Howard University School of Divinity

Theological Harambee Event

Howard University School of Divinity (HUSD) campus event was called “Theological Harambee” and themed “Responses to Global Climate Crisis.” The word “harambee” is from Swahili, meaning “all pull together,” a gathering of the community for discussion and action. It was held on April 17th in-person at the divinity school and was attended by at least 25 people.

The Harambee showcased student final papers written for the systematic theology course. The three papers spotlighted for the event, by titles, were:

  • “African American Church Awareness of Environmental Stewardship”
  • “Ecology and the Church”
  • “Sallie McFague’s Ecological Theology and Hermeneutics”

The student showcase was followed by power point presentation with photos documenting one student’s field education placement with Interfaith Power & Light. The same student wrote a final paper in ecological theology titled “Implications of Native American Spirituality for Development of Ecological Theology in African American Churches.”

Ms. Robin Lewis, Director for Climate Equity at Interfaith Power and Light, was the invited speaker and focused on activism, that is, on informing persons of the climate crisis and ways they can be involved to bring change and improvement.

Black Church Environmental Workshop

Held on Earth Day 2023 (April 22), this workshop was not a part of the original grant proposal. This event was co-sponsored by Howard Divinity School and the Howard University Graduate School & NOAA Center for Atmospheric Science and Meteorology (NCAS). Whereas the Harambee’s speaker focused only on activism, the Workshop included the perspective of a climate scientist, Dr. Joseph Wilkins. He explained the science behind what’s happening with our environment. The workshop presentations by Ms. Robin Lewis and Dr. Joseph Wilkins were recorded and will be edited for viewing at the Divinity School’s and Graduate School’s social media platforms.

Course Revisions

With the student enrollment at 106, the three core courses that were revised to emphasize climate science and climate crisis were impactful. These courses were:

  • John Ahn’s Hebrew Bible/Old Testament II course (Spring 2022): 31 students (1st Year MDiv & MA). The Hebrew Bible course focused on paleoclimatology for explanation of forced and forced-return migrations alluded to in biblical texts written during, or later to interpret, the Exilic (586-538 BCE) and Post-Exilic (537-430 BCE) Periods.
  • Frederick Ware’s Systematic Theology I & II courses (Fall 2022 & Spring 2023): 13 students (2nd Year MDiv & MA). The systematic theology course used texts in or related to ecological theology to encourage student reflection on ecology and the climate crisis for a theological perspective.

These courses together reached 44 students (42% of the student body).

Student Papers and Field Work

See the section above for information regarding student papers. To repeat, the exceptional papers were titled:

  • “African American Church Awareness of Environmental Stewardship”
  • “Ecology and the Church”
  • “Implications of Native American Spirituality for Development of Ecological Theology in African American Churches.”
  • “Sallie McFague’s Ecological Theology and Hermeneutics”

Through the grant project, one student received a stipend to cover her field education work with Interfaith Power & Light.

To view syllabi in the climate grant cohort, CLICK HERE.

Contact information

Learn about the other Participant Schools

In furtherance of the AAAS mission of advancing science in service to society, AAAS|DoSER’s role in the Science for Seminaries project is to support efforts to integrate science into seminary education. AAAS|DoSER does not advise on or endorse the theological content of the participating seminaries.