Graduate Students

Matthew Anderson

mma54@georgetown.edu

B.A. (1999) Hampden-Sydney College
M.A.R. (2003) Westminster Theological Seminary

Matthew's graduate studies explore Islamic approaches to modernity, Christian-Muslim relations, and the theological and social challenges posed by religious diversity. As a research assistant at Georgetown, he has worked with the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. A recipient of a 2015-2016 Boren Fellowship, he is presently conducting doctoral research on religious freedom in the Islamic tradition in Amman, Jordan.
 

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.

 Nicholas Boylston

njb43@georgetown.edu

Islamic Studies, Persian Studies, Qur'anic Studies

B.A. (2007) Harvard College, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Sanskrit and Indian Studies
                                                          M.A.(2011) The University of Tehran, Islamic Philosophy

Nicholas Boylston studies Persian literature and Islamic intellectual history through the lenses of religious, intellectual and literary pluralism. He is particularly interested in the way 12th century Persian authors create texts that are discursively pluralistic - drawing on multiple sources and espousing multiple intellectual and ethical perspectives - whilst also maintaining both narrative and intellectual consistency. He also researches literature as a means of negotiating multiple religious identities in late Qajar Iran, focusing on the versified commentary and translation of the Qur’an by the Shi’ite Sufi, Safi ‘Ali-Shah. These projects are part of a wider concern for understanding how Muslim authors have come to terms with the diversity of their own tradition and understood the religious other in differing cultural contexts.

He is currently writing a dissertation entitled, “The Significance of Religious Diversity in the Works of Sana’i, ‘Attar and ‘Ayn al-Qudat Hamadani,” and was Preceptor of Persian in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, 2014-5.

CanzonaJoshua Canzona

jsc99@georgetown.edu

Christianity and Islam

EdM (2008) Harvard Graduate School of Education, Teaching and Curriculum
MTS (2007) Harvard Divinity School
MA (2004) University of Chicago, Social Sciences
BA (2003) Loyola New Orleans, Philosophy and History

Joshua grew up in rural North Carolina and lived in New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, and Raleigh before coming to Georgetown. A former public school teacher, he has written and presented on pedagogy concerns in religious studies and maintains an interest in creative approaches to the American deficit of religious literacy. As the senior editorial assistant in Georgetown's Office of Scholarly Publications, he has contributed to a wide range of book projects published by leading university presses. His own research interests include narratives of disenchantment, miracles and modernity, the phenomenology of religious experience, religion and art, and sacramentality.

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! 

FischbachRahel Fischbach

rf247@georgetown.edu

Islamic Studies with a focus on Qur'anic Studies

2009 Master in Islamic Studies/Middle East Studies and History at the Free University, Berlin, Germany
2006 – 2007 Middle East Studies at Columbia University in the City of New York
2004 – 2005 "Stage de Langue d’Arabe en Vue de la Rechèrche” at IFPO/IFEAD (Institut Français du Proche Orient), Damascus (Syria)

Rahel was born and raised in Berlin, Germany where she obtained her master degree in History and Islamic Studies – initially for the practical reason of contributing to the societal discourse on Muslim immigrants in Europe. Another strong incentive for her studies was interreligious dialogue in which she had already been involved during her high school years. 

She studied Islamic and Arabic studies at different institutions and in various countries, including Germany, the USA, Syria and Lebanon. While she mainly focused on political Islam and fiqh (Islamic law) during that time, her focus shifted towards more philosophical and theoretical topics when she came to Georgetown University for Religious Studies and Theology in 2009. Her major focus has been Qur'anic Studies.

Her thesis analyzes the political nature of modern Qur'ān scholarship, and how scriptural discussions are used to negotiate ethical concerns, both societal and political. In particular, she examines how the historical-critical approach—developed and canonized in a Western academic context—is perceived and contested by Muslim and Christian Arab thinkers, principally in Lebanon. Her work ties epistemological, hermeneutical, social and political questions together.

In between, Rahel worked as an international projects manager for a documentary film company that was at the time producing a film on the economics of oil.

Rahel is one of the two founders and presidents of the Georgetown Graduate Association for Islamic Studies.

