Ethics/Religion and Society Program

Current E/RS Events

All E/RS sponsored events are free and open to members of the Xavier University Community.


E/RS Distinguished Speakers Series:

Imagining the Human Future


The Human Community presently faces distinctive practical challenges unlike any other experienced in its long history.  Rapid bio/technological advance combined with the impact of ongoing ecological degradation and increasing geopolitical instability has generated a perilous situation of existential risk, where the future of Humanity and its flourishing is rendered increasingly uncertain.  An effective response to these novel global challenges requires a creative expansion of the moral imagination, as well as a collective reorientation towards the pursuit of the Common Good. 

Our 2021-2024 Distinguished Speakers Series will bring together a variety of visionary, innovative presenters from within academia, government, and industry in order to address aspects of planetary well-being and to engage in public dialogue with members of the Xavier Community concerning issues of the Environment, Public Health, and Emerging Bio/Technologies.  The focal theme for the 2022-2023 academic year is the Environment.

Community Conversations

The community conversations sponsored by E/RS are opportunities for local leaders and the Xavier campus to discuss current issues of common concern in the Cincinnati area. Panel discussions will be followed by questions from the audience.


E/RS Events for Spring 2024



Special Event: The Meaning of Sabbath - A Conversation with Film maker Martin Doblmeier

Please join us for an annotated screening and panel discussion of Martin Doblmeier's new film, Sabbath

Presented as a collection of short stories, the documentary film Sabbath explores the history of one of the world's most important spiritual practices and its timeless relevance for our contemporary world.

Featuring Director Martin Doblmeier in conversation with Professor Waleed El-Ansary, Rabbi Jennifer Lewis, and Dr. John Sniegocki 

Wednesday, March 13th @ 7PM - Kennedy Auditorium (CLC 412)

Biographical Note:

Martin Doblmeier holds degrees in Religious Studies, Broadcast Journalism and honorary degrees in Fine Arts and Humane Letters. Since 1984 he has produced and directed more than 30 films focused on religion, faith and spirituality. Martin combines a lifelong interest in religion with a passion for storytelling. Over the years he has traveled on location to more than forty countries to profile numerous religious leaders, spiritual communities, heads of state and Nobel Laureates. His films explore how belief can lead individuals to extraordinary acts, how spirituality creates and sustains communities and how faith is lived in extraordinary ways.

Co-sponsored by the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Theology, and the Ethics/Religion and Society Program.


E/RS Events for Fall 2023


Ethics/Religion and Society Distinguished Speakers Series Lecture:

Professor Christopher J. Preston, Professor of Philosophy, University of Montana

"Home Techné or Homo Naturalis?: Engineering and Restoration as Paths to a Desirable Future"

Tuesday, October 24th @ 7PM - Kennedy Auditorium (CLC 412)

Biographical Note:

Christopher J. Preston is a writer and environmental philosophy professor based at the University of Montana in Missoula. Author of four books and several edited collections, his work centers on wildlife, technology, and climate change. His new book, Tenacious Beasts: Wildlife Recoveries That Change How We Think About Animals investigates a number of species back from the brink of extinction. He meets the scientists, indigenous leaders, and activists responsible for their return and uncovers what these tenacious species have to teach. His previous book, The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World, has been translated into six languages and won a silver medal from Nautilus in the ecology and environment category. Christopher also writes for magazines and newspapers including The Atlantic, Smithsonian, Discover, Orion, Sierra, The Conversation, the Wall Street Journal, and The BBC. He gives talks in state parks, libraries, and breweries across Montana to audiences interested in conservation and technology. In early 2023, he won an annual award from the International Society for Environmental Ethics for his work as a public philosopher.




Ethics/Religion and Society Distinguished Speakers Series Lecture:

Professor Willis Jenkins, Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

"Contemplative Life Amidst Mass Extinction: a Theological Case for Creaturely Rights"

The Ethics/Religion and Society Program warmly invites you to attend the first of this year's Distinguished Speakers Series Lectures by Professor Willis Jenkins, Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.

