Beehive Interfaith House
This house in Georgetown offers hospitality and a welcome haven for global, faculty-level researchers during research fellowships, conference visits, or short-to-medium sojourns in Washington, DC. It is also a niche for friendly guests who are not academics to learn more about creative alternatives to capitalist models, through visits of as little as a day and as long as a year. Although Catholic in origin and spiritual center, its practice is contemplative and interfaith (so far Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sufi, and "None," or no claimed faith but happy to engage with us), facilitating dialogue across boundaries through shared living in Georgetown. We are open and affirming, we welcome different kinds of pilgrims, and we do not proselytize.
Carole Sargent modeled it (quite loosely) on traditional "House of Studies" examples she found connected to some of the older congregations worldwide, but with the variation that this is for faculty-level scholars, not students. There is abundant quiet time for research and writing, but the energy is lively, and everyone also shares occasional structured times together such as weekly meals, morning prayer, and meditation. Because of our interfaith nature, prayer is sometimes in the form of music via our shared Spotify account.
Dr. Sargent was inspired by several places, including (with links in italics):
The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas in Rome where she stays when doing research there;
Holy Hill Hermitage in Ireland, a contemplative retreat that also engages hermit spaces (www.holyhill.ie);
Anne Montgomery House (formerly Kearny Street Community) in Washington, DC, one of the Welcoming Communities of the Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ) which she helped open;
The New Camaldoli Hermitage with its Benedictine heritage, on Big Sur, California, where she has made a retreat on the advice of a Benedictine oblate filmmaker who is a friend of her community;
Pendle Hill, the home of Quaker "radical hospitality" in Wallingford, Pennsylvania;
Nuns and Nones, a national movement you have to read about to understand (we love them, and some of their members approached when Sargent was living with the sisters).
Twin Oaks Community, the first community Sargent ever visited, back in the 1980s (it was founded in the 1960s and still thrives).
Here are just some of the people who have lived in or visited the house since we opened in May of 2019.
FALL 2022-SPRING 2023
1. A faculty member working with human-centered computing technology who broadly things about ethics and human-centered design for artificial intelligence, the future of education, and humane systems thinking.
2. A professor whose research focuses on refugees, war, and conflict, particularly in Iraq and Syria, with an emphasis on internationally displaced people.
3. A professor considering India, and the implications of big data, governance, and development. Before his current university post he was a fellow at the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown, and the Berkman Center at Harvard.
1. Two university professors and activists from India. He is a professor at JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) in New Delhi. The son of a famous Dalit activist, and carries on his father's work in his own right. She is a historian of South Asia at Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, and not Dalit. They were sent to us by the Salesian priest in the next item.
2. From India for a community dinner, a Catholic priest who is the representative of the Salesians Don Bosco of Canada and the Eastern USA to the United Nations. He came to us through our India scholar and nonprofit entrepreneur friend, a Georgetown University master's degree graduate who earned his B.S. from the Central University of Rajasthan. A Roman Catholic (his sister is a nun), he joined us regularly for meals, prayer, and mass. He is a global activist for Dalit rights.
FALL 2021-SPRING 2022
1. A visiting scholar from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany. She is doing research at CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate), with a focus on theology and pastoral care
2. Return visit from a diocesan priest from Italy studying Bioethics. He completed a PhD at the Pontifical Gregorian University, which is the Jesuits' university in Rome. Please see his longer bio under the heading "Summer 2019-Spring 2020."
3. An actor who is returning temporarily from a career in New York (film and television) to teach.
4. Various theater professionals working with Georgetown University's Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics who come from New York to produce the play "Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski" about the legendary Georgetown University professor, refugee, dissident, and voice for resistance.
1. An American dancer and actor who is an alumnus of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater School of Fordham University. He lives in New York, but was in Washington to make a short film.
2. A Canadian author who spent a year living with the late Fr. Thomas Keating at St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, and whose work is affiliated with Ken Wilber.
3. From India, a Jefferson Fellow for the State Department, here from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
4. A Health Program Coordinator for IOM, the international migration branch of the United Nations, improving life expectancy outcomes for HIV+ children in Somalia and Uganda.
