Person, Community, and Religious Life

Course of Study Description

The Person, Community, and Religious Life (PCRL) Course of Study provides opportunities to explore basic questions of religious practice that occur at the intersection of religious and social science studies of persons, communities, and cultural systems. This broad scope of inquiry encourages work in such areas as human development, education, sociology, psychology and the sociology of religion, homiletics, pastoral counseling, practical theology, spirituality, congregational studies, and other areas of research. Students draw on faculty scholarship in the above fields and are encouraged to do interdisciplinary work in the other areas of the GDR and across the university.

PCRL students may take advantage of Emory’s many rich and varied educational and research resources, including The Carter Center, the Georgia Association for Pastoral Care (a counseling center), the Emory Center for Ethics, the Emory Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion, and the Emory Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life.

Because of the breadth of the PCRL Course of Study and the rich variety of course offerings available, students work with faculty to craft their studies around their own intellectual and vocational goals.

  • Those students who plan to teach in a college or university religion department usually pursue issues in the theory and practice of person and community in relation to religious studies.
  • Students seeking teaching careers in seminaries and theological schools generally focus their programs on such practical theological fields as religious education, pastoral theology, homiletics or liturgics.
  • Some students combine clinical supervision in pastoral or other professional disciplines with their academic work in order to broaden and supplement their future careers. Programs of clinical or field supervision lie outside formal degree requirements. However, the PCRL faculty accommodate and encourage such interests when they are integral to a student’s vocational goals.
  • PCRL students may qualify for Emory’s joint JD/PhD degree. In addition, course work can be arranged to qualify for specialized universitywide certificates in such programs as Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Psychoanalytic Studies.

Preliminary Examinations

Please contact the course of study chair for this information.

Special Requirements

Please contact the course of study chair for this information.

Selected Courses

Please consult with the chair of the course of study for more information.

Recent Dissertations and Placement Information:


Rachelle Green.
"Learning to Live: Social Death, Redemptive Practices, and Theological Education in a Women's Prison" - Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Education


Courtney Buggs, "Beyond the Pulpit: Lay Perspectives on Black Laywomen Performing Religious Authority" - Assistant Professor of Homiletics, Christian Theological Seminary

Mark Andrew Jefferson,
“Beyond the Talented Tenth: W. E. B. Du Bois, the Hip Hop Emcee, and the Reimagination of African American Homiletics” - Assistant Professor of Homiletics, Virginia Theological Seminary


Johann Choi,
"Re-thinking/embodying Pastoral Theology:  Ritual in the Care of Moral Injury in Veterans"

Layla Karst,
“Reimagining Pilgrimage” -Assistant Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University

Matthew Lawrence Pierce, "The Place of Place in Liturgical Theology" - Director, Business Retention & Expansion at Iredell County Economic Development Corporation

Kimberly Wagner,
"From the Depths: Preaching in the Wake of Mass Violent Trauma" - Assistant Professor of Homilitics, Luthern School of Theology, Chicago


Antonio (Tony) Alonso, “Eucharistic Hope in a Commodified World” -Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture and Director of Catholic Studies, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

Katie Kime, "Higher Power, Brain Power: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis of the Spiritual and Religious Characteristics of 12-Step Recovery Programs in the Context of the Brain Disease Model of Addiction" - Assistant Professor of Religion and Psychology, University of Bern

Melva Sampson, "Fetching Spiritual Power: Black Women's Preaching Bodies as African Centered Womanist Oratory" - Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University.

Alphonso Saville, "The Gospel According to John Marrant: Religious Consciousness in the Black Atlantic, 1755-1791" - Religious and Civic Education Specialist, Leadership Training and Student Development, Scholar of American Religion, Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute

Ashley Coleman Taylor, "Pragmatic Embodiment: Race, Class, Gender and Religious Experience in the Puerto Rican Imaginary"


Elena Jefferson-Tatum, “Religious Matters: African (Vodoun) Materialities and the Western Concept of Religion,” Tufts University, Assistant Professor, Race & Colonization


Sarah Frances Rina Farmer (Poole), "Hope in Confinement: Toward a Pedagogy of Restorative Hope" - Yale University, Associate Research Scholar


Carolyn Browning Helsel, “The Hermeneutics of Recognition: A Ricoeurian Interpretive Framework for Whites Preaching About Racism" - Assistant Professor of Homiletics, Austin Presbyterian Seminary"

Jacob Myers, "Witnessing the Word Erotic: A Philosophical Theology of Proclamation" -Assistant Professor of Homiletics, Columbia Seminary