History of the Program
The program in Religion and conflict transformation builds on the work and contribution of various partners. Beginning in the mid 1990’s, the Boston Theological Institute engaged with member schools to provide information on how churches deal with conflict. From 1997 on, the BTI instituted an international workshop and seminar to study how faith communities in different parts of the world dealt with conflict.
Then, in 2001 the BTI partnered with the Justpeace Center for Mediation to begin work in Restorative Justice with churches and prison chaplaincies. Justpeace and BTI held conferences on Restorative Justice which explored the emerging movement of restorative justice as an alternative to retributive justice; its theory, its theological and biblical grounding and its practices. These conference were focused on not only the criminal justice system but on the culture of the church in the world.
In 2003, the Board of Trustees of the BTI voted to establish a Certificate program in Religion and Conflict Transformation. This certificate is awarded by the BTI in recognition of courses taken in Religion and Conflict Transformation, and related areas, at the schools of the Institute. Ray Hart, Dean of Boston University School of Theology offered his institution to provide an anchor for the program.
In 2004-05, the Henry Luce Foundation granted Boston University School of Theology, in partnership with the BTI and Justpeace, $25,000 to advance institutional planning for a Specialization in Religion and Conflict Transformation. This program built on the work of BU as well as other seminaries by piloting the religion and conflict transformation specialization. The pilot programs at BUSTH and BTI enrolled its first students in the fall of 2006. There were 15 students in the specialization/certificate program during that academic year and 29 students in the program during the 2007-2008 academic year. 12 students were awarded the certificate in 2008-2009.
In November 2008, the School of Theology received a three-year grant of $375,000 from the Luce Foundation to help realize its broader vision for the program. The grant supports a full-time program coordinator, teaching assistance, and administrative support needed to sustain the program. The grant also provided scholarship support for students, and stipends for practicum or internship placements.