Dr. James Ginther, Dean of the Faculty of Theology of the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) at the University of Toronto, is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Mara Brecht to the Patrick and Barbara Keenan Visiting Chair in Religious Education for the 2017-2018 academic year at the Faculty of Theology.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Harvard Divinity School, and Fordham University, Dr. Brecht is Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. Norbert College, in De Pere, Wisconsin, where she teaches courses on systematic theology, world religions, Christianity and cultural diversity, and interreligious dialogue. Her areas of interest include religious diversity, interreligious dialogue, and theologies of religious pluralism. She is especially interested in approaches to these areas that are rooted in analytic philosophy, the philosophy of religion, and feminist theory. Dr. Brecht’s most recent publication is Teaching Comparative Theology in the Millennial Classroom: Hybrid Identities, Negotiated Boundaries, which she co-edited with USMC’s Dr. Reid Locklin.
“I’m thrilled by the opportunity to spend the year as the Keenan Chair at St. Mike’s,” Dr. Brecht says. “My excitement, in large part, comes from the opportunity to focus for a year on my scholarly interest, which, broadly speaking, is the formation of Christian religious identity in contexts of difference, and the opportunity to interact with a new set of colleagues and students.
“Most of my work has emphasized contexts of religious diversity, but my current research looks also at racial diversity. Since the Keenan Chair focuses on the area of religious education, I will hone in on developing pedagogies to help students consider the ways their racial identity intersects with their theological self-understanding and, by extension, their orientation to religious others. I have no doubt my project will be enriched by the conversations I’ll be able to be a part of!”
Dean James Ginther says that Dr. Brecht’s work in religious and racial diversity will find a ready audience at the Faculty of Theology.
“Having Dr. Brecht with us in the 2017-2018 academic year will shine a spotlight on topics so important to a theological school in Toronto, one of the most culturally and spiritually diverse cities in the world,” Dr. Ginther notes. “There is so much to be learned – and so much to be gained – in dialogue with others.”
As well as conducting research, Dr. Brecht will also teach a course and deliver a public lecture while at the Faculty.
The Keenan Chair was established in 2002 thanks to the generosity of Patrick and Barbara Keenan, and was designed to launch a major graduate teaching initiative in religious education in Canada’s largest English-speaking Catholic university.
Currently, the Keenan Chair is held by Dr. Mary Hess.
(Photo of Dr. Brecht courtesy of St. Norbert College.)