"Globally Minded, Locally Engaged" : Why I Chose Yale - Chris Washnock, MAR Comprehensive '14

Greetings!  Every year we feature short essays from YDS students explaining why they chose to attend Yale.

Today’s comes from Chris Washnock, MAR ’14.  Chris is about to graduate from our MAR Comprehensive program and hails from South Carolina; in addition to being our YDS Student Council President, Chris is a very active member of our community, and an all-around great guy.  Thanks, Chris!

Chris Washnock

                                                                     Above: Chris Washnock MAR '14

As a college graduate with a profound interest in the intersection of religion, politics, and law across the globe, I enrolled in Yale Divinity School’s M.A.R. Comprehensive program in order to gain a more holistic understanding of how the Christian tradition informs and interacts with forces of faith and secularism in the modern world.  Courses in biblical studies, theology, ethics, church history, and even contemplative prayer have complemented those in Islamic law, Middle Eastern politics, and Christian-Muslim dialogue, preparing me for a life of public service.  There are few forces in modern politics as powerful as religion, and a better understanding our own traditions and biases prepares YDS graduates to lead lives of consequence in the church and world.

The access to both the intimate, supportive community on the Quad as well as the resources found in the broader University are among the greatest advantages to studying at Yale Divinity School.  As a YDS student, a day on campus may begin with a cup of coffee in the Common Room and ecumenical worship in Marquand Chapel, followed by lunch in the Refectory with professors like Denys Turner and John Collins, then a seminar alongside students from philosophy, law, and international relations programs, and end with an evening studying in Bass Library or the Hall of Graduate Studies.  YDS professors are incredibly supportive of innovative interdisciplinary projects; my time in the classroom connecting theology with contemporary world issues has been invaluable to understanding how people of faith can act as agents of tolerance and peace rather than sowers of division and discord.

Untangling the tightly knit web of history, institutions, religion, and political discourse is a difficult project but one to which YDS students commit themselves as globally minded, locally engaged leaders of the twenty-first century.  There is no better place to study the challenges accompanying religion in public life than in a tightly knit, diverse community with access to the unimaginable resources at one of the world’s leading research universities.  The opportunity to live in an academically rigorous yet incredibly supportive ecumenical Christian community committed to the service of others has been one of the privileges of my life, and I will carry the lessons learned from Yale Divinity School into my future life and work.