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June 22, 2021 at 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM EDT



We come to the academy to be shaped into critical thinkers, independent minds, but we are often unaware of the spiritual and racial formation these models of the “educated man” carry. In his recent book, After Whiteness, theologian Willie Jennings untangles our pedagogies which are tied to the image of the white slave-master, drawing from his many years of experience in higher-ed, especially as an academic dean. And in her work in higher-ed in the sphere of student life and recently as the interim dean of students at Cornell University, Marla Love tackles questions of diversity, inclusion, and belonging on a daily basis. Join us in conversation about how we, as members of the academic community, can engage, resist, and imagine differently the spiritual and racial formation we’ve inherited.


Willie Jennings’ book The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race(link is external) (Yale 2010) won the American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Constructive-Reflective category the year after it appeared and, in 2015, the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, the largest prize for a theological work in North America. Englewood Review of Books called the work a “theological masterpiece.” His commentary on the Book of Acts, titled Acts: A Commentary, The Revolution of the Intimate (for the Belief Series, Westminster/John Knox) received the Reference Book of the Year Award from The Academy of Parish Clergy in 2018.

Dr. Jennings has also recently published a book that examines the problems of theological education within western education, entitled After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging(link is external) (Eerdmans, 2020).

Jennings is now working on a major monograph provisionally entitled Unfolding the World: Recasting a Christian Doctrine of Creation as well as a finishing a book of poetry entitled The Time of Possession.

Writing in the areas of liberation theologies, cultural identities, and anthropology, Jennings has authored more than 40 scholarly essays and nearly two-dozen reviews, as well as essays on academic administration and blog posts for Religion Dispatches.

Jennings is an ordained Baptist minister and has served as interim pastor for several North Carolina churches. He is in high demand as a speaker and is widely recognized as a major figure in theological education across North America.

A Calvin College graduate, Jennings received his M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in religion and ethics from Duke.

Prior to her role as the Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Interim Dean of Students, Marla Love served as Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Equity working directly with the diversity and student empowerment units in the Office of the Dean of Students to create an intersectional programming model that engages our students in new and innovative ways.

She worked closely with our partners in Campus and Community Engagement, as well as in the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives to produce powerful synergies and collaborations that enhance the student experience and deepen our commitment to underserved student communities. She also worked closely with the Senior Associate Dean for Care and Crisis Services to find ways to blend our approach to crisis management with an inclusion model that keeps Cornell on the leading edge of campus-wide crisis management. She also serves as chair of the university’s Bias Assessment and Review Team (BART) for student only related bias incidents.

Prior to Cornell, Marla worked at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, where she served as the Director of Graduate and Professional Student Affairs. Prior to her time at APU, she served as the Assistant Dean of Students at Scripps College, where she held broad oversight on a number of social justice programs, crisis management operations, and Title IX responsibilities. Marla has held numerous roles in higher education and worked across multiple regions of the country, including time at Phillips (Andover) Academy in Massachusetts. She holds a M.A. in higher education through the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan and a B.A. in psychology from Calvin College in Michigan. Currently, Marla is pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education. 

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