Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life (IPE)

Summer Ethics Internship Program, 2018

The Ethics Internship Program is a very important part of the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life’s (IPE) overall program for undergraduate students.  The summer internships were started with funds from the Donchian Foundation and maintained with funds from the family of the late John Allen and Patricia Hollingsworth, from Michael Ross, from Missy Casscell, and from other donors as a way to integrate ethical theory and practice, the real-world and the academy. Student interns combine their summer experience with preparatory courses and post-internship narrative and analytic reports and discussions.  Students have a variety of placements in private (both for-profit and not-for-profit) and governmental contexts in both domestic and international settings, and, as noted below, may involve research, service, or learning or some combination of these.

Internship Program:  With support from the Hollingsworth family and others, the IPE sponsors and provides funds for several summer internships, which are awarded on a competitive basis.  The Institute expects to fund fifteen to twenty internships for Summer 2018.

Expectations: Those who receive awards will be expected to spend at least eight weeks in an internship (approved by the IPE), to meet with faculty at the IPE (and perhaps with other interns) to discuss aspects of their internship before it starts, to prepare, at the end of the summer, an 8-10 page narrative and analysis of the internship, with particular attention to questions and issues of ethics (broadly conceived), and to meet, in the fall semester, with other interns and Institute faculty to discuss their experiences.

Nature of Internship: Internships take a variety of forms:

  • Research
  • Service
  • Learning
  • Some combination of the above three

Stipend:  The IPE will usually provide a stipend of $2,000.00-2,500.00 toward students’ internships. If the internship is unpaid, a larger stipend may be available in a few cases, depending on location, living arrangements, etc.  If the internship receives financial support from other sources, the IPE stipend may be reduced in order to make the internships as equitable as possible. We will discuss specific financial arrangements with students after they have received notification of their awards and arranged their internships.

Identification of Internship Possibilities: It is up to students to arrange their specific internships, but the IPE will provide advice and guidance, including the names of organizations and persons who might have or know of possibilities. 

Additional Information:  Please write James F. Childress ( or Ruth Gaare Bernheim ( for more information. 

Deadline for Application: 5:00 PM, Friday, December 8, 2017

Notification of Awards: The IPE expects to announce the awards by early January 2018.


2017 postdoctoral fellows Brandy Daniels, Julia Kelto Lillis, K. Mohrman, and Ryan Schaffner

The department of Religious Studies welcomes four postdoctoral fellows for the academic year 2017-18. 

Brandy Daniels is a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer with the Luce Project on “Religion and its Publics.” Brandy has a Ph.D. in Theological Studies, with a minor in Ethics & Society and a certificate in Women’s & Gender Studies, from Vanderbilt University, where she was a fellow in the Program in Theology and Practice. Her research focuses on theological anthropology and practices of formation, exploring intersections between constructive theologies and feminist and queer theories to better understand and envision accounts of faithful Christian identity and community amidst difference. Her dissertation, “Who is the ‘We?’ Futurity and the Formation of Spiritual and Sexual Subjectivities,” draws on queer theoretical work on temporality and contemporary analyses of postliberal methodology to critically examine and challenge how feminist theological accounts of identity formation articulate and understand the relationship between Christian identity, on the one hand, and gender and sexual identities, on the other, in a way that undermines their aims and delimits difference. 

Brandy has published on topics ranging from Bonhoeffer and Foucault on racial identity, to poststructuralism and liberation theology, to Eastern Orthodox apophatic theology and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. She has served as a contributor to the Women in Theology blog and serves on the steering committee for the Queer Studies in Religion section of the AAR. Brandy is under-care for ordination with the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church). She is also an avid runner and Jeopardy fan. 

Julia Kelto Lillis is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in New Testament and Early Christianity.  Her primary research interests are in ancient constructions of social difference, especially in areas we today call gender and sexuality, and the ways these are discussed in early Christian literature.  Her doctoral work at Duke University focused on Early Christianity, with secondary specializations in New Testament and in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. 

Julia’s publications and conference presentations have drawn attention to diverse ancient conceptualizations of virginity, the history of New Testament canon formation, and the ancient reception of the story of Thecla, a quasi-biblical figure whose exploits prompt intriguing questions about early Christian reflection on gender.  She is currently working on a book project based on her dissertation, “Virgin Territory: Configuring Female Virginity in Early Christianity,” which overturns common assumptions about virginity in antiquity and explores the variety of definitions that early Christians and their neighbors formed for virginity as they discussed its value.  She serves on the executive board of the academic working group ReMeDHe (Religion, Medicine, Disability, and Health in late antiquity) and plans to unite her interests in ancient medical, social, and theological reasoning by focusing future research on the concepts of purity and pollution.

