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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Race, Religion, and Social Change: A Campus Conversation

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Ferguson faith leaders

Shawn Copeland, Boston College
Nichole Flores, St. Anselm College
Walter Fluker, Boston University
Moderated by Erik Owens, Boston College

Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Time: 5:00-6:30 PM
Location: Devlin 008

The Boisi Center will live-tweet this event. Join the conversation at #BCTalksRace.

Abstract: In the wake of national debates on race following last year’s incidents in Ferguson and Staten Island, campuses all across America are struggling to respond appropriately. As part of Boston College’s ongoing efforts to shed light on the role of race in America, three speakers from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds will join us on March 25 to continue the campus conversation. More specifically, the panelists will examine the intersection of race, religion, and movements of social change, from both contemporary and historical perspectives.


M. Shawn Copeland is professor of systematic theology at Boston College. She has also taught at St. Norbert College, Yale University Divinity School, and Marquette University. Copeland is recognized as one of the most important influences in North America in drawing attention to issues related to the religious, cultural, and social experience of African American Catholics. She has written more than 100 articles, reviews, and book chapters on such topics as theological anthropology, suffering, freedom, gender, and race. Recent publications include The Subversive Power of Love: The Vision of Henriette Delille and Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race and Being; she is also the principal editor of Uncommon Faithfulness: The Black Catholic Experience. Copeland is a former convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS), an interdisciplinary learned society of Black Catholic scholars; and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA). She received her Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston College.  


Nichole Flores is an instructor in the Department of Theology at St. Anselm College. Her research emphasizes the contributions of Catholic and U.S. Latino/a theologies to notions of justice, emotion, and aesthetics as they relate to the common good within plural socio-political contexts. Her published work appears in the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics (JSCE) and Feminist Catholic Theological Ethics: Conversations in the World Church, and her theological writing has been featured in America Magazine and on the Washington Post On Faith Blog. She earned her B.A. from Smith College, her M.Div from Yale Divinity School, and expects to defend her Ph.D dissertation at Boston College in May 2015. In August, she will transition to a new role as assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia.


Walter Fluker is the Martin Luther King, Jr., Professor of Ethical Leadership the Boston University School of Theology, where he is also the editor of the Howard Thurman Papers Project and the director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Initiative for the Development of Ethical Leadership (MLK-IDEAL). He was founding executive director of the Leadership Center and the Coca-Cola Professor of Leadership Studies at Morehouse College. Known as an expert in the theory and practice of ethical leadership, Fluker has served on numerous committees and boards, and has served as a consultant and workshop leader for a diverse set of organizations, including Goldman Sachs, the Department of Education, and the Department of State. He is the author of Ethical Leadership: The Quest for Character, Civility and Community and is currently completing a manuscript, The Ground Has Shifted: Essays on Spirituality, Ethics and Leadership from African American Moral Traditions. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and biblical studies from Trinity College, a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Seminary, and his Ph.D. in Social Ethics from Boston University.


Erik Owens is 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. Co-chair of the American Academy of Religion's Religion and Politics section, he also sits on the AAR's Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion and the steering committee of the AAR's "Religion and Public Schools: International Perspectives" group. He 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.

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