What you'll learn

  • A deepened sense of how “sudden lifts” can generate substantive and impactful change—internally and externally

  • A widened appreciation of the varieties of “grace” and naturalness beyond one’s spiritual practices or tradition(s)

  • An enlivened yearning to explore—either independently or through structured teaching and learning platforms—the traditions, cultures, literature, and texts examined during the five days

  • An enlarged community of friends and relations that emerge from participants’ interactions with the teaching faculty, staff, and, most of all, from each other

  • To interrogate applied theology/spiritual practices and ritual through improved reading skills

  • A transformative, fun and engaging experience for participants, faculty, and staff that will have a lasting impact after the program concludes.

Course description

Our 2023 session, “The Graciousness of the World and a Life Well-lived," takes the following question of Augustine as an initial trail-marker: “What do I have that I have not received?” Augustine invites us to reflect on how awareness of something first overlooked but then seen as foundational can find an expansive spot in our daily experience. In the blink of an eye, it can alter forever the trajectory of our lives and beyond. In some Christian circles, this human experience is called an openness to “grace,” while in some Buddhist circles, it is called a trust in “naturalness.”

Whatever it may be called, human experience of the new life that emerges from this new awareness consistently suggests that it is not only the case that there is work to be done in a life well-lived but that something present in the world itself is there to bring our work and our lives to fulfillment and it is our great good fortune that this something else is so present.

Across five lively and concentrated days of collaboration, close reading, and multilayered exercises, a team of faculty members from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Business School will share their insights and reflections about religious and non-religious meanings of "the graciousness of the world” and its relevance for how we think about making change in a “world on fire.”


Practitioner in Residence in Religion, Business Ethics, and the Economic Order
Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America at Harvard Divinity School; Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences
John A. Bartlett Professor of New England Church History, Harvard Divinity School
Victor S. Thomas Professor of Africana Religious Studies at Harvard Divinity School; Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals; Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church of Harvard University
Assistant Dean for Ministry Studies and Field Education; Instructor on Ministry at Harvard Divinity School

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