Building on our Past, Looking to the Future
From Unification Theological Seminary to HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership
On February 14, 2023, UTS received approval from the New York State Department of Education to change its name to HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership. The statement which follows provides background on this important new development in the history of the institution.
Although our name has changed, our institutional mission remains unchanged:
HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership provides academic and Professional Education for current and future leaders of the Unification Community and all faiths, that seeks to enhance their relationship with God, their effectiveness in ministry, public leadership, and interreligious peacebuilding. As a home of thought, we strive to foster understanding, contextualization, and application of the Unification worldview in a world of diverse faiths.
The name HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership itself reflects and honors the mission of our institution. The mission statement points out that the Institution offers “advanced academic and professional education.” As a school of graduate education, we not only seek “to enhance [the learning community’s] relationship with God”, but also its “effectiveness in ministry, public leadership and interreligious peacebuilding.”
Our New Name
The name, “HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership,” reflects the key dimensions of our institution’s mission.
The HJ in the new name stands for hyojeong -- 효정 in Korean or 孝情 in Chinese characters -- and denotes filial affection, especially in relationship to God as the parent of humanity. The Unification tradition emphasizes the cultivation of a filial heart toward God, i.e., an intuitive, attitudinal sensitivity to what uplifts God and to what causes God grief.
Unificationists believe that beyond religious faith, this pursuit of and sensitivity to God’s heart can help us to “enhance [our] relationship with God”, whether within the Unification community or any other faiths. It can also help us to see each human being as our sibling because we share a common parent, God. Moreover, the focus of UTS since its founding has been “international.” Our new name emphasizes our commitment to ministry and public leadership “in a world of diverse faiths” and reflects the worldwide focus of the sponsoring Church and the interreligious and international expertise of HJI faculty and staff.
In 1994, HJI Co-Founders Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon changed the name of the sponsoring Church to Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. This change reflected post-Cold War developments within the Unification Church Movement that led to the creation of organizations that saw peace as their priority and raison d'être. Women’s Federation for World Peace, one of these organizations, involved itself in peace-related initiatives including the building of schools in Africa and the promotion of a Bridge of Peace ceremony between Korean and Japanese women, symbolic of the need to find an end to the long historical enmity existing between Korea and Japan.
The Universal Peace Federation, a United Nations Non-Governmental Organization with Consultative Status at the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has also been involved in multiple initiatives meant to contribute to the peaceful reunion of the Koreas. UPF has also led major peace initiatives both in the Middle East (Israel-Palestine-related) and in Africa (addressing the aftereffects of colonialism and slavery) where they met and collaborated with key actors in the transformation of these conflicts.
For its part, HJI, since its founding in 1975, has emphasized interfaith dialogue and cooperation. When it created its Doctor of Ministry in 2006, it established a Peace and Justice Track. Its Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies, established in 2010, stipulated that all students follow a core curriculum that included World Scriptures and World Peace; Theology of Peacebuilding; Ethics and Social Justice in the Age of Globalization; World Religions; and Global Conflict. The Master of Arts in Religious Studies also included an elective concentration in Interfaith Peacebuilding. HJI initiated a proposal for its own Master of Arts in Peace Studies in 2021 and it received approval from the New York State Education Department in February 2022.
HJI’s teaching faculty includes Dr. Thomas Walsh, Professor of Religion and Peace, who has traveled in 120 nations and has been involved in major peace initiatives in the Middle East and Africa and has a longstanding involvement with the United Nations, presiding over an International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with General Consultative Status with the United Nations. The faculty also includes Dr. Thomas J. Ward, a Fulbright recipient (2013) and Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Visiting Scholar (2016), who served as the Founding Chair of the Masters of Global Development and Peace at the University of Bridgeport, as well as Delegate at Large of the Committee on Teaching about the United Nations (2018-2020).
