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Annual Convention 2020

Online Convention
(CTS Website)

Thursday May 28-Saturday May 30

The College Theology Society holds its Sixty-Sixth Annual Convention Online from Thursday evening, May 28 through Saturday May 30, 2020

“Human Families:
Identities, Relationships, and Responsibilities"

Stephanie Coontz (Evergreen State University, WA)

Darlene Fozard Weaver (Duquesne University, PA)

Victor Carmona (University of San Diego, CA)

Plenary Speakers

Jacob Kohlhaas (Loras College, IA)
Mary Doyle Roche (College of the Holy Cross, MA)
Convention Chairs/Volume Editors

Online Schedule

Humans are social creatures and families provide a basic training ground for both individual identity formation and social behavior. Not necessarily restricted to tight social groups of close biological kin, human families, broadly considered, may encompass all the vital relationships that support human personal and social development. These vital relationships are constitutive of healthy human persons as it is in and through them that individuals come to know themselves as well as their responsibilities to and for others. Whether considering human persons in terms of dignity and solidarity, needs and capabilities, or as created and redeemed, anthropological frameworks play a vital role across theological fields. As such, this theme invites scholars from across fields to turn attention the depth, breadth, and diversity of human families in all their various forms and possible interpretations.

Recent years have witnessed numerous consequential social, religious, and political events related to conceptions of family. Within the Catholic Church, major recent events include two synods on the family (2014 and 2015), one on youth (2018), papal visits to the U.S. (2015) and Ireland (2018) during the World Meeting of Families, and the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, (2016). In the US, Catholic leaders waged a significant and ongoing social battle over religious liberty which has revolved around issues including contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage. Beyond the Catholic Church, the humanitarian crisis of child immigrants and family separations arose within the U.S. as a significant moral and political issue within the context of an ongoing global refugee crisis. Despite words and gestures from religious leaders, the plight of displaced families has increasingly rested on the political will of nations at a time when nationalist and nativist political ideologies have been resurgent; clearly linking justice for migrants to racial justice. Finally, the sex abuse crisis resurfaced with a vengeance, not only revealing the extent of harm caused to individuals and families, but also impacting relationships, communal identity, and structures of authority while raising questions of responsibility and complicity.

All of these events garner media attention and bear directly on the present plight of human families as well as the human family itself.  They also prompt deeper reflection on persistent social conditions and structural issues confronting families including (but not limited to) poverty and economic insecurity, racism and other forms of discrimination in a pluralistic society, sexism, gender discrimination, the marginalization of LGBTQ+ persons, domestic violence, political violence and war, and ecological devastation.

While interest in relational anthropologies have gained strength in recent years, family studies has remained relatively isolated and truncated. If the human person is indeed essentially relational, then a broader consideration of the relational contexts humans inhabit is called for. These contexts, or networks of relationality, include families of birth or origin, founded in marriages or otherwise found and chosen, extended and intergenerational families, the human family, and the biotic family.

Avenues of exploration prompted by the theme are many: How do intimate relationships shape the human person socially, psychologically, physically, morally, or religiously? How do fractured relationships both near and far challenge understandings of the self and commitments to others? What might philosophy, politics, culture, history, or the study of other religions contribute to our understandings of human families? What demands of justice and morality are placed on human families, and how are these shaped by religious practice and education? How do religions identify, name, claim, or sacramentalize human families? What social and religious conditions and structures serve to uphold or undermine the dignity of families? These are only a few ways in which we might begin to address the scholarly opportunities presented by this theme.

Plenary Speakers

Stephanie Coontz, Evergreen State University

    In this address we’ve invited Dr. Coontz to incorporate more recent research on the impacts of economic inequality and insecurity on family and community life.

Darlene Fozard Weaver, Duquesne University

    LaReine Marie Mosely, SND, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Responding

    We have invited Dr. Weaver to present on the current state and future trajectories of theo-ethical family studies. We have invited Dr. Mosely to offer a response with attention to the unique concerns and experiences of families of color.

Victor Carmona, University of San Diego

    We’ve asked Dr. Carmona to provide perspective on particular challenges facing migrant families within the ongoing global crisis.


The section-specific Call for Papers are available here.  Proposals should be 250-500 words in length and include one’s current institutional affiliation and position.  Proposals should be submitted to the appropriate conveners in mid-December.  Scholars will be notified of the status of their proposals by mid-January.

Scholars who are invited to present their work at a national convention of the College Theology Society must be current members of the CTS in order to appear in the program.  No person may submit more than one proposal for consideration nor will submissions to multiple sections be considered.  Failure to observe these policies may result in the scholar's disqualification to present a paper at the Annual Convention.

The first draft of the Convention Program will be available on or about April 15, 2020, and online registration will also open at that time.

The National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion will once again be joining us this year.

Further questions about our 2020 Annual Convention at Spring Hill College can be directed to Andy Getz, Executive Director of National Conventions, at

The College Theology Society is a registered, non-profit professional society and a Related Scholarly Organization of the American Academy of Religion.


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