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Dr. Nichole R Phillips

Nichole R Phillips, MDiv, MA, PhD


Dr. Nichole Renée Phillips is the Associate Professor in the Practice of Sociology of Religion and Culture and Director of Black Church Studies at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. A sociologist of religion and public intellectual, she teaches courses in community and congregational studies. Her research interests lie at the intersection of religion and American public life with a focus on community and congregational studies where she investigates the moral commitments and vision of community and congregational members. Her scholarship treats religion, critical race, gender and cultural memory studies. She is also developing new research interests in the sociology of science and religion.


Her first monograph, Patriotism Black and White: The Color of American Exceptionalism (2018) is a study of blacks and whites in a rural southern community and their shifting interpretations of American national identity and U.S. exceptionalism with the election of Barack H. Obama as America’s first President of African descent and at the height of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The volume further considers the implication of these patriotic and exceptionalist meanings under the present Trump Administration. In 2019, Patriotism Black and White landed on the Best Sellers List for the Christian ecumenical and flagship magazine of U.S. mainline Protestants, The Christian Century.


Nichole also contributed a chapter to the published collection, Revives My Soul Again: The Spirituality of Martin Luther King Jr., which commemorated the 50th-year anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (2018). Her chapter explains the ways in which King Jr.’s spirituality animated his delivery of ‘I have a dream’ and inspired his rearticulation of American national identity at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.


Nichole is nationally recognized for her expertise on race, religion and the U.S. nation. An engaged public scholar she provides regular commentary to local and national news outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, WABE/NPR, Sojourners and even France’s main protestant weekly, Rèforme. She has appeared on CBSN (the 24/7 streaming digital format of CBS News) and her commentary can be found on Georgetown University’s Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs website, “Colin Kaepernick and Black Civil Religion: American Football and ‘Our’ Patriotisms” and the e-news journal, Religion & Politics, Amanda Gorman’s ‘City on a Hill.’


She has received numerous awards, honors, and recognitions including being the inaugural recipient of Emory University’s 2019 Provost’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Professional and Graduate Education for Candler School of Theology. Her research has been supported by the Center for Community Studies of Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, and the Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB). In 2020, Nichole was awarded a $100,000 grant from The Templeton Religion Trust and coordinated by the Issachur Fund in partnership with Rice University and the University of California, San Diego for the project, “Black Faith, Bodies, Mother Mortality and COVID-19: A Response to Religion, Science and Medicine,” 2020-2023.


The Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Religion and the Humanities, Nichole was the first fellow in Emory University’s Mellon Foundation Humanistic Inquiry Program (HIP) to be appointed at the professional schools. She is a Senior Faculty Fellow at Emory University’s Center for Ethics and Associate Faculty in the Emory’s Department of Sociology.


An ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Dr. Phillips has served the wider connectional church and on ministerial staffs in New England and the South. She is presently a member of the Atlanta-North Georgia Annual Conference of the Sixth Episcopal District, led by presiding prelate, Bishop Reginald T Jackson.


She received the A.B. from Wellesley College, an M.Div. from Harvard University’s Divinity School, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion, Psychology, and Culture with a minor in anthropology of religion from Vanderbilt University.


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