Vanderbilt Divinity School (VDS) and

Graduate Department of Religion (GDR) Grants

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 keeps 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 the Vanderbilt Divinity School and the Graduate Division of Religion who are interested in building strategies for genuine social change that hold together rigorous theological and intellectual engagement with deep social engagement. Grants will be awarded based upon the following criteria:

  • Statement of interest in the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative as a resource for development of leaders seeking to engage the questions of racial justice through the medium of public theology for communities hurt by racial injustice;

  • Demonstrated commitment to the vision of the Collaborative through prior community involvement, and/or through written publication;

  • A sample 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 or clerical advisor, submitted directly to the associate director under separate cover;

  • Your most recent academic transcript;

  • 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

Four awards ranging from $250 to $1000 will be made per semester during this academic year. Interested students should submit the following information to Associate Director, Teresa Smallwood, JD, PhD at the following address: This information should be transmitted in one single file as a pdf. or 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: Considered on a rolling basis throughout the year, with response expected in 30-45 days.


USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE – Submit Questions to Dr. Smallwood