Scholar Activism

Supporting scholar-activists through convenings, peer learning, research, and networking.

Auburn convenes scholar-activists to encourage peer learning, to support their research, and to network. We understand there is strength in numbers. When we put the right people together in the right room, we know it yields positive change. Through accolades like Walter Wink Scholar-Activist Award, the CrossCurrents Research Colloquium, and additional support, Auburn continues to equip and support leaders for the multifaith movement for justice.

The CrossCurrents Research Colloquium brings together fellows (religious scholars, sociologists, clergy, activists, artists and others) who have dedicated their work on topics pertaining to faith-based social and religious justice. The Colloquium offers a unique opportunity for in-depth scholarly exploration by creating a harmonious environment conducive to research, discourse, collaboration, and reflection.

At the Colloquium, fellows pursue individual and group research for focused and facilitated discussions and seminars. Exemplary work is eligible for publication and exposure in CrossCurrents. Since 1950, CrossCurrents, is the preeminent quarterly publication for multi-denominational, faith-based participants and leaders alike.

2020 Annual Research Colloquium

Spend three weeks in New York during July working on a research or writing project related to the theme, “Oppressions and Repair,” with access to libraries and research facilities at Columbia University, Union, Auburn, and Jewish Theological Seminaries.

Our topic is suggested by issues currently in the news, but we invite projects that focus on the historical background as well the artistic, political, theological or autobiographical dimensions.  We welcome applications from those who consider themselves to be activists who would appreciate the opportunity for the time and space needed to reflect upon their work, gaining feedback from their peers.  Participants will work on research or writing projects related to our theme and collaborate with others in the group to strengthen and support their work. Media training will be offered to assist participants who seek a wider audience.

This topic is intentionally broad, covering multiple forms of oppression as well as efforts to repair the trauma and harm that result. We seek applications from scholars and writers, artists and activists, or those whose work crosses lines of academic discipline. Especially welcome are projects that focus on restorative justice, reform of the criminal justice system, reparations that might address the harms caused by slavery, native genocide or land theft. Also welcome are projects that focus upon distributive justice, economic equality and repair of the earth itself.

We invite applications from those interested in faith-rooted efforts to shape a more just and peaceful world. Individual (or team) research projects are the focus of the fellowship, with late afternoon seminars, followed by shared dinners that allow ample time for conversation and collaboration. Possible projects might include:

  • historical case studies;
  • theological analysis or ethical critiques of pertinent social movements;
  • visionary projects that explore the ways in which the cause of healing and repairing the world can be more effectively advanced;
  • projects that focus on our theme within specific fields or bridging disparate fields.


About the Colloquium

The Colloquium had been offered for over thirty years. Since 2012, CrossCurrents has partnered with Auburn Seminary in continuing this program. It brings together “fellows” (scholars of religion, sociologists, clergy, artists, activists and others) who have worked on questions such as those outlined above and offers an opportunity for in-depth scholarly exploration of commonalities and differences. By creating an environment conducive to research, open reflection and scholarly inquiry, participants are encouraged to learn from others who have studied different or convergent topics, bringing perspectives from their different fields.

In addition, fellows will be given the opportunity to participate in Auburn’s Media Training and will be encouraged to consider ways to bring their work to public audiences.

At the Colloquium, fellows spend three weeks together, pursuing individual research as well as gathering as a group for focused and facilitated discussions. Those who are selected for a fellowship are referred to as “Coolidge Scholars” after William A. Coolidge, the principal benefactor of this program. Each Coolidge Scholar works on his or her own project, but benefits by being able to collaborate with others. The collegial relationships that develop within the group are a crucial element of this program and one of its distinctive aspects. The work of the fellows is eligible for publication in the journal CrossCurrents.

If you have further questions about the content of the Colloquium, please contact:

Colloquium Logistics and Schedule
The Colloquium takes place July 6-24, 2020. The daily schedule allows a balance of structured and unstructured time, including:

  • Time for individual research, reflection and consultation with fellows and staff;
  • Seminars for facilitated and focused discussion that also integrate work-in-progress reports by fellows;
  • Common meals and opportunities to explore the artistic and cultural resources of New York City.

