Institutes & Initiatives

Union Forum

The Union Forum encompasses the institutes and initiatives at Union Theological Seminary, and provide innovative ways for seminarians to put what they learn in the classroom directly into practice, as they work to create a more just world. Through the Union Forum’s extensive programming, the seminary encourages public engagement around global issues through seminars, lectures featuring world-renowned activists and thought leaders, and specialized course offerings.

These programs reflect Union’s historic commitment to living the world’s claims upon the church and offer a unique opportunity for students to develop skills in areas that range beyond the traditional seminary education. At Union, students have the opportunity to live out their commitment to social justice through art, food justice, human rights advocacy, and ministry among and on behalf of the poor.

To learn more about the Union Forum, contact Derrick Harkins, Senior Vice President for Innovation in Public Programs.

Institutes at Union

The Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice

The Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice seeks to learn from, strengthen, and expand transformative movements for social change, led by the poor and drawing on the power of religious traditions and human rights. From decades of work in a wide range of struggles for dignity and rights, and building off our cornerstone program, the Poverty Initiative, they have seen the power of religious leaders and faith in building power, organization, and community.

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The Center for Earth Ethics

The Center for Earth Ethics (CEE) is a forum for education, public discourse and movement building that draws on faith and wisdom traditions to address our ecological crisis and its root causes. CEE regards climate change as the consequence of a deeper malady: an economic development model that exploits people and nature for short-term financial gain. CEE cultivates the public consciousness necessary to make changes in policy and culture that will establish a new paradigm based on the sustained well-being of all people and our planet.

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The Islam, Social Justice, and Interreligious Engagement Program

The Islam, Social Justice, and Interreligious Engagement Program (ISJIE) promotes academic and public education aimed at cultivating diverse Islamic responses to pressing social justice issues. It seeks to generate innovative and informed discourse on topics, such as climate change, racism, religious pluralism, violence, poverty and economic inequality, incarceration, and gender and sexuality.

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Vision – Cultivating Pastoral Eschatological Imagination

Since 2014, Union Theological Seminary has invited the commitment of pastors from the New York metropolitan area to participate in a two-year program that supports and sustains ministry at mid career. The program works to introduce collaborative leadership models, to develop and sustain new ministries, and to build and support clergy relationships across denominations and religious traditions. This work is done with the commitment of the Eli Lilly Foundation to encourage clergy as they envision their work for the future, and to look, with committed pastoral imagination, at all the possibilities that lie ahead.

Women's Interfaith Residency Program

For the last three years, the Women’s Interfaith Residency Program at Union Theological Seminary has invited five women from different faith backgrounds to commit to life together in Intentional Community at Union. Their conversations have explored new contexts for interfaith dialogue, reflected in community on what conversations across religious traditions mean, and cultivated close relationships.

Public Programs at Union

Millennial Leaders Project

Millennial generation activists, leaders, and organizers who have a demonstrated a strong record of sustained social justice will convene at Union July for the fourth annual Millennial Leaders Project (MLP) Summer Conference.

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Encore Transition Program

The Encore Transition Program at Union Theological Seminary engages a diverse group of like-minded 55+ adults in a four-month program of discernment, dialogue, and decision-making about what an “encore” stage of productive and experienced adulthood might look like.

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