5. A Penn State University researcher from Saudi Arabia on the reception of Halal foods in parts of East Asia.
6. From Niger, a Fulbright scholar of global supply chain economics, MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
SUMMER 2020-SPRING 2021
1. A theologian whose research focuses on forms of conflict, negotiation, and reconciliation between the spirituality of Christian individuals — particularly the vulnerable and excluded — and the public and institutional representation of religion and theology. She has agreed to extend until May of 2021.
2. A recent Harvard policy and ethics PhD who is also a dancer, and deeply committed to meditation.
3. (May-August 2020) A Ge'ez Rite Ethiopian Catholic diocesan priest who ministers to immigrant communities throughout the Eastern U.S. in two languages, Amharic (Ethiopia) and Tigrinya (Eritrea). He took the place of the diocesan priest from Italy who had to leave early. We helped him prep for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
SUMMER 2019-SPRING 2020
1. (February-March 2020) A diocesan priest from Northern Italy studying bioethics at the Pontifical Gregorian University. It was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola and is the Jesuits' university in Rome. Note: he was supposed to stay until June, but his stay ended March 2020 due the university's closure for Covid-19/coronavirus. He returned to serve his home parish in Northern Italy, but the university welcomed him back after the crisis, for the 2021-22 academic year.
2. (August 2019-February 2020) A visiting artist studying Buddhist art (she is a scholar at Peking University). Her husband has an Asian history fellowship at UC Berkeley, so he was here sometimes, and she was there sometimes. We enjoyed interfaith engagement between Buddhism and Catholicism, especially through silent meditation.
3. (October-December 2019) An expert in not-for-profit and global service organizations, originally from India. He is active in his Muslim faith and a peace leader, bringing dialogue with Islam to our community.
4. Three attendees of "Thomas Berry and the Great Work," a conference co-hosted by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and the Yale University Forum on Religion and Ecology. https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/events/thomas-berry-and-the-great-work.
The Dominican sister (OP) who founded Homecoming Farm (with a group) on the grounds of the Dominican motherhouse in Amityville, New York. She is also a peaceful antinuclear activist.
A member of the board of Homecoming Farm, and of the American Teilhard Association.
A Holy Child sister (SHCJ) and antinuclear activist who has been profiled in The New Yorker, by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, and in many other media outlets for her peaceful but radical activism.
An India scholar and nonprofit entrepreneur from the Central University of Rajasthan. A Roman Catholic (his sister is a nun), he joined us regularly for meals, prayer, and mass. He is a global activist for Dalit rights.
An expert in maternal and child health from Nigeria, who earned a PhD at the University of Witswatersrand in South Africa. Sargent mentored her through AuthorAid (see "Why Nonprofit?").
Two guests, a faculty member and a research scholar, from the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, Belgium. They were research fellows at Dumbarton Oaks, August 2019, continuing their work on ancient translations of the Apostolic Fathers with work in Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Slavonic, Middle Persian, Ethiopic and Arabic, along with other studies of Late Antique Christianity.
A skateboard artist who builds community in Puerto Rico. His work is in the Phillips Collection and the Whitney Museum of Art. He is supported by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, among other venues, and visits the Department of Art and Art History. He returned for one week at a time, approximately four times per year, until his final exhibition at the Maria and Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery.
A professor in public policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, UT Austin, focusing on healthcare and aging. Summer 2019.
A Yale University environmental scholar and summer fellow at a DC-based environmental think tank, later working for Pete for America, June 2019.
Plus so many others who came for dinner (eventually a list will come).
Everybody cooks! Academic Authors House is vegetarian, and occasionally subscribes to the food service Martha and Marley Spoon. This allows everyone to cook no matter what their experience level, but members of the house are also welcomed to cook from their cultural cuisines, or anything else they would like to make for the group. The amount the university or fellowship pays for them to stay includes food, so besides sharing our standard food they can order weekly from online grocery delivery services such as Instacart. Each person cooks for the house about twice a month.
So far it has been amazing. The scholars all think together about what the house can and should be, so it is a dynamic place in ever-refreshing calibration.