Graduate Students

Halla Attallah

ha409@georgetown.edu

Islam, Qur'ānic and Biblical Studies

MA (2010), American University of Paris, Middle East and Islamic Studies with Language
BA (2000), University of Washington, Comparative Religion

Halla studies narratives from the Qur'ān and Hebrew Bible with special attention to the Abrahamic figures and their role in shaping religious identities throughout history. She is interested in the interaction between scriptures and society as well as the manifestation of religious rhetoric in contemporary sociopolitical discourse. At Georgetown she has been working to establish a methodological framework for approaching religious texts and has developed deeper interests in literary criticism, postmodern theories and feminist theology. Halla is fluent in Arabic and French and is currently studying Biblical Hebrew. Other research interests include early Islamic history, the biography of the prophet Muhammad and the compilation of the Qur'ān.  She also enjoys playing the electric guitar, rotating through coffee shops, and learning stop motion animation.

Danielle Clausnitzer

Dlc112@georgetown.edu

A graduate of both Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA (Bachelors in Religion and Africana Studies, 2014) and the University of Georgia in Athens, GA (Master of Arts, Religion, 2016), Danielle’s current academic home is in the Theological and Religious Studies department at Georgetown University. During her time at these institutions, Danielle’s primary research interests have included African Inspired Churches and African Pentecostalism(s), the role of gender in religious development, Diasporic identity formation, and a plurality of other African and African American church organizations and their histories. Danielle also has a profound interest in education, as she was afforded the opportunity to teach several religion classes during her time at the University of Georgia.

A native of Minnesota, Danielle resigns herself to being a traitor on the ice, as she remains a die-hard Blackhawks fan. In the off-season, Danielle can be found practicing yoga, baking, or walking around D.C. with her chihuahua, Allie.  

Joel D. Daniels

jd1573@georgetown.edu

Christianity and Confucianism

MTS (2015) Boston University
BS (2002) Lee University

Joel’s research focuses on how religious philosophy shapes the world, life, and life in the world. By comparing Western Christianity and East Asian religions, Joel is interested in examining how one’s ontological and cosmological construct directly affects one’s life and praxis. Additionally, Joel is interested in how scientific advancement, particularly in neuroscience, provides insight into how one makes decisions, the repercussions or benefits from religious practices, and how to better understand consciousness. 

Before coming to Georgetown, Joel served as a pastor for ten years in Tennessee and Massachusetts. Joel is fortunate to continue interacting with religion in this way by serving as a Chaplain-in-Residence with the university. When outside of academics, Joel enjoys all things family! With an amazing wife and three wonderful children, there is never a dull moment in the Daniels’ house. Whether it is building legos or forts, there’s always fun to be had! 

Jordan Denari Duffner

Duffner

Jordan Denari Duffner is a second-year PhD student of Islam and Christianity, focusing on Catholic theologies of Islam. Previously a research fellow studying Islamophobia at the Bridge Initiative, she is also a former recipient of a Fulbright grant to study Muslim-Christian relations and depictions of Islam in Christian television in Amman, Jordan. She is the author of Finding Jesus among Muslims: How Loving Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic (Liturgical Press), and her writing on Islam and Catholicism has appeared in numerous publications including The Washington Post, TIME, and America.

FriedmanMichael Friedman

mdf58@georgetown.edu

Modern Jewish Thought, Judaism in America

MTS (2010) Harvard Divinity School, Buddhist Studies
BA (2008) Yale University; Religious Studies, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

Mike is a fifth-year doctoral candidate working in Jewish Studies. His research focuses on the "turn to spirituality" in contemporary American Judaism, with attention to developments such as the growth of Jewish-Buddhist encounter and Jewish mindfulness practices. Over the past few years, Mike's research has received generous support from the Wexner Foundation, the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, the Duke University Center for Jewish Studies, and most recently the American Jewish Archives. Before moving to DC, Mike earned a Master of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School in Buddhist Studies and a Bachelor of Arts cum laude from Yale University in Religious Studies and Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations. Mike also has a special interest in pedagogy, having previously taught courses in history, religion, and philosophy at The Lawrenceville School, Phillips Academy Andover, and the Sidwell Friends School.

