About

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The Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice is concerned with the relationship between religion and matters of economic and ecological justice.

The Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice seeks to inform and support commitments to justice and deep solidarity through investigation, education and organizing.

Housed at Vanderbilt Divinity School, the Religion and Justice Program is strategically located in the American South where religion has often accommodated itself to the status quo and too often neglected alternative visions of faith. Seeking new paths of faithful reflection, the Religion and Justice Program pursues fresh engagements with the resources of Christianity, historical and contemporary, and in close conversation with other religious traditions.

The Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice works in close collaboration with other programs at Vanderbilt Divinity School, including:

  • The Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality

  • The Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies

  • The Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the Professions

  • The Public Theology and Racial Justice Collective

These programs address concerns about inequality and injustice related to gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. The Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice complements and engages these concerns by developing responses to inequality and injustice related to  economics and ecology, which are closely linked to the development of religious discourse, both past and present.

While the Wendland-Cook Religion and Justice Program is rooted in the academy, it is designed to address the needs of non-academic communities, both at the local and global level. We work with religious communities to assess needs and develop and promote constructive models of religious life in conversation with broader economic and ecological pressures. We develop resources for clergy, leaders, and community organizers for presentations in congregations and community groups. We hold regular meetings with small groups that include faculty experts, pastors, and community organizers. Drawing on the long-standing commitments of religious and activist communities, we focus on economic and ecological justice at the local, national, and international levels.

Our Vision

Justice, in many religious traditions, is not an abstract idea but tied to the life of embodied communities. To be just means to restore and to build community at all levels: personal, public, political, and economic. At the Wendland-Cook Religion and Justice program, we believe addressing the relationship between religion and matters of economic and ecological justice is foundational to the flourishing of all people and the planet.

Our Mission

As part of theological and religious reflection, we study and support matters of economic and ecological justice and its implications for religious communities and the wider public. Our educational and organizing resources are developed especially for communities and scholars as they engage religion in working towards economic and ecological justice. Through our strategic partnerships between the academy, religious communities, social movements, and the broader public, we aim to inform and support the work of those dedicated to justice and deep solidarity.

Activities

The program investigates matters of economic and ecological justice and their implications for religious communities and the wider public as an integral part of theological and religious reflection. Research is the foundation of the work of the program. Economic and ecological relationships, as well as their intersectional relations with race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, continue to be underexplored even though they play an essential role in the formation and re-formation of religious communities.

The program educates the academy, students, religious communities, activist communities, and the broader public on matters of religion and justice through university course offerings, continuing education events, workshops, trainings, and international academic conferences. It also educates by disseminating its findings through academic publications and popular media.

The program is focused on organizing more just relationships, drawing on and developing further, long-standing commitments of religious and activist communities. In the Christian traditions, organizing broadens the horizons of what has traditionally been called ministry and discipleship. In other traditions, organizing broadens inherent concerns of community and solidarity, advocacy and mobilization.