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Certainly ethicists have always asked the normative questions about what is right and good. That hasn’t changed since I did my doctoral work at the GTU in the early eighties. Relying on the canonical work of Tillich, the Niebuhrs, Durkheim, Rahner, Weber, Barth, and others for a grand unified theory, we focused on identifying laws, norms, and principles that guide behavior.
Today, we find ourselves in a more particularized, diverse, post-modern intellectual world, where we can’t assume that one size idea fits all. To engage the complex issues that emerge, contemporary scholars now draw from a broader spectrum of religious traditions and cultures.
This has changed the debate and the participants, making theological scholarship and discussion vastly more interdisciplinary and intercultural. It also distinguishes practice from theory to a greater degree. While the GTU has historically been both theory and praxis-based, we are now more conscious of justice and public policy issues and how our work has concrete relevance today.
The GTU’s programs are distinctive because of our commitment to both scholarship and its practical application in a complex, conflict-ridden world. In my 12 years as president, I am still amazed and always proud to hear of student dissertations, such as those on topics ranging from cultivating compassion, to a theological response to U.S. involvement to state-sponsored torture, to a restorative approach to women in prison. I also am both proud and humbled by the excellent work of our distinguished alumni.
In addition to our academic programs, the GTU is a vital contributor to the community, hosting compelling colloquia on special topics, interfaith holiday celebrations, and public lectures by renowned scholars on important issues of the day.
We remain a vital and vibrant global force in interfaith education in a time of extraordinary change and continued economic challenge. We look forward to the next 50 years.
James A. Donahue