In addition to the nine courses of study, the Graduate Division of Religion has specialized program possibilities that allow for concentrated research in four areas: Religious Practices and Practical Theology; Performance, Arts, and Religion: Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding; and Global Christianity.

Performance, Arts, and Religion Concentration

The Performance, Arts, and Religion concentration (PAR) in the Graduate Division of Religion will support and train doctoral students who intend to research topics related to the complex relationship between the arts, performance and religion. The concentration will guide students to integrate the theoretical study of religion (including ritual, affect theory, aesthetics and performance studies) with art traditions (including music, dance, and visual arts) in diverse cultural and regional contexts. The concentration will foster students to become astute analysts of performance traditions and perhaps also performers/practitioners themselves.


The emerging field of performance studies investigates the diverse ways that cultural ideals and symbolic meanings are conveyed through the arts with deep emotional impact and effective social power. Worship, liturgy, and ritual—all basic components of religious systems—depend upon performance skills and associated artistic traditions. Religious Studies analyzes ritual through assumptions about performance, but new trends in Performance Studies complicate and nuance these assumptions which rested on a binary division of thought/action. Performance is crucial not only for its emotive and affective power, but also for its bringing into focus the issues of aesthetics, agency, intentionality, and symbolic communication during religious events.  

Arts and performance demand an inherently interdisciplinary approach, utilizing a multiplicity of methods and theoretical constructs. Emory University is well positioned in terms of capacity and resources to nurture this concentration, which will foster closer cooperation between the GDR and programs in Music, Theater and Dance, and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. It will also foster cooperation with Emory’s Center for Creativity and the Arts.


  • To give GDR students competency in analyzing artistic traditions in relation to religious traditions and events.
  • To increase GDR students’ capacity to teach and research at the intersection of performance studies, aesthetics, and religion.
  • To foster a community of scholars at Emory—both students and faculty—who are practitioner-analysts.
  • To equip GDR students to integrate arts and performance skills into their intellectual profile and academic research.

Opportunities for Students

  • Regular gatherings (including colloquy and performances) with faculty, students and performers to share artistic insights, hone observation and analysis skills, and discuss emerging theories of performance.
  • Build community of students with shared interests and complementary skills in performance, arts and religion, and better connect with colleagues beyond Emory.
  • Acquire insight into topics, concerns, theories, and methods of enquiry related to the interdisciplinary field of performance and religion— including those that question or challenge dominant Western academic assumptions.
  • Guide students in the GDR to incorporate music, dance, theater and visual art into their future pedagogy.
  • Support students as they engage artistic traditions in their dissertations and incorporate performances into their research, presentations and publications.

Requirements for Concentration

Students must take two seminars (one core seminar and one elective) and also engage an artistic tradition through analysis, documentation or practice.

The core seminar is a specially designed seminar on “Performance Arts and Religion” that all students in the concentration must take; it may be taught in rotation by various faculty who are members of the concentration. 

The second seminar is an elective on a topic related to ritual, ethnography or performance theory; the concentration coordinator will maintain a list of seminars that are relevant and students will be expected to tailor their writing for the seminar to address the arts and performance. 

Each student must also engage an artistic or performance tradition, taking advantage of the music ensembles, dance troops, theater companies, museums or other institutions on campus or in the wider Atlanta community. Engaging a tradition may mean practicing that artistic tradition, analyzing its performances or products, or documenting communities of artists and performers. This engagement must be over two semesters and will be for credit through directed study, ensemble courses, or TATTO credit; the rationale behind this requirement is that practical experience engaging an artistic tradition is invaluable in building academic expertise.

After coursework and exams, students in the concentration are expected to design their dissertation topic to engage on the study of religion in the arts and performance.


The Concentration in Religious Practices and Practical Theology 

The concentration is a minor track that enables students in any course of study within the GDR to incorporate a focus on religious practices as part of their doctoral training and to be part of an emerging vital conversation important to both religious and theological studies. It is a way of augmenting and focusing work while fulfilling normal program requirements.

 It is designed especially for students who either want to:

  • specialize in one of the practical theological fields (e.g., religious education, pastoral care, homiletics, liturgics, congregational leadership) or 
  • specialize in any other area within the study of religion (e.g., Asian religions, ethics, Hebrew Bible, history, New Testament, psychology or sociology of religion, theology) in relation to the teaching and scholarship of religious practices.