Thursday, September 21st @ 7PM - Kennedy Auditorium (CLC 412)
Biographical Note:

Willis Jenkins lives in the Rivanna River watershed (Monacan land), where he works as Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He is author of two award-winning books: Ecologies of Grace, which won a Templeton Award for Theological Promise, and The Future of Ethics, which won an American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence. He is co-editor of several books, including the Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology, and a number of essays along intersections of religion, ethics, and environmental humanities. Jenkins co-directs the Coastal Futures Conservatory which integrates arts and humanities into coastal change research at the National Science Foundation’s Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research site


 E/RS Events for Spring 2023




Climate Change and Intersectionality: Expanding the Conversations

How is our consideration of environmental issues, such as climate change, transformed when considered through an intersectional lens, attentive to realities of race, class, and gender? Can our awareness of systematic factors, such as relationships of power, and patterns of injustice and exclusion deepen our understanding of what environmental justice requires?

Please join us in welcoming Professor Kevin J. O'Brien (Department of Religion, Pacific Lutheran University) as he engages issues of social and environmental justice in conversation with Professors Kristine Suna-Koro (Theology), Bethany Henning (Philosophy/ERS) and Mich Nyawalo (RIGS).

Tuesday, April 18th @ 4:30PM - Conaton Board Room (2nd Floor, Schmidt Hall)

Co-sponsored by the Ethics/Religion and Society Program in collaboration with the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue.


Kevin J. O’Brien is Professor of Religion and Environmental Studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. His teaching and research focus on environmental ethics and climate change, stressing the intersections of ethics, religion, nonviolence, and social justice.  Recent books include Environmental Ethics and Uncertainty: Wrestling with Wicked Problems, with Whitney Bauman; The Violence of Climate Change: Lessons of Resistance from Nonviolent Activists; and An Introduction to Christian Environmentalism, with Kathryn Blanchard.





E/RS Speakers Series Event - "Reckoning with and Recovering Loss: The Ethics of Extinction and De-Extinction"

Many find the prospect of developing genetic technologies to resurrect extinct species exciting.  Some see it as a means of restoring damaged ecosystems and protecting biodiversity; others as a way of redressing deeper harms and injustices caused by the longstanding human impact on Nature.    Yet the proposed "De-extinction Project" also raises many answered ethical and religious questions: Is "de-extinction" a form of creation or restoration?  What is it, exactly, that de-extinction brings back?  And what value, if any, should we assign to the end products of this re/creative process?  What ethical and/or religious values should guide our consideration of current proposals surrounding de-extinction?

Please join the Ethics/Religion and Society Program in collaboration with the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue as we welcome Dr. Lisa Sideris, Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who will discuss these and related questions during her  upcoming lecture, "Reckoning with and Recovering Loss: The Ethics of Extinction and De-Extinction". 


Monday, February 20th @ 7PM, Kennedy Auditorium (CLC 412)

Co-sponsored by the Ethics/Religion and Society Program in collaboration with the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue.


E/RS Events for Fall 2022




E/RS Speakers Series Event - "Mindful Utopianism: Real Possibilities for Solving the Ecological Crisis"


Does the need to respond to urgent challenges presented by our current economic and socio-political situation necessarily outweigh ethical aspirations concerning environmental stewardship and civic responsibility?  Or can those deeper normative convictions and ideals serve as critical resources in formulating our practical response to the various challenges we presently face?  Join us for a presentation and panel discussion featuring environmental engineer Drew Pendergrass, co-author (with Troy Vettese) of "Half-Earth Socialism: A Plan to Save the Future from Extinction, Climate Change, and Pandemics",  in conversation with Dr. Suparna Chatterjee (Sustainability and Global Cultures History) and Dr. Timothy Brownlee (Philosophy, Politics, and the Public) as we consider alternative practical possibilities that transcend "mainstream" neoliberal and technocratic approaches to the environment (e.g., geoengineering, "cap and trade" policies).


