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Public Policy Expert and Scholar Steven Harris to Discuss Secular and Biblical Perspectives on Justice at Veritas Forum

Public Policy Expert and Scholar Steven Harris

On Thursday, February 1, 2024, the Hub for Spiritual Life and the Pepperdine Chapel program will be cosponsoring “Which Justice Is Just?” a talk by Steven Harris, senior director of Academic Programs at the Center on Faith and Justice at Georgetown University. Harris will discuss both secular and biblical perspectives on justice during the Veritas Forum event at Elkins Auditorium at 7 PM. The Veritas Forum invites university communities to dialogue with respect and curiosity about the ideas that shape our lives and puts the Christian faith in conversation with other beliefs.

“Through Veritas, we hope that students get the opportunity to wrestle with big ideas and be changed by them,” says Cameron Gilliam, director of Student Ministries at the Hub for Spiritual Life. “The global conversation about what justice is and how to pursue it has become increasingly more important over the past several years. The next generation of student leaders care deeply about justice, and for good reason. ”He adds, “What kind of justice is truly just? Where do biblical and secular ideas of justice converge and conflict? Does that even matter? Can groups with differing views on justice work together? And if so, how? These are some of the important questions we hope students get the opportunity to reflect on, let shape their thinking, and even spark an interest that leads to a lifelong pursuit of justice.”

Harris is a faith-based public policy expert and scholar of American religious history and African American studies. Prior to arriving at Georgetown, he spent several years on Capitol Hill building coalitions and working on domestic and international policy issues at the intersection of religion, justice, and human dignity. In 2018 he testified before the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs in a hearing entitled, "Protecting Civil Society, Faith-Based Actors, and Political Speech in Sub-Saharan Africa." His testimony focused on the human rights and national security interests related to constricting civil society spaces in Sudan, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The following year Harris spent time in South Korea interviewing North Korean defectors about human rights violations in that country and produced a documentary film of those interviews entitled, Humanity Denied. Recognizing a lack of concern and investment in criminal justice and racial healing in Southern states, Harris helped procure a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative grant to expand faith-based engagement and education on those issues. 

Additionally, Harris volunteered with the Joe Biden presidential campaign and Faith 2020, helping develop faith outreach strategies while also planning and participating in virtual campaign events.

In the world of academia, his research interests lie at the historical intersection of Black religious thought and Calvinistic theology. He is currently considering the theo-logics of historical Black religious actors in conversation with the contemporary discursive edges of critical race theory and Afro-pessimist thought. His most recent commentary and writing has interrogated the joining of religion, race, and politics in the contemporary US.

Attendees will enjoy a free meal from Chick-fil-A, as well as chapel credit. Learn more about the upcoming event “Which Justice Is Just? A Conversation with Steven Harris on ‘Secular’ and ‘Biblical’ Perspectives on Justice” on the Veritas Forum website.