Michael Le Chevallier

PhD Student in Religious Ethics


Why did you choose to attend the University of Chicago Divinity School?

I first came here as a Masters student knowing that the program offered the breadth that I needed to fill in gaps in my education. I've since stayed as a PhD student, because the Divinity School offers sufficient flexibility to enable me tailor my studies, even pre-exams, towards my interests and desires. My advisor, Prof. Schweiker, also encourages me in pursuit of the material that drive me to become a scholar. I've also found here a stimulating intellectual life that cuts across each of the degree programs, as students critically wrestle with the ideas and questions that drive them.

What is your area of study andwhat is the focus of your current research?

I study religious ethics. My current area of interest is the concept of moral vulnerability and its subsequent value for Environmental Ethics.

What are or have been the highlights of your academic work so far?

In the spring of my first year of my Master's degree, I took a course with professor Schweiker on Life, Will and Value in modern and contemporary philosophical and theological ethics. There, I engaged in rich conversation with students and our professor and began to develop a sense that my peers here were to be my intellectual colleagues. This experience has been repeated again and again.

Do you participate in any of the Council on Advanced Studies workshops (and if so, tell us a bit about that experience)?

Transitioning from the M. Div. Degree to the Ph.D., with another student, I started the Religion and Ethics Workshop. It has been an exciting space to see and support the continued research of my colleagues, and to have a hand in bringing new academic voices from outside of our school.

What experience (if any) have you had in teaching?

I've yet to fulfill my teaching requirements, but have undergone training to teach undergraduates through the writing program, and hope to begin teaching this fall.

What activities do you participate in outside of the classroom? (community service, work, hobbies, etc.)

In addition to running the Religion and Ethics Workshop, I've helped plan three separate student conferences here, and am now working as a conference organizer Prof. Elshtain. I've also served as president of the Divinity Students Association and have started a young adult group at the local Catholic Church where I am a parishoner. I am also active in the intentional community that I live in at the edge of Hyde Park and Woodlawn. I am a regular attendee of the various guest lectures offered by the Divnity school or the the various CAS workshops. It's not all the life of the mind however, and I often find time to run or bike the lake front, to enjoy beers at the school pub, some of the best cappuccinos I've ever had at Intelligentsia, the occasional saunter through the Art Institute and world class Operas at student prices at the Lyric.

How do you like living in Chicago?

Chicago is an incredibly livable city. Even as it lacks the hiking typical of my native Oregon, I've been able to get my nature fix by heading to the lake. Further, I've enjoyed the surreal experience of biking next to skyscrapers, and finding quiet bird reserves where you can almost imagine the city isn't there. I've loved the music life here, and manage by bike, by public transit, and with the occasional taxi to explore the city through it in every season. My first winter was tough, but I've subsequently managed after gaining an affection for coco, smart wool and peacoats.

What do you plan to do after you have completed your degree from the Divinity School?

After completing my studies here, I hope to work as a professor of moral theology at a liberal arts college.