VDS Lifelong Learning Program

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About VDS Lifelong Learning Program

VDS lifelong learning program is Vanderbilt Divinity School’s hub of continuing education and lifelong learning for spiritual leaders who are passionate about social change and revitalizing their vocational calling to the world. It offers a rotation of a range of offerings, cohort-based certificate programs, learner-led on-demand asynchronous courses on single topics, and alumni peer learning groups, while promoting the cutting-edge and perennial wisdom-seeking work of VDS’s faculty to the broader public. 

As a space of relationship and continual theological education, VDS lifelong learning works to equip and connect leaders across all professional sectors to leverage the power of theological wisdom in our modern everyday world. Through our cohort-based certificates and short- and long-term classes, participants will expand their personal and professional horizons through rigorous theological education on urgent topics and by connecting with peers who are passionate about learning and applying the substance of theological inquiry into their own lives and ministries.

Explore what we offer and contact us with any questions you may have!


Aaron Stauffer

Aaron Stauffer

Associate Director

Rev. Aaron Stauffer, Ph.D. is the Associate Director of Online Learning and the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice at Vanderbilt Divinity School. His scholarly and organizing work lies at the intersection of the academy, the Christian church, and community organizing. His current book with Oxford University Press is titled: Listening to the Spirit: The Radical Social Gospel, Sacred Values, and Broad-based Community Organizing and will be released in February 2024. 

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Examples of Featured Courses

Faith in the Headlines Instructor: Lisa L. Thompson

Mobilizing people of faith for their engaged participation in everyday life relies on an ability to translate everyday matters of life as everyday matters of faith. Our being co-creators of a more just world relies on such translation, whether we are community organizers, clergy, non-profit leaders, scholars, or occupy other spaces as the everyday-faithful. The palpable nature of what it means to live in this world fills our social media feeds, news outlets, and daily chatter. Headlines are where life meets the public square. They are symptomatic expressions of deeper struggles, possibilities, joys, and sorrows in our pursuits of collective and personal wellbeing. This course helps those concerned with moving Christian communities towards greater risk-taking and accountability at the intersections of faith and society.

Moral Leadership: What is It, and How Are You a Moral Leader? Instructor: Laine Walters Young

This course will tour learners through the Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership's approach to moral leadership as applied, relational, experiential, interdependent, justice-focused, public, and communicative using Robert Franklin Jr.'s Moral Leadership: Integrity, Courage, and Imagination as a core text. Learners will leave the course with concrete practices for building and restoring trust, how to make their integrity known to those around them, and what courage and imagination looks like and can be applied in the everyday work of ministerial, social service, business, and nonprofit fields.  

The Religion of Carcerality and the Religion of Abolition Instructor: Andrew Krinks

Why do we have police and prisons? What role does religion play in building police and prisons, and what role might religion play in building a world without them? This course explores the religious roots and function of carceral institutions in the United States, as well as the religiosity of movements that aim to create conditions in which police and prisons are neither possible nor necessary. Participants will be invited to engage course material through theological reflection on their own experience and social context, and will obtain theological and practical resources for inviting their communities into the work of reimagining public safety.

Crisis in our Congregations: Building Powerful Communities in an Age of Disconnection Instructors: Aaron Stauffer, Mike Hodge

Community organizing can strengthen congregations. When the vast majority of faith leaders feel isolated and under-connected in an age of polarization, the art of active listening can help to reweave relationships within communities and develop leaders in our institutions. In the world of broad-based community organizing, the listening campaign is the crucial strategy that helps congregations and organizations identify the core values that tie them together and leads us to identify the right issues to act on in public. This course, by exploring the skill of active listening and the broad-based organizing strategy of the listening campaign, provides students with the opportunity to refine their skills of leadership and community building in order to identify and develop leaders and help their community organize to take action in public.


For questions, please contact Aaron Stauffer at aaron.k.stauffer@vanderbilt.edu.