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Laura Hawthorne

PhD 2015. Interim Assistant Dean and Lecturer for the College of Arts and Sciences, UVA


  • University of Virginia, Ph.D. (2015)
  • University of Chicago, M.Div. (2008)
  • University of Chicago, B.A. (2003)


Responsibility to Protect: Just War Thinking in an Age of Human Rights

Research Interests

  • Religious ethics
  • Comparative ethics
  • Christian ethics and theology
  • Islamic ethics
  • War and peace studies, just war
  • Human rights
  • Feminist and liberation ethics and theology
  • Refugee studies
  • Ethics of migration


  • Religions and Human Rights (instructor)
  • Business, Ethics, and Society (instructor)
  • Religious Ethics and Moral Problems (teaching assistant)
  • Theology, Ethics, and Medicine (teaching assistant)
  • Elements of Christian Thought (teaching assistant)

My teaching interests and competencies include comparative religious ethics; introduction to Christian thought; introduction to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim ethical thinking; practical ethics; war and peace studies; human rights; religious ethics of migration; and theories and methods in religious studies and the study of ethics.

Fellowships, Grants, and Awards

  • 2014-15 Dissertation Fellow, The Louisville Institute
  • 2014-15 Junior Fellow, University of Virginia Society of Fellows
  • 2014 University of Virginia Nominee, Dolores Z. Liebmann Dissertation Fellowship Award
  • 2013-14 Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture Dissertation Fellowship Award (declined)
  • 2013 Finalist, University of Virginia Three Minute Thesis competition
  • 2012 University of Virginia Center for International Studies Grant for “Religion and International Law”
  • 2012 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Educational Grant
  • 2011 Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion Grant for “Confessional Commitments in Pluralistic Publics”
  • 2011-present Associate Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture
  • 2011-present Associate Fellow, Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life



  • “Crossing the Borders of Scholarly Collaboration: Religious Ethical Thinking about Migration” (article under review)
  • “Learner-Centered Course Design and Pluralistic Engagement in Ethics Courses,” Teaching Interreligious Encounters (Oxford University Press; American Academy of Religion Teaching Religious Studies Series) (chapter accepted; book proposal under review)
  • “Lutheran Thought, Civil Disobedience, and the New Sanctuary Movement,” Strangers in this World: Multi-Religious Reflections on Immigration, ed. Hussam S. Timani, Allen G. Jorgenson, and Alexander Y. Hwang (Fortress Press, forthcoming 2015).


  • Review of Contemporary Issues of Migration and Theology, ed. Elaine Padilla and Peter C. Phan, in The Evangelical Review of Theology and Politics v. 2, 2014.

Selected Presentations

  • “The Law of Nations and the Least of These: Contemporary Political Authority and the Responsibility to Protect,” The Society of Christian Ethics Annual Meeting, January 2015 (forthcoming)
  • Student Lounge Roundtable Presenter, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, November 2014 (forthcoming)
  • “Mapping the Terrain of Religious and Ethical Thinking about Migration,” Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (Southeast Regional American Academy of Religion) Annual Meeting, March 2014
  • “Political Authority in the Work of Luther and Calvin: Reflecting Theologically on the Role of International Political Bodies in Authorizing Intervention across National Borders,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, November 2012
  • “Religious Challenges to Human Rights: Bringing Muslims and Christians into Conversation,” co-presented with R. Brian Siebeking, Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions Symposium on Humanitarianism and Human Rights in the 21st Century, October 2012
  • “Christian Cosmopolitanism and the Common Good: Possibilities for a Christian Public Discourse about Undocumented Immigrants in the United States,” Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (Southeast Regional American Academy of Religion) Annual Meeting, March 2012
  • “Refugees and Human Trafficking: Christian Cosmopolitanism and Porous Borders,” University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology International Conference on Religion, Human Trafficking, and Modern Slavery, April 2011

Selected Academic Service and Professional Development

  • 2013-present Co-chair, “Interreligious Reflections on Immigration” seminar, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting 2012-13
  • Participant, Mellon Graduate Teaching Seminar, “Writing Human Rights (and Wrongs), Within and Across Disciplines” 2012 Co-organizer (with Charles Mathewes and Philip Lorish), visiting scholar seminar, “Religion and International Law: The New Ethics of Armed Conflict” 2010-12
  • Participant, “Tomorrow’s Professor Today” academic professional development program through the University of Virginia Teaching Resource Center 2010-11
  • Co-Organizer (with Matthew Puffer and Mark Storslee), “Confessional Commitments in Pluralistic Publics,” first annual Virginia Graduate Colloquium on Theology, Ethics, and Culture