The concentration offers special opportunities to participate in colloquia and to apply for funds to support research in religious practices and practical theology. 

Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding Concentration


The Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding Concentration in the Graduate Division of Religion supports and equips doctoral students who intend to teach and research topics related to violence and peacebuilding within the fields of religious studies and theology.


The Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding concentration fosters research, teaching, and engaged service in an emerging and important sub-field in the study of religion. The individuals involved in this initiative aim to deepen the understanding of religions' roles in fostering and sustaining violence and conflict, as well as religions' ability to transform conflict and build peace.

Emory University offers distinctive resources that enhance the RCP concentration. These resources include the diversity and depth of religious and theological studies across the Graduate Division of Religion, the interdisciplinary capacity and ethos of Emory, opportunities and appreciation for community-engaged research and pedagogy, and the university’s international connections and global commitment. In addition, graduate students at Emory receive significant professional development resources for teaching and alternative academic positions, training, research, and networking.

The RCP concentration includes students from different courses of study within the GDR. These students undertake work on various religious traditions and geographic locations, and they employ methodologies ranging from textual analysis or historical research, to ethnographic fieldwork or analysis of practices. The concentration provides a space where students with similar interests learn to navigate this complex interdisciplinary space, support one another and share their work, and reach beyond Emory and the field of religion to connect with related guilds and programs in peace and conflict studies.


  • To prepare students to teach and research in the areas of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding
  • To equip students to work with practitioners in the field
  • To foster a community of scholars in RCP at Emory

Opportunities for Students:

  • Regular gatherings with faculty, researchers, practitioners, and students across campus to share research and discuss emerging literature.
  • Orientation to peace and conflict studies and related fields, as well as help with building connections among colleagues beyond Emory.
  • Guidance in locating the student’s own research and teaching within the broader field of RCP; support for presentations and publication. 
  • Opportunities to teach in the university and theological school classrooms and in the community. 
  • Support for vocationally appropriate experiences related to the concentration (teaching a course in the Justice, Peacebuilding, and Conflict Transformation program at Candler School of Theology, undertaking an internship or fieldwork experience suitable to the concentrator’s plan of research, or some other experience).

Requirements for Concentration:

  • take two related seminars on the topic of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding during the first two years of course work. This related course could be defined broadly, including such topics as representations of violence in literature, theologies of reconciliation, ethics of intercultural communication, and so on;
  • include specific questions on religion and conflict and peacebuilding practices as part of the preliminary examinations; and
  • plan a dissertation topic involving research in religion and conflict and peacebuilding.

Global Christianity Concentration

The Global Christianity Concentration in the Graduate Division of Religion will support and equip doctoral students who intend to teach and research topics related to the study of Christianity in diverse contexts around the globe within the fields of religious studies and theology.

The emerging field of Global Christianity investigates the diversity of Christian communities around the world, with a particular focus on indigenous expressions in non-Western contexts and the experiences of under-represented or marginalized communities of faith globally. Its purview also includes the study of how non-western expressions of Christianity have impacted western societies. As an area of academic study and research, global Christianity is inherently interdisciplinary. It utilizes a multiplicity of models, methods and theoretical constructs; though it tends to be strongly oriented towards historical, social scientific and theological approaches. It also has strong roots in mission studies and the study of religious traditions other than Christianity.

The global Christianity concentration is expected to attract and include students from different courses of study within the GDR. These students will have a strong commitment to investigating Christian communities’ beliefs, practices and lifeways in a variety of contexts around the world, especially non-western ones, that are shaped by a multitude of historical and cultural experiences. The concentration will enable students to acquire and master a variety of theories, models, new rationalities, and methodologies (including intercultural critique and ethnographic study) that are central to this field of study. It will not only provide a common interdisciplinary space for students to support one another and share their work but also enhance their ability to participate in programs and scholarly communities beyond Emory.

The goals of the Global Christianity concentration are to

  • enable students to gain competency in the study of Christianity as a global phenomenon.
  • prepare students to teach and research in the field of global Christianity.
  • foster a community of scholars in global Christianity at Emory

Click here for more information on the Global Christianity Concentration