Alumni | Christian Faith | Diversity | Response Magazine

A career in science and theology

Sarah Jean Barton

WHILE SARAH JEAN BARTON ’09 was a doctoral student at Duke Divinity School, she also worked as an occupational therapist. In that role, she encountered stories of church exclusion and discrimination against those with disabilities. The stories inspired a research project which culminated in Barton’s first book, Becoming the Baptized Body: Disability and the Practice of Christian Community (Baylor University Press, 2022).

Although one-quarter of Americans live with disabilities, it took the pandemic to push businesses, health care providers, and schools to embrace inclusive practices, Barton said.

Today, Barton is an assistant professor of occupational therapy and theological ethics at Duke. She credits an SPU professor, the late Cynthia
Fitch-Steenson, for helping her envision a bivocational career.

At SPU, Barton took an interdisciplinary approach, balancing advanced courses in the sciences with theology and biblical studies.

“There’s no reason you can’t pursue both fields you are passionate about and bring them together,” Barton said.

Photo courtesy Duke Divinity School

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