Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Duke Divinity School Dean Elaine Heath has announced the formation of an Academic Affairs Task Force on Gender and Sexuality Student Concerns. 

The task force will be chaired by Sujin Pak, assistant professor of the history of Christianity, and members will include Divinity School professors Mary McClintock-Fulkerson, faculty advisor to LGBTQIA+ student group Sacred Worth; Douglas Campbell; and Divinity School Registrar and Senior Director for Academic Programs Christine Pesetski, who was responsible for developing student support resources in her previous role as an assistant dean at Duke University.

Said Heath, “Many churches today are struggling with how to approach issues related to gender and sexuality. Some of our students have raised concerns that in many ways echo the difficulties Christian institutions are facing in a rapidly changing world. As part of our strategic planning process, we’ve already been discussing the steps we as a school can take to cultivate a more welcoming and inclusive community. The task force will look specifically at gender and sexuality issues as they relate to academics and student affairs.”

The task force will begin by identifying concerns related to curriculum; student affairs and student conduct; preceptor training on implicit bias and harassment based upon gender, sexuality, and race; and new student orientation on implicit bias and harassment. The group will also meet with students and then work with Dean Heath to propose action items and a timeline for implementation.

Said Pak, “In order to prepare our students for faithful service in the church and the world, we need to ensure that our formational and academic programs are equipping them to engage the on-the-ground contexts and living bodies and communities in the world we live in today. Duke Divinity School seeks and is in the process of better seeking to grow into its ideals and values as a community in Christ, which includes affirming our LGBTQIA+ students as an integral part of that community.”