Thursday, October 20th @ 4PM at the Kennedy Auditorium (CLC 412).


Co-sponsored by the Ethics/Religion and Society Program in collaboration with the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue.



E/RS Community Conversations Event - "Who's qualified to talk about the Environment?"

The Community Conversations series is a key element of the Ethics/Religion and Society Program, which aims to bring local community members into thoughtful dialogue concerning contemporary issues of ethical and social significance. We are pleased to host a panel composed of faculty members from the hard sciences (Annie Ray, Biology), the humanities (Lisa Ottum, English), and the social sciences (John Fairfield, History), who will engage the question of disciplinary authority and interdisciplinary cooperation in relation to environmental issues. Please join us for a thoughtful discussion about the values of research, expertise, and collaboration in the midst of our present ecological crisis.


Wednesday, November 2nd @ 3PM in the Arrupe Overlook, Gallagher Student Center



On Monday, November 14th, Wajahat Ali, the author of "Go Back To Where You Came From, And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American," will present a lecture on how religious and cultural difference can bring us together, not rip us apart. Ali will discuss how, while America today is divided and confused and can often feel like an intolerant space where diverse communities are the frequent targets of bigotry and far-right ideology, he imagines an America remade, united over our shared values, not torn apart by racism or hate. He calls to create a "Multicultural Coalition of the Willing," a sort of Justice League of diverse Americans who can unite over commonalities. Ali insists in this lecture he imagines a way to achieve the American Dream for everyone. A book signing and reception will follow the lecture. The event is sponsored by the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue with additional support from the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Take it On Xavier, the Ethics, Religion and Society Program, the Smith Scholars Program, and the Center for International Education. Additional support was provided by friends of Wajahat Ali.

Monday, November 14th @ 7PM, Conaton Board Room, 2nd floor, Schmidt Hall


E/RS Events for Spring 2022


McKibben Poster for E/RS

The Ethics/Religion and Society Program and the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue warmly invite you to join

"A Conversation with Bill McKibben", Wednesday, April 20th @ 4PM. (online)

Bill McKibben is a founder of Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60 to work on climate and racial justice. He founded the first global grassroots climate campaign,, and serves as the Schumann Distinguished Professor in Residence at Middlebury College in Vermont. In 2014 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel,’ in the Swedish Parliament. He’s also won the Gandhi Peace Award, and has received honorary degrees from 19 colleges and universities. McKibben has written over a dozen books about the environment, including his first, The End of Nature, published in 1989, and the forthcoming The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at his Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened.

As a preliminary to Earth Day 2022, McKibben will address issues of climate justice in his lecture, "Stop the World from Burning -- Justice and Practicality, Youth and Age".

This event is free and open to members of the Xavier University Community and also to members of the general public.

To view the Conversation with Bill McKibben, please click here.


Miller Poster for E/RS

2022 Annual Sustainability Lecture:

"While Nations Promise, Cities Deliver"


David Miller will give the Xavier University Annual Sustainability Lecture on Thursday, April 21st at 7:00 p.m. in the Health United Building Commons.  Miller, whose previous roles include mayor of Toronto, Chair of the influential C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and President & CEO of World Wildlife Fund, is a leading voice in seeking out and promoting climate change solutions. He is currently the Director of International Diplomacy at the C40 Climate Leadership Group. While mayor of Toronto (2003-2010), Miller helped the city garner international acclaim for its environmental leadership, economic strength and social integration. He is a leading advocate for the creation of sustainable urban economies and a strong and forceful champion for the next generation of jobs through sustainability.


Thursday, April 21st @ 7PM at in the Fourth Floor Commons of the Health United Building, Xavier University.

This event is presented by the Xavier University Sustainability Committee in collaboration with the Ethics/Religion and Society Program and the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue.

The event is free and open to members of the public.

To view the 2022 Sustainability Lecture with David Miller, please click here.



