Drive east on Fern Street toward Hartford and you will eventually pass a starkly modern white building that sits across from the imposing stone campus of UConn Law School. If you’re like many people, you might take note of the building’s unusual architecture and idly wonder what happens at a place called Hartford Seminary.
Well, remember world peace? It’s something politicians used to talk about. Maybe a default birthday wish or a beauty pageant cliché as well. But it’s no less than world peace that’s at stake inside the white building on Sherman Street and the campus that surrounds it.
Hartford Seminary can trace its roots to a group of Congregational ministers that formed in 1833. As the name implies, the seminary once trained ministers and missionaries, among other vocations. But since 1972, the seminary restructured its program to focus on leadership development, educational outreach, congregational research and development, and Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim relations. The students and faculty here work to deepen their own faiths as well as to figure out how people of different faiths can communicate with and understand each other – a key to resolving the international conflicts we read about every day.
Hartford Seminary is a unique institution. It was the first seminary to admit women in 1889. It was the first nondenominational institution in North America to name a female president, and the first to name a Muslim to its core faculty. It has the only accredited program for Islamic Chaplaincy in the country, and it’s a leader in the field of Christian-Muslim relations.
Though internationally known, Hartford Seminary may still be a mystery to many of the West Hartford residents who live just a stone’s throw away. I hope to change that.
I’ll be writing this blog on a regular basis to let you know about courses you might want to take, events that are open to the public, and some of the interesting and influential research going on here. I hope you’ll follow along, and feel free to email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.