ESR Receives Wabash Center Grant

Earlham School of Religion is pleased to be the recipient of a grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. The grant funded project, "Preparing Students to Support Diverse Communities by Teaching them to Handle Conflict," is being led by director of the writing program at ESR, Ben Brazil.

"I was thrilled to get this grant," shared Brazil.  "My career as a student and teacher has been filled with conversations across lines of race, class, gender, politics, theology, and other kinds of difference.  If these conversations are genuine and honest, they are always going to generate conflict.  So if they're going to matter -- if they're going to bring us into real community - we have to find ways to cope with those conflicts while remaining committed to each other, and to the work.  This grant helps us deal not only with the intellectual side of the "isms" but with the emotional part - the part that involves virtues and habits of the heart."

The grant funding will be used to aid in the formation of students who have the skills, emotional resources, and spiritual virtues to remain committed, engaged, and effective when conflict erupts, whether in the classroom, community, or in a ministry context. The $30,000 grant will assist with implementing training for faculty, forging community partnerships, and adjusting the ESR curriculum in ways that will connect classroom discussion of diversity to real-life encounter with difference.

Overall goals for the use of this award include the teaching of productive uses of conflict in the classroom, establishing mutually beneficial partnerships with local community organizations that serve populations who differ from ESR's in terms of race, theology, class, and/or politics, implementing strategies for teaching racial justice to largely white classrooms, and finally making sure these strategies are implemented effectively not only in our residential courses, but also for our students at a distance.

"I am excited about what the Pedagogies for Social Justice and Civic Engagement grant means for ESR and the opportunities it creates for our students," shared ESR dean Matt Hisrich. "Commitment to engagement within the context of diversity and conflict speaks directly to the intent of our new Master of Divinity curriculum and our mission to root theological preparation for wide-ranging ministry in the Christian Quaker tradition of contemplation that inspires action. This grant provides us with tools, resources, and support to better fulfill the important work we feel called to do in this critical time. I am deeply appreciative to The Wabash Center for their generosity and the hard work and talents of Ben Brazil and M.Div. student Sherrema Bower in preparing the grant proposal."

For more information on this and other Earlham School of Religion news, contact Mandy Ford, Director of Community Engagement at (765) 973-2158 or