M. Shawn Copeland

Professor Emerita of Theology M. Shawn Copeland

Professor Emerita of Theology M. Shawn Copeland recently received the Civitas Dei Medal from Villanova University. The award—which takes its name from the Latin title of St. Augustine’s City of God—honors Catholics who have made exemplary contributions to the Catholic intellectual tradition and the pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness.

Copeland’s research focuses on shifts in theological understanding of the human person, the African American Catholic experience, and issues pertinent to political or praxis-based theologies. Her books include Knowing Christ Crucified: The Witness of African American Religious Experience, Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being, and The Subversive Power of Love: The Vision of Henriette Delille.

She is the principal editor of Uncommon Faithfulness: The Black Catholic Experience, the editor (with Laurie Cassidy) of Desire, Darkness, and Hope: Theology in a Time of Impasse, Engaging the Thought of Constance FitzGerald, OCD, and the editor (with Jeremy Wilkins) of Grace and Friendship: Theological Essays in Honor of Fred Lawrence. With Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Copeland co-edited two volumes of the international theological journal Concilium. She has authored 135 articles, reviews and book chapters, and has served on several editorial boards.

She has served as convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium and as the first African American president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. She is an elected member of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, the Society for Values in Higher Education and the American Theological Society. She is a recipient of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities’ Monika Hellwig Award and the Catholic Theological Society of America’s John Courtney Murray Award.

This academic year, she is holder of the Vincentian Chair of Social Justice at St. John’s University in New York.

A video of this year’s ceremony and lecture is available here.


University Communications | March 2023