Sign on main campus representing faith and justice
Category: Faculty Impact, General News, Policy Perspectives, University News

Title: Reverend Jim Wallis Joins Georgetown as Inaugural Chair in Faith and Justice, Will Lead New Faith and Justice Center

Date Published: August 16, 2021

Georgetown and the University’s McCourt School of Public Policy today announced that Jim Wallis, founder of the Christian social justice organization Sojourners, will join the McCourt School as the inaugural Chair in Faith and Justice. 

Reverend Wallis, a well-known public theologian, will also lead a new Georgetown University center, the Center on Faith and Justice, devoted to deepening our understanding of the role of faith in society and civic life. 

“Reverend Wallis brings deep knowledge and experience in urgent contemporary issues at the intersection of faith and justice,” said Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia. “We are very grateful for the expertise he shares, and look forward to all that he will contribute to our academic community through this new Center.”

“I am so deeply honored and grateful for this generous invitation from Georgetown,” said Reverend Jim Wallis. “I can’t imagine a better community and forum to protect imago dei, the image of God, in all human beings; and serve the common good at this critical moment in history. The issues of justice run deep; none are more important than the threats to democracy that we are watching in America and around the world which are not just political issues, they are tests of faith. The spirituality of democracy and the soul of the nation will be core to the work of this new Chair and Center.”

This new endowed chair and center were created through an $8.5 million gift from an anonymous donor. Wallis will join Georgetown on July 1, 2021.

Examining the Relationship Between Faith and Public Life

The McCourt School of Public Policy will welcome Reverend Wallis, who has for many years taught courses on faith, race, and politics as an adjunct faculty member of the McCourt School, as the inaugural holder of the Endowed Chair in Faith and Justice. This new chaired position will support expanded teaching, writing academic and non-academic articles, and outreach to policymakers and practitioners. 

“Faith and faith organizations have a critical role to play as we consider how government and civil society address issues from poverty to climate change,” said McCourt School Dean Maria Cancian. “We are pleased to welcome Reverend Wallis, who will broaden and enrich the perspectives informing our discussions of how best to advance the common good.”

Reverend Wallis previously taught courses in faith and politics through Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

A Center Grounded in Faith and Justice

The gift also allows for the creation of the Georgetown University Center on Faith and Justice, led by Reverend Wallis.

The Center on Faith and Justice will advance a deeper understanding and integration of faith and moral public policy into our political and civil discourse, help to reshape the nation’s political narrative, and advocate for more compassionate and just policies that prioritize the needs of historically marginalized people and communities and increases their ability to thrive and flourish.

The Center on Faith and Justice will focus on four key programmatic areas: racism, poverty, peace, and justice—in all their religious, moral, personal, and systematic dimensions. It will bring together students, scholars, practitioners, religious leaders, policymakers, and media to reshape how faith is discussed and understood in relation to our civic life. In addition to the courses taught by Reverend Wallis, the center will create educational opportunities in partnership with leaders from Capitol Hill, grassroots communities, seminaries, and other faith-based institutions and advocacy groups around the country.  

The center will convene public and private dialogues committed to promoting civil discourse and public policies in pursuit of a more compassionate and just society, and will serve as a trusted source and advocate on the moral dimensions of political issues—reaching government officials, multi-faith leaders, local activists, and a wide audience across the nation.

“The Center on Faith and Justice will expand our educational and curricular collaboration on and off the Hilltop,” said Georgetown University Provost Robert Groves. “We welcome Jim Wallis to our community and look forward to his enrichment of its mission.”

The new center joins an existing array of Georgetown centers, programs and initiatives that explore critical issues at the intersection of faith and the common good, including the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.

Rev. Jim Wallis

Globally Respected Justice Advocate

Jim Wallis is a globally respected writer, teacher, preacher, and justice advocate. He is a New York Times bestselling author, widely recognized public theologian, renowned speaker, and regular international commentator on ethics and public life.  

Raised in a Midwestern evangelical family, as a teenager Wallis questioned the racial segregation in his church and community, which led him to the Black churches and neighborhoods of inner-city Detroit. He spent his student years involved in the civil rights and antiwar movements at Michigan State University. 

He is the founder of Sojourners, author of 12 books, including Christ in Crisis: Reclaiming Jesus in a Time of Fear, Hate, and Violence; American’s Original Sin; God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It; The Great Awakening, and The Call to Conversion; and host of the popular podcast The Soul of the Nation.

He served on President Obama’s White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He also serves as a Research Fellow at the Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Wallis was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Georgetown University in 2007, when he gave the commencement address.