The Vanderbilt Divinity School is partnered with The Henry Luce Foundation in forming The Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative. The Collaborative is designed to strengthen our mutual commitment to combat the idolatry of racism that remains widespread in our society by engaging the academy, religious bodies, and society on the local and national level. In doing so, we will harness the power of public theology to challenge our ties to our respective religious communities, which often keep us siloed within particular racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and faith boundaries. Public theology asks us to come together to explore fundamental questions about the nature of racism and how it intersects with other forms of social oppression. One focus of this partnership is the preparation of the next generation of religious leaders to think theologically about racial justice. We seek applicants from among the student body of Vanderbilt’s graduate and professional schools who are interested in building strategies for genuine social change that hold together rigorous theological and intellectual engagement with deep social engagement. Students from each of Vanderbilt’s graduate and professional schools are eligible to apply for these individual grants. Grants will be awarded based upon the following criteria:

  • Preference will be given to those who have demonstrated commitment to the vision of the Collaborative through prior community involvement, community organizing, activism and/or through written advocacy, whether published or unpublished. However, those new to Public Theology and Racial Justice are also encouraged to apply in order to establish an entry way to this work through discernment. For example, an anthropology graduate student could collect local multi-faith religious leaders’ personal journeys and struggles with racial justice; or, an education graduate student could develop a pedagogical intervention for classroom discussion where difficult discussions about racial injustice present teachable moments.
  • A draft budget for your proposed project including a narrative statement for the amount sought with a breakdown of each component, not to exceed $1000;
  • A letter of recommendation from an academic, clerical, lay or professional advisor, submitted directly to the associate director under separate cover;
  • A detailed description of the ways in which your proposed project fits the goals and objectives of the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative as reflected in its statement of commitment found at here.

Up to four awards ranging from $250 to $1000 will be made per semester during this academic year. Interested students should submit grant application materials to Associate Director, Teresa L. Smallwood, JD, PhD at the following address: This information should be transmitted in one single file as a MS Word document. Grant awardees will be selected by a committee consisting of the Director, Dean Emilie M. Townes, Associate Director, Teresa Smallwood and 3 members selected from the Collaborative’s Planning Committee. 

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: March 1, 2018 at 11:59 pm


USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE – Direct all questions to Dr. Smallwood