Andrew M. Davis (CST ’13), Ph.D. Candidate, Joins Groundbreaking Program for Seminary and Divinity School Students

Andrew M. Davis, a Ph.D. student at Claremont School of Theology, is one of 12 seminary and divinity school students, and early-career clergy, chosen by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) to participate in a two-week program in Germany and Poland this summer. The program uses the conduct of clergy and other religious leaders in Nazi-occupied Europe as a way to reflect on contemporary professional ethics.

“I am honored to join this dynamic and diverse group of leaders,” said Davis, a second-year Ph.D. student who also received his Master of Arts at CST in 2013.  “This experience transcends a mere two summer weeks. It will shape the arc our lives, both personally and professionally, propelling our thoughts, our way of being, our future teaching and writing. It’s about learning from the horrors of the past so that we might, through our professional careers, create a world were Auschwitz can never be repeated.”

FASPE provides a unique historical lens to engage graduate students in professional schools as well as early-stage practitioners in five fields – business, journalism, law, medicine, and seminary – in an intensive course of study focused on contemporary ethical issues in their professions.

Davis joins a diverse group of 63 FASPE fellows across all five programs who were chosen through a competitive process that drew close to 1,000 applicants from around the world. FASPE covers all program costs, including travel, food, and lodging.

“We are so proud of Andrew and his dedication to compassionately understanding, exploring, and serving our world,” said Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, CST President. “He lives out what CST believes: we are all connected, our well-beings are tied to each other, and together we create a difference for the world we live in.”

The FASPE Seminary program examines the roles played by the clergy in the Nazi state, underscoring the reality that moral codes governing clergy of all religions can break down or be distorted with devastating consequences. With this historical background, the Seminary fellows are better positioned (and more willing) to confront contemporary ethical issues.

“By educating students about the causes of the Holocaust and the power of their chosen professions, FASPE seeks to instill a sense of professional responsibility for the ethical and moral choices that the Fellows will make in their careers and in their professional relationships,” said David Goldman, FASPE’s founder and chairman.

Davis, who was born in Santa Rosa, California, earned a BA in philosophy and theology from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and an MA in inter-religious studies from Claremont. After teaching high school courses in Biblical studies, systematic theology and world philosophies at his alma mater, Rincon Valley Christian High School, he returned to Claremont for his PhD in religion and process studies. Davis’s studies have taken him to multiple locations around the world. Having studied in India and Israel-Palestine and also traveled with Semester at Sea as an undergraduate, He is a firm believer in FASPE’s emphasis on “the power of place.”

“Augustine said, ‘The world is a book and those who don’t travel only read only a page.’ Mark Twain said, ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.’ Programs such as FASPE Seminary program provide a learning experience that a book can’t teach,” said Davis.

The experience of the Seminary fellows is enhanced by traveling alongside the Medical fellows, who together – in formal and informal settings – consider how ethical constructs and norms in their respective professions align and differ. In 2017, the two groups will begin their trip in Berlin on June 19 and travel on to Krakow and Oświęcim (the town in which Auschwitz is located), Poland, on June 23. In Berlin, the program includes museum visits, meeting with Holocaust survivors, and educational workshops at the House of the Wannsee Conference, the site where state and Nazi Party agencies convened in 1942 to coordinate plans for the Nazis’ “Final Solution.” In Krakow, fellows will continue their seminars at Jagiellonian University, one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities, and at Auschwitz, they will be guided by the distinguished educational staff of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

After the program, each fellow will submit an essay focused on a contemporary ethical issue of his or her choice. Select essays are published in the annual FASPE Journal, which showcases work in all five disciplines.

The Seminary program was initially developed by a committee including professors, priests, rabbis, and scholars from Georgetown University, Yale University, and Stonewall College. Since piloting the program in 2010, almost 90 fellows have participated from seminaries across denominations, divinity schools, and graduate programs in theology. FASPE Seminary fellows from prior years are now clergy, chaplains, theologians, and educators throughout the United States and the world.

CST is honored to have Davis represent our School in this important fellowship.