K. Mohrman is the 2017-2018 Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Mormon Studies. She received her PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota, her MA in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University, and BA in the Study of Women and Gender from Smith College. Her current project analyzes the central role Mormonism has played in shaping identity, culture, and nationalism in the US through the production of sexual and racial normativity. More specifically, it examines how political and cultural battles over LDS belief and practice have been vital to the construction and management of “inferior” and “deviant” racialized and sexualized assemblages in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Her research and teaching interests include American, Mormon, ethnic, and gender and sexuality studies; critical race theory and queer of color critique; histories of sexuality, capitalism, and law in the US; and popular and visual culture. She is currently teaching undergraduate and graduate courses including, “Mormonism and American Culture,” “Gender, Sexuality, and Politics in the Religious US,” “Religion and Sexuality,” and “Race, Religion, and Belonging in the US. 

Ryan Schaffner

The Relgious Studies department welcomes Ashon Crawley, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and African American and African Studies. Professor Crawley works in the areas of black studies, queer theory, sound studies, theology, continental philosophy, and performance studies. His first book project, Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press) investigates altenative modes of sociality present in the aesthetics practices of Black Pentecostalism. He is currently working on three projects: one tentatively titled "The Lonely Letters," an autobiofiction that explores the relationships between blackness, quantum mechanics, mysticism, and love; a second that considers the role of the Hammond B-3 organ in Black Christianity; and a critique of western mysticism. 







The current issue of America Magazine: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture features Professor Nichole Flores's theological reflection on race, Catholicism, and Charlottesville. Read the article here.  

Read "Religious Studies Departments Must Be Leaders in Overcoming Racism and Hate: Responding to Firsthand Reflections on Charlottesville" by Religious Studies Department Associate Chair Martien Halvorson-Taylor and Chair Kurtis Schaeffer.

Professor Jalane Schmidt responds to the president's statements on last weekend's rally in Charlottesville. Watch here

Read "At Ground Zero in Charlottesville: Time to Stop Making Compromises with Racism" by Professor Karl Shuve.

An Open Letter from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia in Response to the Events of August 11th and 12th

The Department of Religious Studies denounces the violence and terror perpetrated by the gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA on August 11th and 12th, 2017. As a faculty, we are particularly horrified that our University Grounds were used to promote this agenda and that students, who were exercising their constitutionally protected right to protest, were physically attacked a short distance from their dormitories.

The Department of Religious Studies rejects the white supremacist ideology of intolerance and its practice of hateful speech, as well as the violence it engenders. We stand in solidarity with the victims of these events and with those who courageously resisted the hate groups and their virulent messages; we stand with the community of Charlottesville and with all those at whom hate continues to be directed. We cherish the diversity of our student body and commit ourselves to supporting students who are targeted by hate groups. We promise to be available to students who seek support from us, even as we actively develop new initiatives to support them.

As a department, we advocate for no single religious faith or political point of view. Our faculty comprises scholars who practice different religions or no religion at all. Our professors, all of whom serve the Commonwealth of Virginia, hold a range of political views. Those who are American citizens vote their consciences individually in elections, for a wide array of political parties. Amid this political and national diversity, we stand united in our unanimous and unequivocal condemnation of those who promote hate, by way of violent speech and action—the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis, the neo-Fascists, the anti-Semites. And we regard this condemnation as the expression of a simple, moral truth rather than a political statement.

We must not hesitate to name and condemn the intimidation, terror, and violence that convulsed and profaned our city and university this weekend. We consider the groups who organized and participated in the “Unite the Right” rally to be hate groups. We do not take their views to represent a legitimate, alternative political perspective: they are dangerous, and they perpetuate what is universally condemned by all the world’s religions and ethical systems. We feel morally compelled to call out those who afflicted our community with their night-time mob on the University’s Grounds and with their violence on our city’s streets the following day. Burning torches, aggressive chanting, and racist, homophobic, and antisemitic slogans echo the symbolism, and messages, of Nazi-era Germany and of the Ku Klux Klan in the United States. This is not a time for equivocation. We stand firmly and explicitly against the views and actions of those espousing hate, terror, and violence in Charlottesville over this past weekend, and any other day.

Professor Charles Mathewes and doctoral student Evan Sandsmark consider the moral perils of wealth in the Washington Post.