Steven Gertz

smg237@georgetown.edu

Islam and Christianity

MPhil (2010) Islamic Studies and History, Oxford University
MSc (2006) Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh
BA (1997) History, Wheaton College

Steve is a doctoral candidate focusing on how sectarian allegiances impact and shape inter-religious relations, and consequently how sectarian identity forms in a religiously diverse society. He is currently on a fellowship funded by the University of Notre Dame, conducting research for and writing his dissertation at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem. Steve is surveying Fatimid Isma‘ili fiqh on dhimmis (Jews and Christians), and doing so in conversation with David Freidenreich’s research on Shi‘ite juristic reasoning regarding non-Muslims. In addition, Steve is seeking to understand how both Isma‘ili fiqh and the Fatimid application of that law impacted Palestinian Melkite Christians living under Fatimid rule during the fifth/eleventh century through a study of both Fatimid and Melkite histories. He is also developing a class for undergraduates at Georgetown that will study sectarianism and how it impacts inter-religious dialogue and relations.

Previous to beginning his graduate studies at Georgetown, Steve spent about ten years in both academic and popular publishing. He first served as Assistant Editor for the magazine Christian History, then as Newsletter Editor for the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies in Oxford, and then as the Multimedia and Publications Editor of Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. Since entering Georgetown’s theology program, he has assisted Dr. Yvonne Haddad in researching and writing a book on Christianity in the Middle East, has worked with Dr. Julia Lamm as a teaching assistant for a class on early Christian thought as well as a course in ethics, and has helped Dr. Daniel Madigan update the Oxford Bibliographies Online section on Islam and Christianity as well as assisting with a class on the Qur'an.

Susie Hayward

sh1136@georgetown.edu

BA (2002) Tufts University
MA (2006) The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy 
MA (2007) Harvard Divinity School

Susie Hayward is a scholar practitioner working at the intersection of religion, violence, and peacebuilding with a focus on Asian contexts.  Prior to starting at Georgetown, she spent six years working in the Religion and Peacebuilding program at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and continues to support their work. In addition, she co-coordinated an initiative from 2010-2012 exploring the role of women in religious peacebuilding in partnership with the Berkley Center at Georgetown University.  

At Georgetown, Susie's research focuses on Buddhist and Christian theological responses to authoritarianism and violence in Myanmar/Burma.  Her broader research focus includes  interfaith engagement, feminist religious expression, and political Buddhism in Sri Lanka. She studied Buddhism in Nepal, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, and serves on the selection committee for the Niwano Peace Prize.

You can spot Susie riding around Georgetown on her bright orange scooter.  When not running around the world or around campus, she likes to throw on a backpack and head into the woods of West Virginia, explore the watering holes in her Petworth neighborhood, or kayak in the Chesapeake Bay.  

HermanPeter Herman

ph274@georgetown.edu

Christianity and Buddhism

MDiv (2011) Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
BA (1998) Drew University

Prior to Georgetown, Peter spent many years running away from a calling to theological study and reflection. This included time in Massachusetts, playing in and touring with several independent bands, a brief career as a cook, and a much longer, but no more successful, career in higher education administration.

Peter currently works on Comparative Theology of Liberation, employing James H. Cone's theories of Black Liberation Theology and the insights of Jōdo Shinshū (Japanese Pure Land) Buddhism. Through a comparative study of the relationship between different socioeconomic classes and racial groups within the same religious traditions, he hopes to find a satisfactory answer to Cone's challenge for White Theology to take seriously the project of Black Liberation.

While not engaged in theological research, Peter is likely racing his bicycle, cooking, or spending quality quiet time with his and his wife's two cats and their pitbull, Bean.

Kirsty Jones

Jones klj50@georgetown.edu

Kirsty Jones graduated from the University of Cambridge (B.A., MPhil) in June 2016, specializing in Hebrew Bible, before spending time as a visiting scholar at the Concordia Centre for Sensory Studies in Montreal. She researches disability and the senses in scripture, and wrote her thesis on disability in prophetic utopias. She is passionate about the intersection between biblical studies and contemporary ministry, and is a research associate for the Kirby Laing Institute of Christian Ethics.

 

Chris Kalaitzidis

Chris Kalaitzidisck925@georgetown.edu

Chris's background is in continental (B.A.) and analytic philosophy (M.A.). He minored in Religious Studies and both of his undergraduate and graduate theses were written on topics related to the philosophy of religion. He is currently pursuing a Diploma in Interreligious Studies at a pontificate university in Rome, Italy . He is interested in exploring the philosophical aspects of interreligious dialogue and the relationship between modern secularism and religious pluralism.

 

KimRAY KIM

Ray Kim is a 3rd-year Ph.D student who specializes in Islam and globalization, particularly in East Asia. While at Boston College (Class of 2013: B.A. in Theology, Philosophy, and Islamic Civilizations), he primarily studied Comparative Theology between Islam and Christianity, and after having graduated from BC, he moved to Amman, Jordan for two years. While living abroad, he worked as a full-time Middle School Social Studies teacher and a High School MUN Director at a private international school in Amman. He also volunteered part-time as an English instructor at various NGO's working with the refugee population.

