Title: Religious Studies Educator
Company: Marquette University
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Jame Schaefer, Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Marquette University, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in scientifically informed theology and ecological ethics.
From 1995-2021, Dr. Schaefer offered undergraduate and graduate courses relating theology and the natural sciences and technology and examining foundations for ecological ethics in the world religions. She involved faculty of pertinent sciences and technologies in her courses, team-taught with a physicist an occasionally offered seminar on the origin and nature of the universe, teamed with a physicist and social scientist in teaching a methods of inquiry course on human-induced climate change, and delivered lectures to students in an introductory biology course for non-science majors. She also lectured several times in a doctoral seminar on sustainable engineering in which she explored characteristics of a “virtuous engineer.”
She served from 2001 to 2017 as the Director of the Interdisciplinary Minor in Environmental Ethics that she spearheaded with faculty in other departments and colleges at Marquette. From 2018 to 2021, she directed the Interdisciplinary Minor in Ethics.
For her interdisciplinary efforts, she received a Religion and Science Course Award from the Templeton Foundation in 1995 and a Quality and Excellence in Teaching Science and Religion Award from the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in 1998. Marquette advanced her academic status to the esteemed position of Professor Emerita upon her retirement in May 2021.
Among efforts beyond her academic responsibilities at Marquette were advising Students for an Environmentally Active Campus, co-steering the Albertus Magnus Circle–an interdisciplinary faculty discussion group on issues at the boundaries of theology, philosophy, and the natural sciences, and advising students seeking the Udall Scholarship for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to American Indian nations or to the environment.
Dr. Schaefer also excelled as a consultant in public participation in energy and environment issues through numerous appointments by local, state, and federal governments from 1980 to 2002.While serving as a consultant to the Science Advisory Board of the International Joint Commission on ways to involve the public in addressing problems in the Great Lakes, she began delving academically into her interests that eventually led to a doctoral degree in Religious Studies.
Her professional memberships include the American Academy of Religion, the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, the Catholic Theological Society of America, the College Theology Society, the International Society for Environmental Ethics, the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, the Society of Christian Ethics, and the Society for Conservation Biology. She led multi-year explorations of Catholic theology, ecology, and global warming by members of the CTSA.
She has published numerous articles and essays in theology, ethics, and conservation science journals and anthologies. Her books include Theological Foundations for Environmental Ethics: Reconstructing Patristic and Medieval Concepts (Georgetown University Press, 2009), Confronting the Climate Crisis: Catholic Theological Perspectives (Marquette University Press, 2011) and Environmental Justice and Climate Change: Assessing Pope Benedict XVI Ecological Vision for the Catholic Church in the United States (Lexington Books, 2013). She has served for several years as a handling editor of manuscripts submitted to the journal Conservation Biology that incorporate ethics, values, and/or religious faith and as a member of the editorial boards of Horizons and Global Ecology and Conservation.
At the request of the Higher Education Secretariat of the Society of Jesus, Dr. Schaefer helped draft Healing Earth, the online interactive environmental science text that is oriented toward faith-based ethical action. Healing Earth is used by students in Jesuit high schools, colleges, and religious communities throughout the world. She has been selected for inclusion in multiple editions of Who’s Who in America.
Following completion of a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1961 at Marquette where she was a Rosamund Gifford Scholar, Dr. Schaefer later continued her education to earn a Master of Arts in history in 1974 from the University of West Florida and a Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies from Marquette in 1994.
Key among scholars who influenced her efforts to constructively relate theology and the natural sciences are John Haught at Georgetown University, the late William Stoeger S.J. at the Vatican Observatory, and the late Ian Barbour who fathered the academic field focusing on the theology-natural sciences relationship.
As a career highlight, Dr. Schaefer cites teaching, researching, and publishing constructive ways of relating theology and the natural sciences that avoid conflicting, confusing, and separating them. Also significant is the “critical-creative method” she developed for retrieving concepts from the Catholic theological tradition, informing them with current scientific findings, and applying them successfully to address current ecological problems. She is hopeful that the guidelines she spearheaded on behalf of the Society for Conservation Biology for researchers and practitioners to consider following when interacting with religious leaders and their communities will continue to be helpful toward achieving mutually beneficial outcomes of conservation projects.
In the near future, Dr. Schaefer intends to complete writing contracts for Cambridge University Press and an encyclopedia entry on theological foundations and principles for ecological ethics invited by St. Andrews University Press. She plans to return working on a book manuscript expanding major principles of Catholic social teaching to address ecological and biospheric concerns that continue to plague the life-flourishing capacity of Earth.
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