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In the spring of 1915, the Kennedy School of Missions at Hartford Theological Seminary, the leading graduate school for missionary training in the United States at this time, offered the first graduate-level course on ethnology ever to be taught in America to missionary candidates.1 The seminary's leadership had identified the need for teaching ethnology to missionariesin- training as early as 1913 - when the school of missions was just two years old. 2 This American curricular innovation followed a practice begun a decade earlier in Britain of teaching ethnology to missionary candidates (Kuklick 1991).3 Hartford Seminary President W. Douglas Mackenzie was also inspired to make this curricular change because he had chaired Commission V on "The Training of Teachers" at the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910. That Commission sounded a sobering call for more cross-cultural sensitivity in missionary training:

Christian missionaries do not always show consummate wisdom in their methods. Christianity is under no inherent compulsion to impose any special form of civilization on its adherents, else we should all be Judaised. It is certainly strange that we should take an Eastern religion, adapt it to Western needs, and then impose those Western adaptations on Eastern races. I can conceive no better way of swamping and stamping out all true individuality in our converts.4

In light of Edinburgh 1910's call for change, it only made sense that Mackenzie would want his own institution to take the lead in improving mission" ary training. And so it did.


Originally published in On Knowing Humanity Insights from Theology for Anthropology

Edited by Eloise Meneses and David Bronkema

First published 2017 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017

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