Faculty Stories

Taurean J. Webb Named 2021-2022 Religion and Public Life Fellow at Harvard University for Second Straight Term

Taurean Webb
Taurean J. Webb

The Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative (RCPI) at Harvard has named Taurean J. Webb a 2021-2022 Religion and Public Life Fellow. This is the second academic year he will hold the non-residential fellowship. Webb has served as the director of the Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) and instructor of religion and race at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary since 2019.

In addition to supporting his scholarship through the coming academic year, the RCPI was the original incubator—and will be one of the early host sites—for the visual arts exhibit that Webb is executive producing in 2022, a project featuring artists from the African- and Arab- diasporas. Through portraiture, word-art, and music technology, this integrative art exhibition, entitled “Ye Shall Inherit the Earth & Faces of the Divine,” invites artists to reflect on the relationship between humanity and the sacred. Patrons will journey through different representations of the sacred as expressed through human culture, religious expression, and social movement-building. The exhibit plans to open virtually and in-person in early 2022, then travel for most of the year.

Hilary Rantisi, associate director of Harvard’s Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiative, says, “we are delighted that Taurean will be continuing for a second year with the Religion, Conflict and Peace Initiative at the Religion and Public Life program at Harvard. His work showcasing the connection between divinity and freedom-work is beautiful, and his exploration and framing provide a pivotal canvas on which the trials, tribulations, and, we hope, the overcoming of injustice can be seen by all of us. We look forward to showcasing the exhibit he is curating on campus and feel so fortunate to have his contributions be part of our work.”

The exhibit plans to tour different academic and cultural institutions, places of worship and artist collectives including: Garrett-Evangelical, Northwestern University, the University of California – Berkeley, Spelman College, Trinity United Church of Christ, the Palestine Museum US, and BOOM Concepts Museum of Pittsburgh. Of this work Webb says, “I’ve been heartened by the excitement that this show has garnered across the country. I think it bespeaks the ability of the arts to tap into the human spirit in ways that no other medium can. And I’m especially grateful for the bold leadership of President Viera, Dean Tran, and others here at Garrett, allowing me the creative latitude to explore innovative directions for faculty research, student engagement, CBE visioning, and of course, seminary education, broadly.”

Webb is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College, with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and religion. He holds master of arts degrees in Black and cultural studies from Columbia University and Northwestern University. He is currently completing the doctor of philosophy degree at Garrett-Evangelical, writing a dissertation on how 20th century Black religious leaders engage the “question of Palestine” domestically and abroad. His research and creative work have been supported by the Forum for Theological Exploration, Columbia University’s Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice, and Harvard University’s Religion and Public Life Program. You can follow the Inherit Exhibit at @inherit_exhibit22 on Instagram for tour schedules, photos, and artist exclusives.

The RCPI is an initiative of the Religion and Public Life (RPL) program at Harvard, including a robust program of research, coursework, internships, fellowships, and experiential learning, all engaging the roles religions play in contemporary Middle East culture, public policy, and international affairs. The initiative examines the potential for a more sophisticated and capacious understanding of religion to yield fresh insights into contemporary challenges and opportunities for just peacebuilding.

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.