Highlighting Community: Princeton Grad IV Social Justice Discussion

At ESN, we like to share about various campus ministry settings, including InterVarsity graduate and faculty local fellowships. We usually do this in our Highlighting Community series. Today, we highlight the relaunch of the Princeton InterVarsity Grad Student Group. 


I’ve recently moved to the Princeton (NJ) area, and while here I have the privilege of helping restart the Princeton Grad IV chapter. My main responsibilities continue to be with the ESN blog and our national events, but I’m also delighted to be serving on campus at Princeton. I thought I’d share about our first gathering. I hope it may provide some ideas or encouragement for other groups. We’re starting with once a month meetings. Our goal is to encourage graduate students and postdocs to make an impact for God’s Kingdom through their academic work and presence on campus.

Format: Professor shares for 15 minutes about their own experience of a topic, then leads a discussion with participants

First Speaker: Dr. Lisa Bowens of Princeton Seminary

First topic: Integrating Social Justice with Academic Research

Quick summary:

Dr. Bowens shared about her research on African American interpretations of Paul’s letters. Although there were many misuses of the letters of Paul in white American defenses of slavery, there’s also a long tradition of African American reflection that sees the writing of Paul as a force for liberation. Dr. Bowens teaches a course at Princeton Seminary that explores these interpretations of Scripture, and some of her academic research is on that body of work. She described how she explores social justice in that tradition through her research and then led a discussion.

Quotes from Attendees:

I enjoyed discussing how Social Justice relates to our faith as Christians and how it can relate to our work. It was also refreshing to hear how there is a history of African-Americans finding encouragement in Paul. – Graduate Student

I greatly appreciated hearing Professor Lisa Bowens speak on her own experience navigating and engaging in social justice issues as a student and faculty member, and the ways faith has influenced her activism, teaching, and interactions with students. It was convicting to look back on historical examples of Scripture being applied as a force for good, particularly Paul’s message of freedom in Christ in slave communities, amidst widespread misinterpretation and oppression, and the ways in which God is moving the hearts of students and faculty on college campuses today. – Graduate Student

If you’re a grad student or postdoc in the area, or if you’re a faculty member or alumni who would like to get involved, get in touch with us here. Feel free to use the same contact link if you’d like to submit a Highlighting Community post about an event or community supporting Christian academics.

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Hannah Eagleson

Hannah Eagleson is a writer/editor on staff with InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). She edits ESN's collaboratively written devotional for academics. Hannah also crafts other community-building events and materials for ESN. She holds a PhD in English literature, and she’s working on a novel about a dragon who gave up fending off knights to become a tea importer in eighteenth-century England.

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One Comment

  • aspasmos123@gmail.com'
    Mary Ann Eagleson commented on February 13, 2018 Reply

    Very exciting to see this!

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