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Directors' Welcome

From its beginning, the GDR has pursued its vision of collaboration, interdisciplinarity, connection to a wider conversation in the humanities, diversity, and now an emphasis on religious practices. At present, the GDR is the home of some 60 faculty teaching across 9 courses of study; more than 150 students on campus pursuing the doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree; an innovative multimedia journal, Practical Matters; the Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology, which promotes research projects, consultations, and interdisciplinary work on religious practices that engages the wider public and promotes the teaching of the practical theological disciplines for future generations of scholars; and the concentration in Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding which draws upon Emory’s distinctive resources to address ways in which religion is related to conflict and peace-building by undertaking work on different religious traditions and geographic locations, focusing on textual analysis, historical research, analysis of practices, or ethnographic research. 

The GDR enjoys a rich relationship with the wider Emory University community. Interdisciplinary work has always been and continues to be at the center of our common life. All faculty hold primary appointments in other schools, departments, or units of the university. The GDR interpenetrates all of the signature institutions of Emory University.

The study of religion lies at the heart of Emory’s signature commitment to be an exemplary community of moral inquiry and social responsibility. GDR students and faculty have been participants in projects partnering academics and community leaders through the Office of University-Community Partnerships and in the research, educational and leadership activities of the Center for Ethics.  No student in the GDR graduates without substantial work completed outside his or her Course of Study, and the rare GDR student graduates without substantive work from elsewhere in Emory University. Dissertation committees regularly include faculty from outside the GDR.

Emory's Graduate Division of Religion embraces its diversity of persons and intellectual perspectives.  Our faculty and students represent a remarkable range of attitudes about religion. Located in the vibrant context of Atlanta, the GDR offers a variety of research and learning possibilities. Faculty and students have gone out into the city to study Hindu temples, Islamic mosques, African American mega-churches, Buddhist sanghas, and multi-racial and multi-ethnic Christian congregations. Our research and attitudes bespeak the shared view that religion is one of our most intriguing and enduring prisms into central truths about human life and being.

Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion, by maintaining a distinguished, world-renowned faculty, seeks to educate the next generation of Religion and Theology professors who will become the leading scholars in their respective fields. This mission is shaped by four core values: the enduring power of religious cultures, scholarly creativity, interdisciplinarity, and diversity. It is carried out within a distinctive intellectual ethos that shapes the educational experience of Emory doctoral students in religion.

Thank you for your interest in the GDR.

Carol Newsom and Bobbi Patterson


Shaping scholars Reshaping institutions

Signatures of our Program

  • Diversity
  • Collegiality
  • Scholarly Creativity
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Religious Practices