Faculty Stories

Sara A. Williams to Join the Faculty as Director of Field Education and Assistant Professor

Sara Williams

Sara A. Williams will join the faculty of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary as assistant professor of community-based learning, ethics, and society, and will direct our field education program in that capacity, effective February 1, 2021. This appointment comes as the seminary seeks to expand its field education program to incorporate community-based pedagogies into the curriculum. Williams brings a wealth of expertise in the areas of community-engaged and experiential learning, social justice, Christian ethics, ethnographic research method, and religion and the social sciences.

“As theological education pivots to providing knowledge and skills that benefit people in the larger church and community alongside teaching students, we at Garrett-Evangelical have found an excellent scholar-practitioner to help us move into this reality in Sara Williams,” said Dr. Mark Teasdale, who chaired the search committee and serves as the E. Stanley Jones professor of evangelism. “Sara is an emergent scholar who already has an impressive level of academic sophistication, including having developed a model that explains and guides theological educators in the practice of pedagogy within the nascent field of Community-Based Learning. More than this, she is an able administrator and community organizer, who is excited to make the Field Education Office a catalyst for mutual growth for everyone touched by it: the student, the field site, and the seminary. We see great promise for Garrett-Evangelical with Sara becoming part of our faculty in the new Community-Based Learning position.”

Williams comes to Garrett-Evangelical from Emory University where she is currently finishing her doctor of philosophy in religion in the area of ethics and society with concentrations in religious practices and practical theology and religion, conflict, and peacebuilding.

“I am thrilled to join the Garrett community,” said Williams. “It is a dream to find an institution with which I share a commitment to practice public theology by joining with community-led efforts to cultivate beloved community and form a more just and equitable society for all. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to practice my vocation at Garrett and in Chicagoland, an area replete with communities organizing for just social change.”

Williams holds a master of arts in religion from Yale Divinity School and a master of social work and graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Georgia. She has served at Miami University (Ohio) as associate director of community-engaged learning and coordinator for the Community and Place-Based Interdisciplinary Program. She has also served at Xavier and Georgetown universities as part-time instructor in the areas of theology and social justice.

Prior to entering academia, Williams worked for several domestic nonprofits and international NGOs in social work, nonprofit management, and human rights. She currently serves as co-chair for the Religion and the Social Sciences Unit at the American Academy of Religion and co-convener for the Fieldwork in Ethics Interest Group at the Society of Christian Ethics.

In addition to several articles currently under review, she has published in Glossolalia, Critical Research on Religion, the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning. She has also authored public scholarship in Religion Dispatches, The Cincinnati Enquirer, State of Formation, and Earth & Altar.

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.