Greg Johnston '13

Career: Episcopal Priest

Thesis Title: Capability Without Indignity

Social Studies didn't teach me to think. But it did teach me to think in a group, to think out loud, to think in conversation with others across time, space, and culture. In Social Studies 10 and junior tutorials, in one-on-one discussions of thesis chapters and in hours spent reading Adam Smith, I learned not only how to translate old ideas into new realities, but that listening across difference could reveal my own hidden assumptions.            

As an ordained minister, I spend a lot of time mediating between a fixed canon of classic texts and the fluid realities of modern life. In this sense, the practices of historically-informed reading, thinking, speaking, and writing I learned in Social Studies are part of my daily reality. I've seen my own assumptions unveiled by eight-year-olds at summer camp and octogenarians at Bible studies. But Social Studies also formed me as a human being. I came to Social Studies because I knew it would give me the flexibility to study the things I was passionate about. But as I read and wrote and listened and spoke over the years, the authors and ideas I encountered in Social Studies became less about shaping my research and more about shaping my life, giving me new ways of understanding, living in, and (in a small way) transforming the world. After all, as they say, there's nothing as practical as a good theory.