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Sara M. Perisho Eccleston, M.S.

Doctoral Student, Department of Human and Organizational Development

Program: Community Research and Action
Admission year: 2015

Sara Eccleston explores the intersections of religion, race, and community development. My research agenda uses Critical Race Theory to explore the ways that faith can function (or not) as a motivator and method of racial justice organizing. My dissertation, which is an ethnographic project, follows a local Episcopalian community group that is working to foster racial reconciliation in their diocese. I ask questions about why this community is working for racial reconciliation, how they imagine “beloved community,” and the role their faith plays in the process. I also work with Leah Lomotey-Nakon to co-facilitate racial justice education groups for the local Episcopal diocese. We study how and why participants engage this group, the impact of the group on their understandings of race and racism, and what role community-education might play in racial justice work.

I am funded in part by the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative of the Vanderbilt Divinity Schoo and the Bonsal Applied Education Award. I am mentored by Dr. Sarah Suiter, director of the Community Development and Action (CDA) program.