Both Dr. Walsh and Dr. Ward have been involved in Track II-related peace initiatives on the Korean peninsula. The full-time faculty also includes Dr. Drissa Kone who is active in peace leadership initiatives and regional conflict study in French speaking Africa. Dr. Andrew Wilson, a Harvard-Educated expert on comparative scripture studies in the World’s Religions is a faculty member and the Editor of the respected World Scriptures: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts (Paragon 1998) that points to the shared mores and values found in the world’s major faiths.
In its new Master of Arts in Peace Studies, HJ International trains peace professionals from around the world. Already our current core of twenty-eight students represents twenty nations from Australia to Canada; from Zambia to Moscow.
A Reflection of Who We Are
The Institution’s mission and history, its strong ties with a sponsoring Church that sees peace as a priority, combined with the peace-oriented academic programs at HJI and the expertise and experience of key HJI faculty and staff shed light on our decision to become “HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership.”
The new name, HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership, we feel, reflects what UTS has become and represents what our school can offer to our students and the world community whom we strive to serve.
“HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership”, we feel, reflects what UTS has become and represents what our School can offer to our students and the world community whom we strive to serve.
 Probably the most prominent of these organizations are the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), and Youth and Students for Peace (YSP), the first two of which hold General Consultative Status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the latter of which holds special consultative status.
HJ International: Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the HJI Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership will have two Divisions. One of these will be the Divinity School which will oversee HJI’s Religious Studies and its Divinity and Doctor of Ministry programs. The Master of Arts in Peace Studies will be housed in the other division, the School of Peace Studies.
HJI appreciates and has greatly benefited from its association with the Association Theological Schools and remains an affiliate member.
HJI maintains its existing Mission:
HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership provides advanced academic and professional education for current and future leaders of the Unification community and all faiths, that seeks to enhance their relationship with God, their effectiveness in ministry, public leadership, and interreligious peacebuilding. As a home of thought, we strive to foster deeper understanding, contextualization and application of the Unification worldview within a world of diverse faiths.
From the time of its founding in 1975, the Institution has built a religiously diverse faculty representing various Christian denominations, Judaism, Islam, and Eastern religions. The institution gained a reputation from its early years for fostering interreligious dialogue and has drawn a significant number of non-Unificationist students although the majority has remained Unificationist.
In 2019, the institution relocated to a beautiful facility in mid-Manhattan just seven blocks from the United Nations (UN). With numerous affiliate organizations and friends with UN involvement, we decided, with the support of one of those organizations, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) to add a Master of Arts in Peace Studies to our program offerings. The addition of this degree represented the culmination of a process that had begun in 2006 with the inclusion of a Peace and Justice Track in our Doctor of Ministry Program, followed by the addition in 2010 of a Master of Arts in Religious Studies which had a curriculum focus on Interfaith Peacebuilding.
These changes resonated with developments inside the sponsoring Church, which in 1994 changed its name to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Beginning in the early 1990s, Father and Mother Moon also initiated affiliate civil society organizations including the Women’s Federation for World Peace, the Universal Peace Federation, and Youth and Students for Peace, all of which developed worldwide networks of supporters and affiliations with the United Nations and other regional and intergovernmental organizations.
July 1, 2023
Since COVID, the Institution has given added emphasis to online learning. Through this, our student body has become more diverse with students joining our programs from thirty-four nations. In Fall 2023 we will return to more campus classes. The new name will highlight how our students are trained in the study of peacebuilding. Through setting up two divisions, a Divinity School and a School of Peace Studies, it will be clear that the education for ministry and pastoral work as well as Peace Studies remain our priorities.
We anticipate continuing to appeal to the types of students who have come to the Institution in the past. The institution will maintain its high academic standards and continue to strengthen them.
Financial aid packages will continue to be available to students based on the existing criteria.
After seeking input from our faculty, staff, administration, students, and alumni, the Board passed a resolution in December 2022 to change the name of the Institution from Unification Theological Seminary to HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership. An application for the name change was filed with and approved by the New York State Education Department on February 14, 2023. Pursuant to the guidelines of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE), the Commission was informed of the change, as was the Association of Theological Schools. The school remains accredited and in good standing with MSCHE, which has assisted in the protocols required for the name change.
