The Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, located on the campus of Northwestern University, announced earlier this month that it will be promoting an Asian American female to full professor for the first time in its 162-year history.
The seminary’s board of trustees voted unanimously to promote Dr. Wonhee Anne Joh, who had been serving as an associate professor, to now serve as a full-time professor of systematic theology. According to the seminary, Joh’s promotion makes her the first Korean American woman in the U.S. to serve as a full-time professor of systematic theology.
“I’m deeply honored by this affirmation and look forward to shaping the future of theological education at Garrett,” Joh said in a statement. “I am privileged to be part of this faculty and with colleagues I regard with high respect as teachers and scholars.”
Joh has been a faculty member at Garrett since 2009, and has served as the director of the Asian/Asian American Ministries Center at the seminary.
Joh also authored and co-authored numerous books including the most recent one which she co-authored with Dr. Nami Kim, ‘Critical Theology Against U.S. Militarism in Asia: Decolonization and Deimperialization.’ In a statement, she emphasized the necessity of the Christian witness during a time that she described as being violent.
“We live in a time with normalized and routinized forms of violence of one kind or another against lives already made precarious often through colonial legacies,” said Joh. “We also live in a time in which war has become perpetual. Christians must speak out against various forms of violence and become embodied believers of peace-making in this world.”
Joh immigrated to the U.S. from South Korea at nine years old, and has since grown up in America and went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in religious studies and English literature from North Central College; her M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary; and her Ph.D. in theological and philosophical studies from Drew University.
“I had the opportunity not only to read Dr. Joh’s work and converse with her about it, but also to experience first-hand the profound appreciation for her scholarship, her dedication, and her mentorship expressed by a wide range of colleagues, former and current students, and indeed many other people across the world,” said Dr. Nancy Bedford, a Georgia Harkness professor of applied theology at Garrett, who also has served on Joh’s promotion committee. “I feel blessed indeed to count her as a colleague and friend, and to benefit from her keen insight and presence.”
The Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary today exists as a result of the merging of three institutions: the Garrett Biblical Institute, the Chicago Training School, and the Evangelical Theological Seminary. The Garrett Biblical Institute was the first Methodist seminary to be established in the Midwest, and was founded in 1853. Today, the seminary still identifies itself as being “related” to the United Methodist Church, and boasts an “ecumenical and international reach.”