The Engaged Mind | Just War Against Terror

Over the last four years, the Divinity School has  hosted a series of cross-disciplinary conferences reflecting on themes inspired by the work of Jean Bethke Elshtain (1941-2013). "The Engaged Mind" conference series now presents the fourth and final conference, "Just War Against Terror: International Relations, Gender and the Challenge of Ethics."


Given the protean nature of her thought, one conference each year has taken up a set of related issues drawn from her body of work. The series has brought together senior scholars and major thinkers, many of whom have been Professor Elshtain's interlocutors over the course of her thirty-five year career. From a variety of viewpoints, they examine Elshtain's contributions to the ongoing scholarly conversation and consider how the intellectual landscape has changed over time.


Registration is encouraged, but not required. Please register.

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Jean Bethke Elshtain first entered public consciousness as a "public intellectual" in the early 1970s, as she published controversial articles in scholarly journals as well as journals of civic opinion, although she had been publishing in national outlets as a graduate student in the 1960s. Her work takes up all the major concerns of social existence: birth, death, the family, education, citizenship, religion and theology, popular culture, gender, war and international relations, science and society.

The first conference in our series focused on feminism, the family, and civil society; particularly the themes set out in Public Man, Private Woman, now in its second edition and considered a classic work in modern political theory.

The second conference, "Democracy on Trial" considered how religion contributes to a vibrant civil society, and how both affect the practice of democracy. The third conference, "Theological Reflection and the Limits of Politics"touched upon themes with theological purchase that perdure into modern political thought such as sovereignty and questions of philosophical anthropology.

Each event concentrates on a particular period in Elshtain's career, drawing out the debates most central to her work at that time. All conferences are interdisciplinary in scope and designed to be of interest to a broad audience.

Conference panels will be designed to foster dialogue among the speakers about the themes, arguments, and controversies raised by Elshtain's work, particularly as it intersects with their own areas of expertise. 

Conferences are free and open to the public.

Address any questions to: Sponsored by the McDonald Agape Foundation.


Keynote Speaker: Michael Walzer, Professor emeritus of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey

Chris Brown, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics
John Carlson, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University
Debra Erickson, Visiting Professer of Religious Studies at Siena College
James Turner Johnson, Distinguished Professor of Religion and Acting Graduate Director at Rutgers University
Cecelia Lynch, Professor of Political Science School of Social Sciences at UC Irvine.
Erik Owens, Associate Director of the Boisi Center and adjunct assistant professor of theology and international studies at Boston College
Daniel Philpott, Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies at Notre Dame University.
Nicholas Rengger, Professor of Political Theory and International Relations at the University of St Andrews.
William Schweiker, The Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics and Director of the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago.
Christine Sylvester, Professor of Political science an Women's studies at the University of Connecticut.


Please note: A memorial service for Professor Elshtain will be held on Thursday, October 17th, at 4:30 in the University's Rockefeller Chapel. The reception following will be in Swift Hall's 3rd-floor Lecture Hall. All are welcome.