The Colloquium is residential and provides fellows with room and board (vegetarian/kosher food available) as well as round trip travel to and from New York. Also provided is access to libraries and research facilities at Columbia University, Teachers College, Union, Auburn and Jewish Theological Seminaries. Participants are required to pay a $125 registration fee upon acceptance.

Eligibility and Application
The successful applicant will be capable of writing for a publication of the caliber of CrossCurrents. Normally, fellows will hold doctorates; some will have professional degrees or ordination; a few will qualify by reason of equivalent experience.  For ideas on the types of projects we encourage, please check the CrossCurrents website to view back issues of the journal.  Application requirements:

  1. Title and brief description (1-2 pp.) of the applicant’s proposed project.
  2. A brief resume including religious affiliation or preference (if any), academic standing and professional experience.
  3. The names, titles, institutional addresses and telephone numbers of two references. (You do not need to have these persons write a letter; we will contact references as needed.)

Applications are due by February 28, 2020.



If you have any further questions about the Colloquium or would like to explore the appropriateness of a project you are thinking about, please contact:
Charles Henderson, CrossCurrents, Executive Director
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 917-439-2305


The Walter Wink Scholar-Activist Award

To honor the legacy of Dr. Walter Wink, Auburn Seminary has established the Walter Wink Scholar-Activist Award to recognize courageous individuals who dedicate their lives to advocating for justice and peace in our world. Given annually at the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature Meetings, the largest gathering of religion scholars in the world, where Auburn hosts a reception as a dynamic gathering of like-minded, multifaith leaders igniting social change.

Dr. Walter Wink served on the faculty of Auburn Seminary for nearly 25 years as a beloved author, speaker and activist. Dr. Wink’s scholarship focused on Jesus and nonviolence, and on responding to a challenging world with love and compassion. His best-selling books include “The Powers That Be” (Doubleday 1999) and “Jesus and NonViolence” (Fortress 2003). With his partner, June Keener-Wink, Wink’s legacy includes workshops on leadership, activism and faith.



Dr. George E. “Tink” Tinker, a citizen of the Osage (wazhazhe) Nation, continues his career-spanning efforts both fighting for American Indian justice and challenging eurochristian students and communities to recognize their own history of violence on the continent. His classroom teaching and his publishing was always based on the ideal of activist scholarship. His research and publishing were never satisfied with merely advancing knowledge. Rather, he always tried to rock the boat of the status quo in order to point toward substantive change for justice.


Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters is a Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina. As a feminist and Christian social ethicist, Peters does galvanizing and cutting-edge work around reproductive justice, the subject of her most recent book, Trust Women. She builds on a decades-long commitment to work on poverty, inequality, globalization, and solidarity through her many modes of engagement, at Elon University and beyond, providing a compelling and vibrant example of the scholar activism.


Najeeba Syeed is associate professor of interreligious education at Claremont School of Theology and director of the Center for Global Peacebuilding. Her track record as a peacemaker and critical peace researcher has made her a sought out advisor and she has served as an on-the-ground peace interventionist in conflicts around the globe. Syeed’s peace and justice work has been the subject of news reports and documentaries, including NBC’s broadcast of “Waging Peace: Muslim and Christian Alternatives.”



Dr. Simran Jeet Singh is a 2018 Luce/ACLS Fellow for Religion, Journalism, and International Affairs and a Visiting Scholar at New York University’s Center for Religion and Media. He is also the senior religion fellow for the Sikh Coalition of America. Dr. Singh is a leading voice in the national conversation on Islamophobia, racial profiling, and hate violence.

2015 – Inaugural Award


Dr. Traci C. West is professor of ethics and African American studies at Drew University Theological School in Madison, New Jersey. She is globally recognized for her work on violence against women, racism, clergy ethics, sexuality, and other justice issues in church and society. Dr. West is an ordained elder in the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.