie M. Townes' seminal publication, Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope, the institute will feature a book talk at Sarratt Cinema with the author. Townes is dean of the Divinity School and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society. Then, on June 6, “An Evening with Melissa Harris-Perry” at Langford Auditorium spotlights the prominent journalist, scholar and activist in a conversation with Tracey Meares, the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Both events will begin at 5:45 p.m. and are free and open to the public.
"America is in a kairos moment," said Teresa Smallwood, associate director of the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative. "It is a time of immense reflection, equipping and mobilization. The Summer Institute is designed to be the gathering place for those who discern the time. We are calling all scholars, students, clergy, community activists, community organizers, politicians, concerned citizens, artists and strategists to Nashville for the convening of the first cohort of what we envision to be a think tank of leaders invested in the soul of our democracy."
Smallwood explained that public theology is the lens through which participants will explore current issues with scholastic vigor, intense debate, sound reasoning, and measured, thoughtful engagement.
"The summer institute is designed as an immersion experience where you will experience the life of the university, its unique landscape, its technology, and its multiple venues for learning while sharing best practices from a wide variety of racial justice proponents," Smallwood said. "Our aim this year is to equip participants to engage a wide public on the issues presented to racial minorities in the midterm elections."