Greg M. Epstein serves as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, and is author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. He currently serves as Vice President of the 36-member corps Harvard Chaplains. In 2005 Greg received ordination as a Humanist Rabbi from the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, where he studied in Jerusalem and Michigan for five years. He holds a BA (Religion and Chinese) and an MA (Judaic Studies) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a Masters of Theological Studies from the Harvard Divinity School.
Greg began serving as Humanist Chaplain at Harvard in fall 2005, when the Humanist Chaplaincy’s total annual budget was $28,000. In the seven years since then, he has raised over two million dollars in gifts and pledges to the Humanist Community at Harvard (HCH, as a chaplaincy, receives no funding whatsoever from Harvard University), while organizing and launching a range of new programs and initiatives that have helped turn the concept of Humanist chaplaincy into a topic of national discussion. He now directs the HCH’s latest initiative, the Humanist Community Project: a laboratory for the development of multicultural, multigenerational Humanist communities locally and nationwide, in partnership with the American Humanist Association.
Greg’s work has been featured by the New York Times; CBS News, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer; ABC News Network; Al Jazeera; Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and numerous other programs on National Public Radio; BBC Radio; USA Today; Newsweek; US News and World Report; The Boston Globe; The Jewish Daily Forward, The Christian Century; The Guardian, and many more. His writing on Humanist community has been featured by CNN, Newsweek and The Washington Post, and was recognized as the ‘Best of 2012′ by WBUR (Boston’s NPR affiliate); He is an advisor to two student groups at Harvard College, the Harvard Community of Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics (HCHAA); and the Interfaith Council, and to the Harvard Humanist Graduate Community. He also serves as technical advisor to “The Inclusive America Project,” an initiative of the Aspen Institute co-chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. From 2007-2010 he chaired the Advisory Board of the national umbrella organization the Secular Student Alliance, joining such renowned nonbelievers as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
Greg grew up in Flushing, Queens, New York as an assimilated and disinterested Reform Jew. He studied Buddhism and Taoism while at Stuyvesant High School in New York City and in college went to Taiwan for a semester aiming to study Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism in its original language and context. Finding that Eastern religions do not necessarily have greater access to truth than Western ones, he returned to the US and shifted his focus to rock music, recording and singing professionally for a year after college. Soon thereafter, he learned of the movement of Humanism and the possibility of a career as a Humanist rabbi and chaplain.
Here’s Greg talking to ABC News’ Dan Harris. This interview was featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and Good Morning America in 2010.
Greg, his work, and our students and community are also featured in this April 2013 documentary produced by CBS News.
There are several opportunities for students to meet with Greg Epstein.
Students and Harvard affiliates, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a meeting.
The Chaplaincy will try to accommodate the request of others for a meeting. Please send an email, briefly stating the reason for the meeting, to email@example.com