HJ International received its absolute charter from the New York State Department of Education and it is accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education. HJI remains an affiliate member of the Association of Theological Schools.
Students entering HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership for the first time in the Fall of 2023 will have the new name HJ International Graduate School of Peace and Public Leadership on their diploma. Current students who entered prior to Fall 2023 may choose between having UTS or HJ International on their diploma.
Yes, this can be done through the Registrar. There will be a fee for the issuance of the new diploma.
There is a new logo that builds on the artwork of the previous logo and that reflects the name change to HJ International.
“HJI” or “HJ International”
Yes. We will change from uts.edu to hji.edu. When you do a search on the web for UTS, you will automatically be redirected to the new domain. Email addresses will also change from uts.edu to hji.edu.
Admissions Events will be done in the name of HJ International Graduate School for Peace and Public Leadership. Our admissions literature and social media will make it clear that the Institution has a new name.
Yes, please see the chronology below:
- In November 2020 through to December 2021, UTS President Thomas Ward, VP Michael Mickler, and UTS Chairman Franco Famularo began meeting together. Other members of the Board and the core leadership of UTS were regularly updated on these conversations. Dr. Walsh, International Chairman of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), also joined these conversations, expressing interest in involving UTS in providing UPF leaders and allies with advanced graduate education in the areas of religion, peace, and public leadership.
- UTS proposed with UPF support to develop a Master of Arts in Peace Studies. There was an understanding that UPF would assist in providing recruitment and scholarship support through their worldwide network of members and supporters.
- The proposal for a Master of Arts in Peace Studies was developed through our faculty over a period of one year and was then submitted to the New York State Department of Education in late 2021. The Masters in Peace Studies was approved in early 2022.
The program attracted wide interest and 15 students who had been admitted to UTS in Fall of 2021 in the Master of Religious Studies with a concentration in Interfaith Peacebuilding were followed in Fall 2022 by 15 students admitted as Master of Arts in Peace Studies.
- In April of 2022, Dr. Walsh traveled to Korea where he met with UTS Co-Founder Dr. Moon and several members of the UTS Board of Trustees -- Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, Dr. Chung Sik Yong, Dr. Michael Jenkins, Mr. Steven Jares, and Dr. Franco Famularo. He shared about the New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) expeditious approval of the Master of Arts in Peace Studies.
- In April 2022, Dr. Thomas Ward announced his plan to step down as President of UTS at the end of academic year 2022, an intention which he had outlined to the Board at the time of his appointment in July 2019.
- Dr. Thomas Walsh submitted his application to assume the Presidency of UTS. Dr. Walsh, a PhD from Vanderbilt University, who had taught in a variety of institutions and had served as Co-Chair of the University of Bridgeport Board of Trustees, was recognized as a highly qualified candidate to assume this role and was unanimously approved by the Board. He assumed this role following the 2022 UTS graduation ceremony.
- Dr. Walsh asked Dr. Ward to remain on at UTS to serve as Provost and Dr. Ward agreed to this. Dr. Ward supports refocusing UTS and agrees with Dr. Walsh that a name change is in order to better accomplish this.
- In July 2022, Dr. Walsh consulted former UTS presidents Dr. Spurgin, Dr. Shimmyo, and Dr. Hendricks about looking into renaming the Seminary. They each supported this plan to consider a name change, as the Institution expanded its focus on Peace Studies.
- In October 2022, the Board of Trustees approved a resolution encouraging Dr. Walsh to confer with stakeholders of the UTS community, including faculty, staff, alumni, and students.
- Dr. Walsh convened a retreat of UTS full time faculty and staff and shared the concept of a name change, which was generally well received.
- Meetings with students and alumni followed after this.
Ministry is a form of “Public Leadership.” HJI offers degrees in the fields of Religion and Divinity Studies as well as a Master of Arts in Peace Studies. HJI prepares students for careers in the ministry as well as in the public and NGO sector. The school will have two divisions going forward: The Divinity School and the School of Peace Studies.