Millennial Leaders Pilot Summer Project
Union Theological Seminary is inviting 25-30 young leaders to attend its Pilot Millennial Leaders Summer Conference this July 13th – 17th. Union will pay all expenses for those invited. Eligible participants are leaders between the ages of 21-35 who have a demonstrated record of sustained social justice activism in their respective communities. These leaders may hold any sort of leadership position ranging from formal positions–such as with a religious community or non-profit organization–to less official roles that still demonstrate progressive leadership. Formal affiliation with a specific religious tradition or community is not a prerequisite and people with no formal religious affiliation are encouraged to apply. The only formal requirement for consideration is an interest in the intersection between spirituality and activism.
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About Millennial Leaders Pilot Summer Project
In the wake of what is now considered the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, issues of economic inequality in American society has crystallized powerfully, in both political activism and popular deliberations. A growing awareness of the stark inequality that exists between the rich and poor, between “elites” and “the masses,” captured the public’s imagination as a series of massive protests took form around the globe and were captured on television.
In the years since 2008, a number of grassroots efforts have mobilized with the aim of translating the energies of mass protests into ongoing organizing and activism in opposition to economic inequality and a host of attending issues. Significantly, such activism has attempted to advance a holistic program of progressive issues, as policies that maintain economic inequality have been tied to a broader conservative agenda that limits (and often rolls back) the rights and protections provided for women, racial/ethnic minorities, LGBTQ persons and immigrants. The interlocking nature of these inequalities is clear and the need for an intersectional analysis and collaborative response, which takes account of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and religious difference, is urgent.
While there are a number of grass roots efforts underway to combat this matrix of inequalities, it is not clear that there is a space where young leaders invested in such work and others who hope to get involved can find a place that will allow them to examine the relationship between spiritual traditions and social activism. Moreover, within the context of theological education, It is not clear where young leaders can go to engage in theological reflection alongside of grappling with more practical concerns (i.e. activist and spiritual practices) as they endeavor to most effectively address these issues.
Union Theological Seminary in New York City is in a unique position to provide such a space. Union has a longstanding legacy of leadership in theological education, as well as a history of participating in progressive activism and public engagement. Here one thinks of the role liberal, black and feminist/womanist and queer theologies in various movements, but also the long history of Union faculty playing a prominent role in putting forward a progressive religious voice in the public square–from Reinhold Neibuhr and Paul Tillich to James Cone, Serene Jones and Cornel West.