Dan McKanan

Dan McKanan

Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity
Dan McKanan

AB, Harvard College

MDiv, Vanderbilt Divinity School

PhD, University of Chicago


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 general 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.


Selected publications
  • Eco-Alchemy: Anthroposophy and the History and Future of Environmentalism (University of California Press, 2017) Publisher page
  • A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism (Skinner House, 2017) Publisher page
  • Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition (Beacon Press, 2011) Publisher page
  • The Catholic Worker After Dorothy: Practicing the Works of Mercy in a New Generation (Liturgical Press, 2008) Publisher page
  • Touching the World: Christian Communities Transforming Society (Liturgical Press, 2007)
  • Identifying the Image of God: Radical Christians and Nonviolent Power in the Antebellum United States(Oxford University Press, 2002) Publisher page


Contact Information

Harvard Divinity School
45 Francis Avenue
Cambridge MA 02138

office hours: see Harvard Divinity School
p: 617-496-2665

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