The Asian Theological Summer Institute Celebrates 15 years

The Asian Theological Summer Institute (ATSI) just concluded its 15th year with 11 Zoom sessions in June, July and early August. Founded in 2007, ATSI is a mentoring program for doctoral students of Asian and Asian American heritage. The program reviewed 20 doctoral dissertation proposals and provided a multidisciplinary feedback to students.

With the 2021 cohort, ATSI has now mentored 247 PhD/ThD candidates in Theological/Religious Studies from North America, Asia, and Europe. This is the second year in a row ATSI has used Zoom for the workshop. Although the Zoom format worked well, participants are hopeful for a return to the Philadelphia campus for next summer.

Twenty candidates from fifteen universities and seminaries participated this year:  Boston School of Theology, Brite Divinity School, Columbia University, Claremont School of Theology, Drew University, Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Graduate Theological Union, Emory University, Fuller Theological Seminary, Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, Princeton Theological Seminary, University of Toronto, Canada, University of St. Andrews, Scotland, Vanderbilt University and Yale University.

Dr. Peter C. Phan (Georgetown), Dr. Kwok Pi Lan (Emory), Dr. Tat-siong Benny Liew (Holy Cross), Dr. Nami Kim (Spelman College), Dr. Boyong Lee (Iliff) served as guest faculty along with Dr. Jayakiran Sebastian (Dean, ULS) and Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar (Director of ATSI).

Some comments from this year’s student evaluations:

“ATSI this year has offered me the gift of a community of scholars with similar commitments but a diversity of knowledge and training. I am immensely grateful.I hope the Zoom format continues, as it certainly allows for a broader group to participate (parents, students in international settings, etc.)”

“I gained a much sharper sense of the task of a dissertation.”

“This has been one of the greatest opportunities that I have ever had since the beginning of my PhD program.”

“Super interesting to see how each subfield in religious studies/theology approaches the intersection between Asian American studies and religion! Also really appreciated how closely the faculty members read each proposal and connected their comments to broader lessons that we can all learn from.”

“I learned what's current in the Asian American Theological scene from the perspective of other grad students. What I really enjoyed was the irenic and supportive atmosphere, (sometimes a rarity in academia).”

“The mentoring aspect of ATSI is a strength of the program, not only in terms of academics but forming relationships and the care the faculty showed.”

ATSI is an annual offering of the United Lutheran Seminary (originally established under LTSP) and currently supported by the Lilly Endowment. Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar, Luther D .Reed Professor Emeritus—Systematic Theology, serves as the founding director of ATSI.

For more information visit:; Facebook, “ATSIPhiladelphia


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