Shaundra Cunningham, a PhD student in the Department of Geography, was selected for a 2020 doctoral fellowship from the Forum of Theological Exploration (FTE).
Cunningham’s research combines both theological study and cultural geography, with her dissertation focusing on black women and their role as spiritual cartographers in the rural south.
“After reading Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, coupled with rigorous clinical pastoral training, I began to notice the import and significance of objects, adornment, talismans, icons, colors, balloons, pictures, symbols, and more as patients and their families negotiated the ‘space of suffering’ in transformative ways,” Cunningham said. “This observation, coupled with the intersectional realities of socio economic conditions, the significations of ‘home,’ and pragmatic concerns, collide in ways that spark my interest in wanting to pursue the discipline of geography to possibly deal with emotional geographies, geographies of religion, social movements, and the particular formations of black women.”
FTE awarded its Doctoral Fellowships to 16 students of color to support their PhD or ThD program in religion, theological, or biblical studies. Students will either receive the Fellowship for Doctoral Students of African Descent or the Fellowship for Latino/a, Asian and First Nations Doctoral Students. Each Fellow will receive a living stipend up to $25,000 to help further their studies beyond the coursework stage.
In addition to its fellowships for dissertation stage doctoral students, FTE provides professional development opportunities for PhD and ThD students in the first two years of their studies. FTE developed these doctoral initiatives to help accelerate the completion of doctoral degrees among students of color and to foster diversity across the academy in North America.
“I think FTE is both an incubator and a movement. This award will enable me to join a consortium of fellows engaged in scholarship with prophetic imagination propelled by abiding commitments to our people, ancestors, and communities,” Cunningham said. “The resources, mentorship, seminars, workshops, and ongoing pastoral and academic support is really invaluable.”
Click here for a full list of FTE’s 2020 Doctoral Fellows.
-By Kelly Alley