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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Erik Owens

associate director

Erik Owens Action

Erik Owens is the associate director of the Boisi Center and associate professor of the practice in theology and international studies at Boston College. His research explores a variety of intersections between religion and public life, with particular attention to the challenge of fostering the common good of a religiously diverse society. His interdisciplinary scholarship bridges the fields of theological ethics, political philosophy, law, education, international studies and public policy.

He is the co-editor of three books: Gambling: Mapping the American Moral Landscape (2009), Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning (2004) and The Sacred and the Sovereign: Religion and International Politics (2003), the last of which was called a "must read" by Foreign Affairs in 2009.

Based in the Theology Department, Owens is also a core faculty member in the International Studies Program. He teaches interdisciplinary courses on ethics and religion in international politics; religion in American public life; religion and public schools; political theology. Starting in 2017 he is team-teaching a Summer Abroad course with Prof. Stephen Pope on justice and reconciliation in South Africa.     

At the American Academy of Religion, Owens chairs the Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion and leads its Public Scholars Program in partnership with several academic centers and non-partisan institutions. He has also served as co-chair of the Religion and Politics section, and on the founding steering committee of the "Religion and Public Schools: International Perspectives" program unit.

Owens sits on the national advisory board of the Newseum Institute's Religious Freedom Center and the new InterReligious Institute at Chicago Theological Seminary. He is a member of the editorial/academic advisory boards of two European journals in comparative politics and education: Ad Americam [based at Jagiellonian University, Krakow]; and Theo-Web Journal of Religious Education [from the German Association of Religious Education Scholars]. 

Owens received his Ph.D. in religious ethics from the University of Chicago, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from Duke University.

Before joining the Boisi Center, Owens received research fellowships from the Spencer Foundation and the University of Virginia’s Center on Religion and Democracy; he taught at the University of Chicago and DePaul University; and he worked for the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life as well as the City of Chicago’s Board of Ethics. During the 2015-16 academic year he was a research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University.

His Twitter handle is @erikowens.

To book an appointment during Prof. Owens' office hours, click here.

Hi-res headshot
Erik's Curriculum Vitae
Erik's Courses at Boston College
Erik's Boisi Center Events
Farewell note, May 2018