HDS Makes New Faculty Appointment in Theology

May 14, 2014
HDS Makes New Faculty Appointment in Theology

Michelle Sanchez has been named Assistant Professor of Theology at Harvard Divinity School, effective July 1, 2014.

Sanchez is currently a doctoral candidate in the study of religion in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. She graduates later this May. Her dissertation is titled 'Providence: From Pronoia to Immanent Affirmation in John Calvin's Institutes of 1559,' and is under the direction of HDS professor Amy Hollywood. 

"I am delighted for the opportunity to continue my work alongside the wonderful faculty at Harvard Divinity School and our excellent, thoughtful, and concerned student body," said Sanchez. "With this appointment, I hope to foster renewed interest in the Christian movements of reform and complicated legacies of Protestantism in conversation with the ongoing study of religion, politics, and ethics at Harvard.

"My research is driven by a fascination with the complex interrelationships between theology, politics, and rapid social change that marked sixteenth-century Europe—relationships that play a crucial role in shaping the religious and political landscape of the present-day United States and beyond,' added Sanchez. 'I especially look forward to guiding students toward ways of reading theology that are attentive not only to the traditions themselves, but also to how theological writing responds to concrete historical conditions and general human concerns."

Sanchez holds a bachelor's degree from New College of Florida in philosophy and religion and a master of divinity degree from HDS. She has served as a teaching fellow in courses at Harvard, ranging from those on the Reformation and early modern Europe to contemporary religion and public life.

"Michelle Sanchez is preoccupied with how new possibilities for politics and ethics might take shape at the intersection of theology and patterns of living and thinking and how theological doctrines might help to reorient the self to a range of human realities, most especially the experience of suffering," said Stephanie Paulsell, Houghton Professor of the Practice of Ministry Studies at HDS. "Michelle has shown, in her work on John Calvin, how critically engaging the theological work of one era can help us address the questions of our shared present. I am excited that this vital, original thinker will be joining our faculty."

In 2012, she was recognized by the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning for excellence in undergraduate teaching. She also received a Denie S. Weil Teaching Fellowship in Religious Ethics at Harvard. She has been active with regional and national scholarly groups, including the American Academy of Religion, focusing on theology in historical and contemporary contexts.

Outside of the academy, Sanchez has served as an instructor at Fourth Presbyterian Church in South Boston, where she has led classes on theology and theatre, community organizing, and faith.

"Michelle Sanchez has established herself as a first-rate scholar of historical and contemporary theology and philosophy," said Dean David N. Hempton in announcing the appointment. "In her public lecture this spring, titled 'The Frame of the Universe Should be the School of Piety: The Role of Providence in Calvin's Project of Reform,' she engaged in historical, theological, and philosophical modes of analysis in ways that were original as well as deeply informed and learned. She impressed the faculty search committee as the most appealing and exciting candidate for the position of assistant professor of theology. We look forward to welcoming her this fall and to having her teach and mentor Harvard students at both the Divinity School and in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences."

—by Jonathan Beasley