Strategic Plan

Welcome to Hartford International’s Strategic Plan page, where you will find information and resources about this important initiative. Our Strategic Plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in March 2020.

Strategic Planning and Rebranding

The Hartford International launched this project on Sept. 16, 2019 with the goal of creating a plan that will lead us in the future. The project steering team, co-led by Professor Deena Grant and Trustee Nancy Roberts, and our project partner rpk GROUP collected data and conducted interviews with faculty, staff, alumni, Trustees, donors, and community members. Additionally, the project Steering Team engaged in drafting a shared future vision (SFV) for Hartford International, which was then approved by the Board of Trustees in March 2020. In 2020-2021, we engaged a digital communications firm based in Pittsburgh to lead us through a rebranding process, culminating in Board of Trustees approval of a new name and logo in May 2021. The new name will be shared with the public on Oct. 13, 2021.

A Shared Future Vision

Hartford International will undergo a number of bold and exciting changes over the next few years, which is no surprise to anyone who has studied our history. These changes were in development before the coronavirus pandemic hit and before our national reckoning with racial injustice, but these two crises have helped to clarify the importance of realigning our programs and broadening our reach around the globe.

Through the extensive strategic planning conducted in 2019-2020, the Hartford International learned a number of important things:

  • Our current model is rooted in older models of seminary education and is not sustainable long-term. Enrollment is declining across peer theological schools nationally, while our programs face new competition for students.
  • The need for interreligious understanding is growing at a tremendous rate. Many of the world’s most pressing problems can be traced to conflicts rooted in religious intolerance and a lack of religious literacy. In addition, communities and families are becoming increasingly diverse and interreligious.
  • Our unique legacy calls us to even greater leadership. Hartford International has a strong history of cutting-edge religion research and hosts pioneering programs in interreligious understanding, peacebuilding, and spirituality. Going forward, we will incorporate an even greater focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion into all of our work.

Thus, a new era begins with this strategic vision:

By 2028, Hartford International will be the nation’s leading resource for interreligious education, research, and peace studies, providing cutting-edge research and immersive learning opportunities that enable leaders and institutions to thrive in a religiously complex world.

To achieve this, we will focus our institutional investment in four interrelated areas:

Religion Research

We will build upon our legacy of rigorous applied research on congregational and institutional religious life while expanding efforts to pursue a public-facing, institution-wide research agenda toward interreligious understanding guided by a core of religiously diverse, public intellectual scholar-practitioners. Implementation is being co-led by Dr. Scott Thumma, Professor of Sociology of Religion, and Dr. Allison Norton, Faculty Associate in Migration Studies and Congregational Life.

Interreligious Peace Studies

Our academic portfolio will include redesigned academic and professional Master’s programs, which include new and exciting paths for our historic Islamic Chaplaincy and International Peacemaking programs, and the evaluation of a reconfigured Ph.D. program, as well as other sustainable programs. Implementation is being led by Rev. Dr. David Grafton, our Hartford International’s Chief Academic Officer, Dean, and Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations.

Global and Community Partnerships

As a global and local hub for interreligious understanding, peacebuilding, and spiritual life, we will cultivate local, national, and international partners and become a leading voice in those areas. This area is being led by Dr. Deena Grant, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies.

Executive and Professional Education

We will respond to the growing demand for professional competencies around religious diversity through trainings that reach audiences in corporate, government, education, healthcare, and religious settings, and we will continue to equip religious leaders and communities for interreligious understanding and collaboration.

Overall, the Hartford International will retain a strong commitment to Islamic, Jewish, and Christian studies even while we branch out into new areas to support other religious traditions, seekers, and the non-religious. We will lead and serve the world in new ways while retaining the core of what makes Hartford International unique.

More News to Come

As you can undoubtedly imagine, these changes represent a huge undertaking in a challenging environment. But we are convinced that Hartford International is headed in a new and exciting direction that will propel and sustain the important work that we do. Change and reinvention are the lifeblood of our 187-year history. Blazing trails is what we do.

Please look for additional announcements in the coming months that will offer more detail about our new direction. In the meantime, please email Susan Schoenberger, Director of Communications, at with any comments or questions.

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