Public Intellectual

Loving someone does not require that you intuit what they are feeling or needing. Love prompts you to set aside your assumptions about others and open yourself to see clearly what is possible in the current moment.

You only need to speak with Dr. Cari for a short while before realizing the genuine humility that permeates from her. She is quite learned, holding three graduate degrees (Law, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Philosophy), yet her gentle spirit and approachability are inviting almost from the moment you first meet her. As she says, “I didn’t give myself my intellect. I was given my intellect as an incredible resource to help others.”

For Dr. Cari, the simple principles of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, expressed across spiritual traditions, and the Lord's Prayer “Give us this day our daily bread”, guide her belief that the measure of a society’s health and strength is reflected in its treatment of the “least of these” - society’s most fragile and vulnerable. Led by her conviction that all people are one human family, she uses remarkable insights to help enhance the quality of life–spiritually, emotionally, socially, and economically–for all people.

Dr. Cari has a special ability to see, analyze, and explain complex, overlapping social issues in ways that promote social transformation and visible changes in people’s lives. As a scholar and teacher of social ethics and theology, and a student of psychology, sociology and public policy, she examines how the intersections of religion, economics, and politics influence how individuals and groups understand themselves and how they relate with others.

Using scholarship about social systems, Dr. Cari seeks to inform those who are most privileged by systems that oppress others about the certain fragility of privileges derived from a system of oppression, and works to help them develop better, more sustainable social systems. She also seeks to educate those who have been socialized in systems of marginalization to distinguish the impacts of socialization from their innate human rights, and help empower them to engage in strategic action for social reform.

One area of particular intellectual focus for Dr. Cari is social power. Through her latest book, For the Souls of Black Folks and speaking engagements, she presents her analyses about power dynamics that disempower and marginalize, and offers practical strategies for shifting those dynamics in ways that improve the quality of life for as many people as possible.

As an ordained minister and preacher, Dr. Cari challenges ministers and congregants alike to acknowledge the ways that power struggles in faith communities impede their potential to make valuable and meaningful contributions to one another and the world.

Dr. Cari also has a passion for inspiring ministers-in-training to share their academic learning in ways that are accessible to broad audiences and foster social change. Motivated by this passion, she lectures regularly about the theologian’s role as a public intellectual at seminaries across the United States and around the world. Union Theological Seminary, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, Drew Theological School, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Reutlingen School of Theology, and Matanzas Seminary are just a few of the seminaries where she has shared this crucial instructive message. She urges, “The ultimate value of your studying and learning in these hallowed halls becomes clear only when you engage theory and theology with the real issues and circumstances of people’s everyday lives. In this way, you help make the world a better place.”