Easten Law

egl31@georgetown.edu

Religious Identity and Public Life in Modern China

B.A. (2005) Wheaton College, Illinois - Communication & Spiritual Formation
M.A. (2009) Wheaton College, Illinois - Intercultural Studies
M.DIV (2015) Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC.

Easten's research focuses on religious pluralism, public theology, and civil society in the context of contemporary China.  For his dissertation he is examining how Chinese Christian identity is negotiated and expressed in everyday life via qualitative sociological methods. He intends to use this data to inform an interreligious public theology for the Chinese context. 

Previously, Easten taught intercultural relations at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, D.C., and Anhui Normal University in Wuhu, Anhui Province, China.  In addition to teaching, Easten has also provided trainings, lectures, and curriculum design in intercultural communication with a variety of faith communities and NGOs in the D.C. area and China, including the United Methodist General Commission on Race and Society, Mercy Corps, and local Chinese NGOs responding to the Sichuan earthquake that struck southwest China in 2008.

Some of his previous work includes projects in critical pedagogy and intercultural communication for global citizenshipcommunity based research methods for urban ministry, and curricular frameworks for integrating inter-religious dialogue and Christian ministry

Nathan Lean

nathan.lean@georgetown.edu

Islam and Christianity

MA (2013), Georgetown University
MA (2010), East Carolina University
BA (2007), East Carolina University

Nathan’s research interests focus on religious pluralism, Muslim-Christian relations, discourse and religion, anti-Muslim prejudice, and the dynamics of engagement between Muslims and Christians in North Africa. Prior to his doctoral study, Nathan served as the Director of Research at Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative. Nathan is the author of The Islamophobia Industry (Pluto, 2012), the co-author of Iran, Israel, and the United States (Praeger, 2010), and the co-editor of The Moral Psychology of Terrorism (Cambridge Scholars, 2013). He is the author of an upcoming volume, Understanding Islam and the West (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017). A native of North Carolina, he enjoys watching baseball, surf fishing, and spending time with friends and family.

linKathy Lin

nkl17@georgetown.edu

Buddhism, economic and environmental ethics 

M.T.S. (2017), Harvard Divinity School - Buddhist Studies 
M.B.A. (2015), MIT Sloan School of Management 
A.B. (2008), Harvard College - Social Studies

Kathy Lin is interested in contemporary matters of environmental and economic ethics, particularly in how our global economic systems contribute to the on-going processes of climate change. She hopes to work with East Asian Buddhist sources in constructing an ethical response to questions of material sufficiency and enoughness in the face of finite planetary resources.

Mugler Joshua Mugler

jcm350@georgetown.edu

Christianity, Islam

MTS (2012), Harvard Divinity School, History of Christianity
BA (2010), Oklahoma Baptist University, Religion

Josh Mugler studies Christians in early Islamic history, especially in the Middle East. He has a special interest in sacred places and the religio-political rhetoric that so often surrounds them, including rhetoric of both exclusion and inclusion. His dissertation focuses on Christopher, patriarch of Antioch in the 960s, who was assassinated by rebels for his loyalty to the local Muslim ruler. The Life of Christopher, written about 60 years after his death, depicts a world of complex interactions between Christians and Muslims, including a Muslim neighbor who warns Christopher about the assassination plot and tries to help him escape the city. Through the lens of this text, Josh is examining the author's construction of a diverse local identity that included both Christians and Muslims, in opposition to Byzantine Christian rulers who sought to foment hostility between the religious groups for political gain. The author of the Life remembered Christopher as a Christian martyr, but refused to present Muslims as uniformly evil.
Josh has taught classes on Christian-Muslim relations within Georgetown as well as in local churches and other contexts. He has studied Arabic extensively, including in Egypt and Jordan, and is also using Syriac and Greek for his dissertation research. He is a native of the St. Louis area and a Cardinals fan. He enjoys traveling with his wife, Grace, and spending time with their cat, Helena.

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James Shelton Nalley

jsn35@georgetown.edu

Comparative Theology: Christianity and Islam

M.T.S. (2016) Harvard Divinity School: Comparative Theology,
B.A. (2012) Christopher Newport University: Philosophy and Religious Studies

Shelton's research focuses on philosophical theology as it relates to the spiritual life, and how the contemporary incarnation of comparative theology offers an opportunity to enrich our understanding of one another, our traditions, and ourselves.  While he is interested broadly in both historical and contemporary encounters between Christianity and Islam, he is particularly engaged with the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and Ibn al-'Arabī.  Shelton seeks to reimagine the works of Aquinas, through an encounter with Ibn al-'Arabī's intellectual mysticism, in the same way Aquinas reimagined Christianity as a result of his encounter with Greco-Arab philosophy.  

