Judith Oleson

Judith Oleson headshot
Lecturer, Co-Director, Program on Religion and Conflict Transformation
DMin, Episcopal Divinity School
MPA, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
MSW University of Minnesota

Judith Oleson is the Co-Director of the Program on Religion and Conflict Transformation at Boston University School of Theology, where she also teaches courses in Transitional Justice, Reconciliation and Conflict Transformation. Her research and writing include reconciliation processes between Indigenous Communities, Governments and the Church for years of child removal policies that resulted in cultural genocide in the US, Australia, and Canada. She is also interested in the relationship between individual and collective healing and cross sector partnerships for social change in post-conflict communities.

Judith previously founded and coordinated an interdisciplinary minor in Peace and Conflict Studies at Gordon College, where she taught in their Sociology/Social Work Department for ten years. With her colleagues at the European Center for the Study of War and Peace in Croatia, Judith developed a course in post-conflict social reconstruction that she continues to teach in the Balkans. A tenured professor at Gordon College, she directed the Field Practicum Program and taught courses in Group Process, Organizational Systems, and Qualitative Research Methods.

Before coming to academia, Judith served for almost thirty years as a community practitioner; a school social worker, assistant director for a number of nonprofits, and Executive Director of a Family Services Collaborative. Due to her leadership in cross-sector partnerships for social change, Judith was honored as a BUSH Leadership Fellow, enabling her to attend the Kennedy School of Government where she studied leadership and advanced mediation/negotiation. She completed an internship at the UNDP Global Compact Program in New York and then served on a UN mission to Kazakhstan to mediate and rebuild UNDP/Corporate partnerships.

Judith completed her DMin at the Episcopal Divinity School, where she studied reconciliation processes in South Africa, Israel, Palestine, Egypt and the US. Her dissertation identified key characteristics and skills needed for leaders to facilitate reconciliation in conflicted organizational and community contexts. She has served as a consultant in “organizational healing” for both congregations and non-profits. Judith earned a certificate from the Boston Theological Institute in Ecumenism and currently coordinates partnership activities between BUSTH and Hebrew College.

Judith and her husband Mark live in Gloucester, where they provide hospitality (through Airbnb) for Peace and Justice workers, artists, and others in need of respite and renewal while visiting beautiful Cape Ann.