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 third-year doctoral student focusing on the history of late antique Christianity (as broadly defined) and late classical and early medieval Islam. He has an interest in how Muslim-Christian relations and Islamic law intersect as well as in how sectarian divides within Islam influence interfaith relations with Christians. Steve is in the early stages of exploring Sunni and Shi‘ite fiqh about dhimmi as well as examining Christian Arabic accounts to see how Christians fared comparatively under ‘Abbasid and Fatimid rule in Palestine. He has a particular interest in the Palestinian monastery of Mar Saba, one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world, and a monastery of great importance during the first few centuries of Muslim-Christian relations and dialogue.

Steve also 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 at the Prince Al-Walid bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in researching and writing a book on Christianity in the Middle East, and during the 2016-17 academic year, has worked with Dr. Julia Lamm as a teaching assistant for a class on early Christian thought as well as a course in ethics.

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.

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 current research interests focus on religious pluralism, public theology, and civil society in the context of contemporary China with particular attention given to urban Christianity.

Some of his previous work includes projects in critical pedagogy and intercultural communication for global citizenship, community based research methods for urban ministry, and curricular frameworks for integrating inter-religious and missional studies. 

Previously, Easten taught intercultural relations at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, D.C., and Anhui Normal University in Wuhu, 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 earthquake which struck Southwest China in 2008.

Having grown up in Silver Spring, MD, Easten splits his baseball loyalties between the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles.  In his free time he enjoys reading poetry and fiction, getting lost in art galleries, going on nature hikes with his six year old son, and dancing with his one year old daughter.  Nothing is better than a good cup of tea and conversation.

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.

MuglerJoshua Mugler

jcm350@georgetown.edu

Christianity, Islam

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

Josh studies the interactions of Christianity and Islam, especially in the Middle East, and has a particular interest in the history and present situation of Arab Christianity. He is fascinated by sacred places and the religio-political rhetoric that so often surrounds them, including rhetoric of both exclusion and inclusion.

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 first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Theology. His main research revolves around the comparative study of religion and film in East Asia, with particular attention to Chinese contexts. On the one hand, he is interested in the ways that religiosity is visualized and performed via film, whether in explicit fashion or as subterranean current. On the other hand, he is keen on investigating the confluences between religious and cinematic phenomena, whether in terms of historical evolution, phenomenological experience, or pragmatic function. 

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 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 cinema (he especially admires the work of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Ann Hui, Koreeda Hirokazu, and Lee Chang-Dong), meaningful conversations, and spending time with his fiancée.

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.

Matthew D. Taylor

mdt46@georgetown.edu 

Islam and Christianity, Comparative Religion 

MA (2012) Fuller Theological Seminary, Theology
BA (2003) University of California-Irvine, English and Religious Studies

Matt's dissertation project compares the contemporary approaches of Evangelical Christians and Salafi Muslims to their scriptures (the Bible and the Hadith, respectively). It challenges the flattening label of fundamentalism that many have used for these communities to explore the dynamic ways that Evangelical and Salafi communities discuss, interpret, and use their sacred texts. Drawing upon ideas of consensus, commonsense reasoning, and communal boundary definition, he analyzes the modes by which religious communities develop scriptural identities.

Matt is also an elder at The Georgetown Presbyterian Church and a member of the Company of Teachers for the Reformed Institute of Metropolitan Washington.

WelleJason Welle, OFM

jw546@georgetown.edu

Islam and Christianity

MDiv, Catholic Theological Union, 2009
MTS, University of Notre Dame, 2003
BA, St. Olaf College, 2001, English/Religion

 
My dissertation project will focus on the notion of companionship in a treatise by the Sufi master ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami (d. 1021).  I’ll be looking at the different forms companionship takes with members of different social and religious groups and how those practices of companionship reflect and shape one’s knowledge of God and one’s growth in virtue.  The project will contextualize al-Sulami’s understanding of companionship in a religious milieu in which scholars of hadith, still-developing legal schools, and various spiritual paths offered competing claims for legitimate access to saving knowledge.  Beyond the thesis project, I’m broadly interested in Muslim-Christian relations, from the medieval period unto today, and in particular in Franciscan engagement with Muslims.

I’m a native of Albany, a small farming town in central Minnesota, and can turn that accent on upon pious request.  I joined the Franciscan friars of the Assumption BVM Province (Wisconsin) in 2003 and professed my solemn vows in 2008. I am active in sacramental ministry at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, where I have resided since I came to Georgetown, and serve occasionally as a pilgrim guide in the Holy Land.  When I’m not busy with academic work, I can be found in the early morning jogging around Washington in preparation for some upcoming marathon, or late at night in the courtyard of the monastery with some work of fiction in hand.

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!