Meet our Project Leadership Team

November 4, 2015

Alongside its Senior Advisory Committee, the Theology of Joy and the Good Life project will benefit from the guidance of the highly distinguished scholars on its Project Leadership Team. This group will contribute original research to the project, and will work with Principal Investigator Miroslav Volf to direct the project and shape its goals.


Mark Berner is the founder and president of Joy Consortium, an initiative funded by the John Templeton Foundation to bring joy into the mainstream of religious practice and academic inquiry. He has been an entrepreneur; hedge fund manager; attorney; and foundation trustee and advisor. <br><br>

Daniel Chua is Professor of Music and the Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. His previous appointments include Director of Studies at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and Professor of Music Theory and Analysis at King’s College London. He has been the recipient of the Henry Fellowship at Harvard and the 2004 Royal Musical Association’s Dent Medal. He is the author of Absolute Music and the Construction of Meaning

Kenda Creasy Dean is the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is also the coordinating pastor of Kingston United Methodist Church in New Jersey, and an ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. Her publications include Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church and Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church. 

Robert Emmons is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis and the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. His research focuses on gratitude and human flourishing. He has authored 4 books on the topic, including Thanks! and Gratitude Works! He is the recipient of multiple Templeton Foundation research grants

Michael Fishbane is the Nathan Cummings Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago, where he has served as Chair of its Committee on Jewish Studies. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research. In 2005, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to Jewish Scholarship from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. He is the author of The Exegetical Imagination: On Jewish Thought and Theology

Jennifer Herdt is the Gilbert L. Stark Professor of Christian Ethics and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Yale Divinity School. She is the author of Religion and Faction in Hume’s Moral Philosophy and Putting on Virtue: the Legacy of the Splendid Vices, together with many articles and book chapters on a host of subjects. She is currently working on a book manuscript on happiness, obligation, and Christian ethics.

Willie James Jennings is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School. He teaches in the areas of systematic theology, black church and cultural studies, and is an ordained Baptist minister. He is the author of The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, and also the winner of the 2015 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. 

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Charles Mathewes is the Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He has served as editor of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion and of the third edition of the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics. He is the Chair of the Committee on the Future of Christian Ethics by the Society of Christian Ethics. His most recent publications include The Republic of Grace: Augustinian Thoughts for Dark Times and Understanding Religious Ethics

Robert Roberts is Distinguished Professor of Ethics at Baylor University. He has been awarded research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Pew Charitable Trusts, and is currently a Senior Fellow in the Center for Theological Inquiry, in the inquiry into Religious Experience and Moral Identity. His publications include Emotions in the Moral Life (2013).

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Andrew Root  is the Olson Baalson Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary. He is most recently the author of Christopraxis: A Practical Theology of the Cross and Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.  He has also written The Relational Pastor as well as a four book series called A Theological Journey Through Youth Ministry. In 2012, his book The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry (with Kenda Creasy Dean) received Christianity Today’s Award of Merit.