Student Stories

Doctoral Candidate Bryson White Awarded 2021-2022 Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship

Bryson White
Bryson White

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is proud to announce doctoral student Bryson White has been selected to receive a 2021-2022 Dissertation Fellowship from the Louisville Institute in Louisville, Kentucky. White is studying in the theology and ethics field of Garrett-Evangelical’s doctor of philosophy program. His dissertation is titled, Racial Rapture: Mass Incarceration as Distorted Eschatology.

The Dissertation Fellowship programs offers $25,000 grants to support the final year of Ph.D. or Th.D. dissertation writing. Preference is given to students engaged in research pertaining to North American Christianity, especially projects related to Louisville Institute mission priorities. This program is also open to students who may not intend to teach in theological education, but whose dissertation projects have the potential to strengthen the religious life of North American Christians and their institutions.

“I am grateful for receiving the Louisville Dissertation Fellowship and the support it affords to finish out my dissertation in the upcoming academic year,” said White. “I welcome the continued opportunity for fresh conversations with my cohort fellows, as we think critically about the role of our work in shaping American religious life. The current crisis that exists across different sectors of U.S. life is in continued need for theological attention, both in terms of deconstruction but more importantly in our reimagining new ways of constructing our public life together. It is my hope that my dissertation and the monograph that will ultimately emerge from it will be a valued contribution to this great task.”

White’s work and scholarship examine the ways in which Christian theologies come to inform carceral realities in the lives of Black and dispossessed persons. Particularly, he studies the ways in which Christian theologies as anti-Black discourse shape the theo-mythology of the ontological Black criminal which manifest themselves through the mass incarceration of Black people. He is interested in liberation theologies, theological anthropology, eschatology, democracy and freedom movements, carceral studies, Tupac Shakur, and American religious history.

He holds a master’s degree in theology and intercultural studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University at Northridge. White comes into the academy from the field of community organizing with the PICO National Network (now FIA) in his hometown of Fresno, California. As an organizer, Bryson organized clergy and lay leaders on issues such as mass incarceration, police accountability, housing reform, and gun violence reduction.

An ordained Baptist minister, White currently serves as the Regional Faith Leadership Coordinator for Faith In the Valley, a faith-based community organizing network in California’s Central Valley. He is also a kidney transplant recipient of 19 years and currently serves as a board member of Donor Network West, an organ, eye, and tissue outreach and procurement organization.

White is the son of Paul and Sheila White of Fresno, California. He is married to Jennifer White of Richmond, California and they are the proud parents of Kairos Grey White.

Louisville Institute is funded by the Religion Division of Lilly Endowment Inc. and based at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Louisville, Kentucky). The Louisville Institute’s mission is to bridge Church and academy through awarding grants and fellowships to those who study North American religious institutions, practices, and movements, and thereby promoting scholarship that strengthens Church, academy, society, and contributes to the flourishing of the Church.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.