Theological society meeting attracts younger attendees

This story appears in the CTSA 2015 feature series. View the full series.

by Heidi Schlumpf

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A substantial number of younger scholars were among the more than 400 academics attending the annual Catholic Theological Society of America convention in Milwaukee June 11-14, reflecting a trend of attracting younger members and students.

Conference organizer Bradford Hinze of Fordham University in New York said the CTSA board has made a concerted effort to offer more scholarships for younger members who want to attend the convention. “That effort has made a really big difference,” he said.

This year 86 scholarships were granted, primarily to graduate students, to help pay for travel and other expenses.

In addition, the society elected a younger scholar as a new board member. Natalia Imperatori-Lee of Manhattan College in New York has been teaching there for nine years.

“It’s central to the survival of the CTSA to incorporate younger voices,” said Imperatori-Lee, adding that she has felt “at home” in the society and believes it does a good job at being open to all types of diversity.

“But there are critical perspectives my generation can bring to the board, including strategies for recognizing the diversity of the people of God at all levels,” she said.

Karen Ross, a doctoral student at Loyola University Chicago who was attending the convention for the first time, said she enjoyed seeing and hearing prominent theologians she has studied and taught. Although Ross has previously attended the Society of Christian Ethics conference, “it’s exciting to go to something that’s particularly Catholic,” she said.  

In addition, the CTSA also created an award in 2005 specifically to recognize scholarship by younger members. The Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award honors the best theological essay by current graduate students in theology or religious studies, or by those who have held their doctoral degree for fewer than five years. It is named for the feminist theologian who died of cancer in 1997.

This year’s LaCugna Award winner is Nichole Marie Flores, a doctoral candidate in theological ethics at Boston College, for her essay, “Beyond Consumptive Solidarity: An Aesthetic Response to Modern Day Slavery.”

Also elected at the CTSA meeting were new board member Catherine E. Clifford of Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, and vice president Mary E. Hines of Emmanuel College in Boston. The current secretary, Natalie Kertes Weaver of Ursuline College in Ohio, and current treasurer, Jozef D. Zalot of College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, were both re-elected for a one-year term.  

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