HDS alumni discuss the intersection of ethics, religion and spirituality | News
A group of Harvard Divinity School alumni in the humanitarian aid professions reflected on the impact of their education at HDS and discussed the intersection of ethics, religion, and spirituality during of a virtual panel on Tuesday.
The discussion brought together three HDS alumni – acting director of Religion and Inclusive Societies at the US Institute of Peace Palwasha L. Kakar, president of Church World Service Richard L. “Rick” Santos, and founder of International Bridges to Justice Karen I. Tse.
Moderator Susan O. “Susie” Hayward, associate director of the Religious Literacy and Professions Initiative at HDS, began by acknowledging the importance of the panel, noting the crisis in Ukraine and other places around the world. world.
“It’s critical for a world facing current and impending crises, like the current crisis unfolding in Ukraine, which I know is at the heart of our concerns,” Hayward said. “But also those that are unfolding now, in Yemen, in Myanmar, in Syria, and those that are unfolding now and yet to unfold related to climate breakdown that is causing untold suffering in many places around the world.”
Panelists discussed how HDS has enhanced their understanding of the intricacies of spirituality and religion in the context of humanitarian action. Kakar described learning to better navigate “the mess and complexity of religious roles and institutions, both in conflict, peace and politics.”
“It’s really helped me in the work that I do at the American Institute of Peace, on mapping religious landscapes and developing a methodology where it’s not someone from the outside, but voices from within that tell us what matters in religious narratives, what matters in institutions,” Kakar said.
When discussing the ethics of resource sourcing and decision-making, Santos said that many of the issues surrounding funding and resource allocation center on the historical power of European and American countries. .
“I think long-term justice issues have to revolve around who makes the decisions, who has the power in that decision-making,” Santos said.
Tse said she believes addressing such issues of justice often deeply involves spirituality, a connection she found during her time at HDS.
While at Harvard, Tse said she realized that “love, justice and spirituality are very much married.”