Ignlis and Lipinski poster for E/RS



 “Healing our Political Divides: A Climate Conversation”


The Ethics/Religion and Society Program and the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, in collaboration with Take it On and the Building Bridges Restorative Justice Project, warmly welcome former Congressmen Robert Inglis (R-SC) and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) to campus on Monday, April 11th for a conversation "across the aisle" concerning the respective roles of social, political and economic institutions (government and the market) in promoting Climate Action.


Robert Inglis, J.D., is the Executive Director of, a growing grassroots community of over 10,000 Americans educating the country about free-enterprise solutions to climate change.  Elected to the U.S. Congress in 1992, he represented Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina,  from 1993-1998 and from 2004 -2010.   In 2011, Inglis went full-time into promoting free enterprise action on climate change and in July 2012 launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, later to become,  Hosted at the George Mason University Foundation, this  501(c)(3) organization educates, recruits and organizes conservative voices for action on climate change.  Inglis was a Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics in 2011, a Visiting Energy Fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2012, and Resident Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics in 2014, and for his work on climate change Inglis was given the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Inglis grew up in the Low country of South Carolina, went to Duke University for college, met and married his college sweetheart, graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law and practiced commercial real estate law in Greenville, S.C., before and between his years in Congress. Bob and Mary Anne Inglis have five children (a son and four daughters). They live on a small farm in northern Greenville County, South Carolina.


Daniel Lipinski, Ph.D., is currently President of Lipinski Solutions, LLC, a consulting company.  Dr. Lipinski represented the Third District of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from 2005 to 2021. A rarity in contemporary politics, Lipinski was known as a highly knowledgeable and effective lawmaker who worked to bring people together across the aisle to solve problems. He authored 18 laws in a wide variety of issue areas including laws which boosted American manufacturing, increased research funding for the National Science Foundation, spurred technological innovation, protected the environment and fought climate change, empowered victims of sexual assault, expanded consumers’ rights, and honored veterans. Lipinski served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee where he chaired the Subcommittee on Rail, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials as well as the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee where he chaired and served as ranking member of the Research and Technology Subcommittee.  After completing a B.S. (Northwestern University) and an M.S. (Stanford University) in engineering, Lipinski earned his Ph.D. in American Politics from Duke University and won the American Political Science Association’s Carl Albert Dissertation Award for best dissertation in legislative studies. He authored Congressional Communication: Content and Consequences (University of Michigan Press) as well as several articles and book chapters on Congress and the legislative process.   Most recently, he has published articles in First Things, America, The Atlantic, and Public Discourse, as well as op-eds in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune. He also has a chapter in Under the Iron Dome: Congress from the Inside (Routledge 2021).


Please join us for what promises to be an engaging conversation "across the aisle". 


Monday, April 11th at the Arrupe Overlook, Gallagher Student Center, Xavier University. 

5:30pm: Informal reception

6:00pm: Main discussion followed by Q and A. 

This event is free and open to the public.


For more information, please contact James Helmer (, Mack Mariani (  or Christo Fosse (


Imagining the Human Future: Roy Scranton 

"Climate Change and the Virtues of Pessimism"

(response by Richard Polt, Professor of Philosophy)


Photo of Roy Scranton

Roy Scranton is the author of five books, including Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization, the monograph Total Mobilization: World War II and American Literature, and the novel War Porn. His essays, articles, and reviews have been published in the New York Times, MIT Technology Review, The New Republic, and elsewhere. He was the recipient of a Mrs. Giles G. Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities (2014–2015), was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences at Rice University (2016), was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship in Fiction (2017), and is currently a fellow at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Studies. He is an associate professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches creative writing and environmental humanities, and is the Director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative.


Thursday, February 10th, 2022, 4:30-6:00PM, at the Kennedy Auditorium, Conaton Learning Commons Room 412


co-sponsored by the Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue (Brueggeman Center for Dialogue)




Past E/RS events