Shelton is from North Carolina, though during college basketball season his heart is at the University of Kentucky.  When he is not studying he enjoys cooking, working out, and watching horror movies.

Teng-Kuan Ng

tn415@georgetown.edu

Religion and Film in East Asia

M.T.S. (2013), Harvard Divinity School - East Asian Religions
M.A. (2010), Fuller Theological Seminary - Theology
A.B. (2005), Princeton University - Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies

Teng-Kuan is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Theology. His main research interests revolve around the comparative study of religion and cinema in East Asia, with particular attention to transnational Chinese contexts. On the one hand, he studies the ways that religious traditions are visualized and performed via film, whether in explicit fashion or as subterranean current. On the other hand, he investigates the confluences between religious and cinematic phenomena, whether in terms of historical evolution, phenomenological experience, or pragmatic function. His academic work has been published in Religions and the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.

Prior to graduate studies at Georgetown, Teng-Kuan worked on study abroad programming and co-curricular experiential learning trips at Yale-NUS College, Singapore's first liberal arts college. And before that, he studied and worked in various cities in the U.S. and China for eleven years, including four summers coordinating the Princeton in Beijing intensive Chinese language summer program hosted at Beijing Normal University. 

In his leisure, Teng-Kuan enjoys good films (he especially admires the work of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Ann Hui, Koreeda Hirokazu, and Lee Chang-Dong), meaningful conversations, and exploring the D.C. area with his wife.

Tasi Perkins

tbp2@georgetown.edu 

Islam and Christianity, Interreligious Narrative Theologies

M.Div (2005) Duke Divinity School
BS (2002) Cornell University,Statistics and Biometry

Tasi Perkins is a fifth-year PhD student in the Department of Theology. A graduate of Cornell University (Statistics & Biometry, 2002) and Duke University (Master of Divinity, 2005), he pastored a United Methodist congregation for four years before returning to academics. After a year of doctoral work at Boston University, where he focused on narrative paradigms for interreligious nonviolence, Tasi moved to Georgetown in 2010. His research focuses broadly on theological dialogue between the Islamic and Christian doctrines of God. His forthcoming dissertation is entitled,“The Thirst, and the Sun, and the Bleeding”: al-Ḥusayn as a Passible Liminal Figure in ʿAlid Hagiography. Prompted by Jürgen Moltmann's challenge to the normative assumption that God cannot change, feel, or suffer, this dissertation proposes a principally Shi'ite narrative account in which God is fully present in the passion and death of the Prophet Muḥammad's grandson in the year 680.

Tasi is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and served for eight years as a chaplain-in-training in the United States Navy. Born in American Samoa, he locates his familial roots in New England.

Stephanie Marie Wong

smw236@georgetown.edu

Chinese Catholicism, Confucianism and Christianity

MDiv (2013) - Yale Divinity School
BA (2010) - Washington University in St. Louis, Religious Studies, English Literature

Stephanie is studying the development of Catholic theology in China.  At Georgetown, she studies Catholicism in China from a variety of angles:  First of all, she studies the intellectual traditions that inform Chinese Christianity, focusing in particular on Catholic theology and Neo-Confucian philosophy.  Secondly, she researches the history of the Catholic Church in China, not only the missionary movements but especially the development of the indigenous Chinese church.  Finally, Stephanie is interested in ongoing efforts to articulate a Chinese Catholic theology, researching 20th and 21st century efforts to express Christian faith in terms of Chinese culture.

Before coming to Georgetown, Stephanie earned a Masters of Divinity at Yale Divinity School, where she focused on both pastoral concerns of the church as well as Chinese Christian history.  In 2011, she participated in the Yale China Travel Seminar to China studying Chinese Christianity, and in 2013, participated in the Yale-Chinese U. of Hong Kong workshop on sociology of religion in Hong Kong.  She has studied Mandarin at Yale, Georgetown, and Minzu University in Beijing.

When not doing research, Stephanie enjoys serving as a Chaplain-in-Residence for Georgetown undergraduate freshmen, inviting students to share their own experiences of religious diversity around DC and facilitating conversations about religious identity on campus.  Stephanie is grateful for the rich intellectual environment that Georgetown provides!