Dan McKanan, Chair

Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity


Dan McKanan serves as the Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Senior Lecturer at Harvard Divinity School, where he has taught since 2008. He studies religious and spiritual movements for social transformation in the United States and beyond, with particular emphasis on environmental activism, intentional communities, and socialism. Much of his research focuses on the Unitarian Universalist tradition and the anthroposophical movement. He is the author of five books, most recently Eco-Alchemy: Anthroposophy and the History and Future of Environmentalism (University of California Press, 2017) and Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition (Beacon Press, 2011), which won the Frederic G. Melcher Book Award. He also served as lead editor of the two-volume A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism (Skinner House Books, 2017). Earlier works explored the Catholic Worker movement and nonviolent activism in the early nineteenth century. Professor McKanan’s current book project explores generational transitions in the Camphill network of intentional communities.

As Emerson Senior Lecturer, Professor McKanan is deeply involved in the formation of Unitarian Universalist ministers and professional leaders at the Divinity School, and of Unitarian Universalist scholars at Harvard and across the United States. He serves on the Unitarian Universalist Panel on Theological Education and the board of the Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society, and is a past president of the Unitarian Universalist Collegium. He coordinates the Unitarian Universalist Scholars and Friends events at the American Academy of Religion, as well as regular gatherings of Unitarian Universalist emerging scholars.

Professor McKanan also serves as board chair of the International Communal Studies Association. At Harvard, he has chaired the MTS Curriculum Committee for many years, and participates actively in the American Studies program of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Professor McKanan will be on leave in spring 2018.

Dissertation Committees

“’Onward, Christian Soldiers’: Populism and the Religious Imagination in the Wake of World War I” (Colin Bossen)

“The Man on the Dump: The Aesthetics of Waste in American Art and History” (Steven Brown)

“Torture and American Sovereignty: The Rhetoric of a Modern Empire, 1945-2012” (Marisa Egerstrom)

Selected Publications

  • A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism

    A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism, two volumes (editor). (Skinner House, 2017), by Dan McKanan

  • Eco-Alchemy-Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy

    Eco-Alchemy: Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy and the Environmental Movement. (University of California Press, 2017), by Dan McKanan

  • Von Emerson zu Thomas Mann

    Von Emerson zu Thomas Mann: Beiträge zur Geschichte unitarischen Denkens in Amerika und Deutschland (coedited with Heinrich Detering). (Universitätsverlag Göttingen, 2017), by Dan McKanan

  • McKananTheCatholicWorkerAfterDorothy

    The Catholic Worker after Dorothy: Practicing the Works of Mercy in a New Generation (Liturgical Press, 2008), by Dan McKanan

  • McKananTouchingTheWorld

    Touching the World: Christian Communities Transforming Society (Liturgical Press, 2007), by Dan McKanan

  • McKananIdentifyingTheImageOfGod

    Identifying the Image of God: Radical Christians and Nonviolent Power in the Antebellum United States (Oxford, 2003), by Dan McKanan

  • PropheticEncountersMcKannanSized

    Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition (Beacon Press, 2012), by Dan McKanan