Religion and Religious Expression in the Academy and Public Life

Jan 17, 2018
International House at the University of Chicago
1414 E 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Ross DouthatNew York Times

Willemien OttenUniversity of Chicago Divinity School

Geoffrey R. StoneUniversity of Chicago Law School

Laurie ZolothUniversity of Chicago Divinity School

William SchweikerUniversity of Chicago Divinity School

William T. CavanaughDePaul University

  • Religion and Religious Expression in the Academy and Public Life

Join us for a discussion on religion and religious expression in the academy and public life featuring Ross Douthat, a panel of scholars, and moderated by Willemien Otten (Professor of Theology and of the History of Christianity and Director of the Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School).

Presented by the Lumen Christi Institute,The Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion at the Divinity School,The Institute of Politics, and the International House Global Voices Program.

Free and open to the public. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Office of Programs & External Relations in advance at 773-753-2274 or here.

Ross Douthat also delivered a luncheon address on "The State of Religion in America" at the University Club of Chicago on January 18.

You can subscribe to the Lumen Christi Institute Podcast via our Soundcloud pageiTunes channelStitcherTuneInListenNotesPodbeanPocket Casts, and Google Play Music.

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Institute of Politics.

Ross Douthat joined the New York Times as an op-ed columnist, the youngest in the paper's history, in April 2009. His column appears every Wednesday and Sunday. He has established himself as a nationally recognized commentator on politics, religion, moral values, and higher education. Previously, he was a senior editor at the Atlantic and a blogger for He is the author of To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism (forthcoming), Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (2012), Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class (2005), and co-author, with Reihan Salam, of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream (2008).

Willemien Otten is Professor of Theology and the History of Christianity; also in the College; Associate Faculty in the Department of History, Social Sciences Division at the University of Chicago. She holds an M.A. and PhD from the University of Amsterdam. Otten studies the history of Christianity and Christian thought with a focus on the Western medieval and the early Christian intellectual tradition, including the continuity of Platonic themes. She is coeditor of Eriugena and Creation (2014), On Religion and Memory (2013), and the Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine (430–2000) (2013). Her most recent book is Thinking Nature and the Nature of Thinking: From Eriugena to Emerson (2020).

Geoffrey R. Stone is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Mr. Stone joined the faculty in 1973, after serving as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. He later served as Dean of the Law School (1987-1994) and Provost of the University of Chicago (1994-2002). Stone is the author of many books on constitutional law, including Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century (2017). He is an editor of The Supreme Court Review and chief editor of a twenty-volume series, Inalienable Rights, which is being published by the Oxford University Press. Appointed by President Obama to serve on the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, he is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the America Law Institute, the National Advisory Council of the American Civil Liberties Union, a member of the American Philosophical Society, and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Council for Democracy and Technology.


Laurie Zoloth is the Margaret E. Burton Professor and Dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School. A leader in the field of religious studies with particular scholarly interest in bioethics and Jewish studies, Zoloth’s research explores religion and ethics, drawing from sources ranging from Biblical and Talmudic texts to postmodern Jewish philosophy, including the writings of Emmanuel Levinas. Her scholarship spans the ethics of genetic engineering, stem cell research, synthetic biology, social justice in health care, and how science and medicine are taught. As a founding board member of the Society for Scriptural Reasoning, she also researches the practices of interreligious dialogue, exploring how religion plays a role in public discussion and policy. Zoloth is author of Health Care and the Ethics of Encounter: A Jewish Discussion of Social Justice and co-editor of five books, including Notes from a Narrow Ridge: Religion and Bioethics and Jews and Genes: The Genetic Future in Contemporary Jewish Thought.

William Schweiker is the Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He holds an MDiv from Duke University and a PhD from the University of Chicago, His scholarship and teaching engage theological and ethical questions attentive to global dynamics, comparative religious ethics, the history of ethics, and hermeneutical philosophy. His many books include Religion and the Human Future: An Essay in Theological Humanism (2008, with David E. Klemm); Dust that Breathes: Christian Faith and the New Humanisms (2010); and Religious Ethics: Meaning and Method (2020, with David Clairmont). He has published numerous articles and award-winning essays, as well as edited and contributed to six volumes, including Humanity Before God: Contemporary Faces of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Ethics  and was chief editor and contributor to A Companion to Religious Ethics, a comprehensive and innovative work in the field of comparative religious ethics.

William T. Cavanaugh is a Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology at DePaul University. He holds an M.A. from Cambridge University and a PhD from Duke University. His major areas of research have to do with the Church’s encounter with social, political, and economic realities. Cavanaugh has published numerous books and articles, including Migrations of the Holy: Theologies of State and Church, The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict, and Field Hospital: the Church’s Engagement in Markets, Politics, and Conflict.