Theology Department (Systematic Theology)
Jame Schaefer (Ph.D., Marquette University, 1994, Systematics/Ethics) focuses on constructively relating theology, the natural sciences, and technology with special attention to religious foundations for ecological ethics.
She worked with faculty of other disciplines to develop the Interdisciplinary Minor in Environmental Ethics for which she served as Director on behalf of the College of Arts and Sciences 2001-2017, and advised Marquette Students for an Environmentally Active Campus 2002-2017. She involves faculty of various sciences in her courses, team-teaches with Physics an occasionally offered seminar on the origin and nature of the universe, and co-steers the Albertus Magnus Circle--an interdisciplinary faculty discussion group on religion-science issues. For her interdisciplinary efforts, she received a Religion and Science Course Award from the Templeton Foundation and a Quality and Excellence in Teaching Science and Religion Award from the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences.
She convened the Theology and Ecology and the Theology and Global Warming interest groups for the Catholic Theological Society of America for several years and maintains membership in the American Academy of Religion, the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, the College Theology Society, the International Society for Environmental Ethics, the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Society of Christian Ethics. She worked with an international team of scholars commissioned by the Higher Education Secretariat of the Society of Jesus to draft Healing Earth--an online interactive environmental science text motivated by Ignatian spirituality and oriented toward ethical action for use by seniors in Jesuit high schools and freshmen in Jesuit colleges throughout the world (http://healingearth.ijep.net), spearheaded a three-year project that yielded Guidelines for Interacting with Faith-Based Leaders and Communities: A Proposal by and for Members of the Society for Conservation Biology (2018), and compiled theological rationales for Judaic, Christian and Muslim communities in the Middle East and North Africa to individually and collaboratively address environmental problems under the auspices of the University of Connecticut’s Abrahamic Programs for Academic Collaboration in the MENA Region (2019).
Her publications include Theological Foundations for Environmental Ethics: Reconstructing Patristic and Medieval Concepts (Georgetown University Press, 2009), Confronting the Climate Crisis: Catholic Theological Perspectives (Marquette University Press, 2011), Environmental Justice and Climate Change: Assessing Pope Benedict XVI Ecological Vision for the Catholic Church in the United States (Lexington Books, 2013), essays in several edited volumes, articles in Cistercian Studies Quarterly, Environmental Ethics, Frontiers in Marine Science, Geosciences, International Journal for Climate Change Strategies and Management, Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture, Journal of Moral Theology, Theological Studies, and Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion, and the inaugural “Animals” entry in New Catholic Encyclopedia (2013).
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 of 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 ecological 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 sapienswith 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.
Office Hours - Fall 2019
- Tu 3:30-4:30
- Th 12:30-3:15
- And by appointment