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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

"What Does Citizenship Mean in America Today?"

seminar for boston college faculty members

Faculty seminar participants
(Clockwise from left) Mara Willard, Martin Summers, Erik Owens, Vincent Rougeau, Jeffrey Bloechl, Candace Hetzner, M. Cathleen Kaveny and Mark Massa, S.J.

The Boisi Center is hosting a year-long faculty seminar during the 2017-18 academic year, "What Does Citizenship Mean in America Today?" It is an interdisciplinary dialogue among twelve BC faculty on the role and meaning of citizenship in contemporary America, as well as the prospects for democracy in the new landscape of American culture.

Among the "big ideas" we may consider: the distinction between legal and normative conceptions of citizenship, and the implications of each; the relationship between ethnic nationalism, multiculturalism, and "globalism" (and thus "global citizenship"); "civil religion" and its various critics; the ethical impulses informing political activism; civil disobedience and prophetic witness; the concept of open borders; and the viability of past "answers" (such as "Christian realism").

Faculty Symposium 2017/18

Jeff Bloechl

At present, I am finishing two books: one a hermeneutics of Christian life centered on faith, hope and love, and one on the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. Closer to the theme of the seminar, I am organizing a conference on "Educating for Modern Democracy," which will take place on our campus November 7-10.

David Deese

My research assesses the more promising solutions for the rapidly growing, least regulated sources of greenhouse gas emissions--international civil aviation and ocean shipping.  I teach a grad seminar on global public goods and an undergrad elective on the politics of energy and climate policies.

Frank Garcia

I am teaching Trade & Investment Law and International Business Transactions this semester, and my seminar on Globalization and International Economic Law in the Spring.  I am in the last stages of finishing a book MS on a consent theory of trade, and working on the normative basis for a critique of contemporary foreign investment law, while looking ahead towards the larger question of the economic law a global market society needs to ensure human flourishing.  So the seminar is giving me a lot to think about!

Candace Hetzner

I am presently teaching a freshman political theory course entitled Fundamental Concepts of Politics, continuing with my work as graduate Fulbright advisor and theScoville Fellowship advisor,  participating as a mentor for the McNair Program, and continuing my research on the erosion of authority and responsibility in America.

Ken Himes, O.F.M.

This semester I am teaching in the PULSE program and leading a grad seminar on ethical issues in war and peace. Current research project is examining Catholic social teaching and the non-economic effects of economic inequality.

M. Cathleen Kaveny

I am teaching contract law to first year law students, as well as upper level interdisciplinary seminars on topics related to law, religion, and morality, and working on a book on complicity.

Mark Massa, S.J.

I am currently finishing a book for Oxford University Press on the history of natural law debates within the American Catholic community. Entitled The Structure of Theological Revolutions, it utilizes Thomas Kuhn's model of "paradigm revolutions" to question how "realist" the Catholic tradition of theological realism actually is.

Arissa Oh

This semester I'm teaching 2 undergraduate classes: "Nannies, Maids & Mail-Order Brides" (on gender and migration in US history) and another called "The American Pacific." In terms of research, I'm working on a history of marriage migration and immigration fraud in the US over the long 20th century (I think!).

Erik Owens

This academic year I am teaching interdisciplinary courses on "Ethics, Religion and International Politics" (Theology/International Studies) and "Religion(s) and American Public Schools" (Theology/Education). I'm currently at work on an article entitled "Religion Education and Global Citizenship: A Match Made in Heaven?"

Vincent Rougeau

My work right now is looking at how global migration is challenging settled democratic arrangements in North America and Europe, which is contributing to the rise of right wing populism and ethno-nationalism.  In particular, I have been interested in how we understand the role of religion in public life in this context.  How will we respond to a decline in religious identification among white Christians, ethnic shifts in the make up of major religious groups such as Evangelicals and Catholics, and an increasing public presence of non-Christians and non-believers?

Martin Summers

In addition to teaching a survey on the history of the African diaspora, I teach courses on gender and sexuality in African American history and the history of medicine and public health in the African Diaspora. I'm currently finishing a book on race and mental illness in the 19th and 20th century US.

Mara Willard

Mara Willard is this year's Visiting Scholar at the Boisi Center. She is finishing a book on a how Hannah Arendt, a German-Jewish contemporary of Reinhold Niebuhr,employed resources from the Augustinian tradition for her post-war political theory.