Because theological discourse is plausible, meaningful, and helpful when it coheres with current knowledge about the world, I am drawn as a systematician/ethicist to researching and teaching the constructive relationship between religion and science. I am motivated by students, who express their sense of "peace" when realizing that they do not have to choose between science and their religious faith, and by science faculty, who delight in knowing how scholars are treating theology in relation to the natural sciences without confusing, conflating, or separating them. With the hope that informed faith will bring about changes in thinking and acting needed in our age of ecological degradation, I pursue promising religious foundations for addressing environmental concerns.
My efforts contribute to the Department of Theology’s work by bridging Catholic theology and the discourse of other Abrahamic traditions with the natural sciences to identify cogent ways of thinking about God in relation to the world and the human creature in relation to God and God’s creation. Recognizing that theologians throughout history have reflected from their understandings of the world, I teach undergraduate and graduate students to engage in theological discourse informed by our contemporary scientific view of the world, often with the assistance of faculty from the various scientific disciplines who lecture in my courses and/or with whom I team-teach. I expose my students to the study of other world religions by exploring their promising foundations for responding to ecological concerns. My research and writing primarily on Catholic foundations for environmental ethics connects a scientifically informed understanding of Homo sapiens with the theologically grounded understanding of the human person’s responsibility to God for relating to other creatures in ways that are compatible with our mutual well being. Through the Albertus Magnus Circle, I explore with Marquette faculty issues at the boundaries of theology, the natural sciences, and philosophy. Finally, I interface theology with additional disciplines, including the social sciences, engineering, and the humanities, when directing the Interdisciplinary Minor in Environmental Ethics and teaching its capstone seminar.