Santurri named new Martin E. Marty Professor
St. Olaf College Professor of Religion and Philosophy Edmund Santurri has been appointed to the Martin E. Marty Chair in Religion and the Academy for the 2016-17 academic year.
The Martin Marty Chair symbolizes what it means to live and work at the intersection of faith and reason. The chair provides opportunities to address significant religious issues and to respond to wider cultural issues in a thoughtful and faithful way.
The theme of the chair this year is “Theology in a Pluralistic World: The Study of Religion at St. Olaf College.” Santurri chose this theme because, he explains, “the college has as one of its central academic missions the cultivation of theological literacy, and Christian theology has always fashioned itself in conversation with alternative ways of construing reality and the meaning of human existence.”
“But,” he asks, “what should that conversation look like at this point in our history, particularly at a college that is also committed to diversity and global perspective?”
In order to encourage the St. Olaf community to ponder this question, Santurri has begun to organize events such as the Symposium on Religious and Political Disagreement and Debating Religious Freedom Today.
These events also involve Santurri’s role as director of the Institute for Freedom and Community, whose spring theme “Religion and Public Life” harmonizes well with his charge as Marty Chair.
The Institute is dedicated to meaningful debate of important political and social issues and founded on the belief that civil discourse is essential in democracy. It promotes such discourse through academic coursework, public lectures and debates, scholarly and undergraduate research, and internships for students.
Santurri explains that he imagines four different kinds of pluralistic theological conversations — “ecumenical conversation among diverse Christian denominations; conversation among Christian and other religious worldviews represented in global community; conversation among competing construals of religious meaning that emerge from diverse cultural, ethnic, gender, social, and historical locations; and conversation between religious and non-religious worldviews.”
“I hope to stimulate some communal reflection on the theme and on how we should embody these theological conversations in the St. Olaf curriculum today,” Santurri says.