REA2021 Plenary Speakers

Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock

6 July, 9:30am ET

Dr. Brock is a leading international expert on moral injury in combat veterans, and Senior Vice President and Director of the Shay Moral Injury Center at Volunteers of America. A noted religion scholar and the first Asian American woman earning a Ph.D. in Theology/Religion, Dr. Brock was the Founding Director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, where she also was a Research Professor of Theology and Culture. She has offered trainings for mental health providers, for professional chaplains, and for veterans and their families on moral injury and healing from trauma.

For 18 years, Dr. Brock was a Professor of Religion, Philosophy of Religion, and Women’s Studies, and held the Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, from 1990-1997. In 1997, she became the Director of the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College (now the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University), a research fellowship program for distinguished scientists, scholars, humanitarians, and artists. Her publications include: Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War (Beacon 2012); Saving Paradise: Recovering Christianity’s Forgotten Love for This Earth (Canterbury Press UK 2012); Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire (Beacon 2008. The best religion book of 2008 by Publisher’s Weekly): Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering and the Search for What Saves Us (Beacon 2001); Casting Stones: Prostitution and Liberation in Asia and the United States (Fortress 1996); Journeys By Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power (Crossroad 1988).

Dr. Mark D. Jordan

8 July, 9:30am ET

Dr. Jordan is internationally known as a scholar of Christian theology, European philosophy, and gender studies. He is the Richard Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School. Over the last three decades, Dr. Jordan has written extensively on sexual ethics, producing books that are widely regarded as opening important new conversations. He has also continued to explore longstanding topics at the boundaries of philosophy and Christian theology. His latest book, Transforming Fire: Imagining Christian Teaching (Eerdmans 2021; a part of Theological Education between the Times series) tells a brief history of the imagined scenes of theological education. With support from the Ford Foundation, Dr. Jordan led a seminar on public debates about religion and sexuality for rising scholars from the United States and abroad. In 2019, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His publications include The Ethics of Sex (Blackwell 2001); Telling Truths in Church: Scandal, Flesh, and Christian Speech (Beacon 2002); Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk about Homosexuality (U. of Chicago 2011) (which was the Randy Shilts Award winning book in nonfiction); Convulsing Bodies: Religion and Resistance in Foucault (Stanford 2011); Teaching Bodies: Moral Formation in the Summa of Thomas Aquinas (Fordham 2016).

Dr. Mark A. Hicks

9 July, 6:00pm ET

Dr. Hicks is a long-time REA member, and the Angus MacLean Professor of Religious Education at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Drawing on his experience as a classroom educator, musician, university administrator and advocate for social change, Dr. Hicks has designed a nationally-recognized professional development degree that transforms the teaching and learning lives of public school teachers and children (Initiatives in Educational Transformation, George Mason University). He has been a leading and challenging voice in religious education, to expand our conception of faith development to include the developmental needs of people targeted for social oppression. He brings insights from human and faith development, experiential learning, critical pedagogy and theories of transformative learning to his research and teaching that both nest students in philosophy and theory while modeling how to create similar experiences in religious and secular settings. As a curriculum developer, Dr. Hicks’ work creates “aesthetic spaces” wherein participants can break through what John Dewey called “the crust of conventionalism” in order to find new ways of thinking and being. These ideas can be experienced in some of the curricula he designed such as “Building the World We Dream About,” “Beloved Conversations: Meditations on Race and Ethnicity,” and “Our Place in the Web of Life.” Dr. Hicks also collaborated with PBS to develop the curriculum companion to the PBS documentary, Defying the Nazis: The Sharp’s War. The interfaith curriculum, We Who Defy Hate, is being used by congregations, college faith groups, and community organizations seeking to find common ground on social issues.

Dr. Yohana Junker

9 July, 6:00pm ET

Dr. Junker is an educator and visual artist, and Assistant Professor of Art, Religion, and Culture at Claremont School of Theology. Dr. Junker’s research probes the intersections among the fields of art history, eco-criticism, and decolonial studies, with special attention to contemporary Indigenous and diasporic art practices. In her writing, art, and activism, she explores the human capacity to imagine and retrieve generative ways of being even in the face of impossibility. She also investigates the ways artists create poetic spaces that allow viewers to come together, to reclaim agency and restore a sense of purpose, a thirst for justice, and a desire for transformation. Her artwork is central to her scholarship and activism. Dr. Junker has contributed chapters for the forthcoming volumes Georgetown Companion in Interreligious Studies (Georgetown), Sustainable Societies: Interreligious & Interdisciplinary Responses (Springer), and Painted Portrayals: The Art of Characterizing Biblical Figures (SBL Press). She is also co-editing, with Dr. Aaron Rosen, Modern and Contemporary Artists on Religion: A Global Sourcebook (Bloomsbury). She serves on the boards of Art, Religion, and Culture (ARC), the Center for the Arts and Religion, La Comunidad, and Feminist Studies in Religion Blog. You can find some of her visual art work and art-based critical reflections on contemporary issues at her website.

Dr. Su Yon Pak

9 July, 6:00pm ET

Dr. Su Yon Pak is the Senior Director and Associate Professor of Integrative and Field-based Education at Union Theological Seminary. In this hybrid faculty-administrator position, she envisions, creates and oversees the curricular and co-curricular work field education, chaplaincy concentration, clinical pastoral education, life-long learning, ministerial formation, and combined courses inside Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Prior to her current position, she was the Vice President for Institutional Advancement; and the Associate Dean for Student Life/ Director of Recruitment at Union. She is also a spiritual director grounded in contemplative traditions.

Her life and research passion include: contemplative practices, chaplaincy education, the elderly and spirituality, women’s leadership, and integrative, embodied, and critical pedagogies. Dr. Pak’s publications include: Sisters in Mourning: Daughters Reflecting on Care, Loss, and Meaning with Rabbi Mychal Springer, (Cascade Press, 2021); “Queer Intimacies and Poetry of Friendship” with Alicia R. Forde in Inheritance Magazine, June, 2021; “Is Any-Body There?” in Religious Education, 2021; “Cultivating Moral Imagination in Theological Field Education” in Asian and Asian American Women in Theology and Religion: Embodying Knowledge (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020); edited Leading Wisdom: Asian, North American Asian Women Leaders, (Westminster John Knox Press, 2017); “Coming Home/Coming Out: Reflections of a Queer Family and the Challenge of Eldercare in The Diaspora” in The Journal of Theology and Sexuality, 2011; and Singing the Lord’s Song in a New Land: Korean American Practices of Faith, (Westminster John Knox, 2005).

Dr. Pak is the recipient of numerous fellowships, grants and awards including the Pastoral Care Leadership Award from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Louisville Institute Project Grant for Researchers, Cross Currents’ Coolidge Fellowship, Lilly Theological Research Grant, Valparaiso Project Grant on Faith Practices and Robert Wood Lynn Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Pak is on the board of Pacific Asian North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry (PANAAWTM) and on the board of United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. She is a Steering Committee member of AANATE (Association for Asian North American Theological Educators). She is an advisory board member of the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab and serves on the board of the Brooklyn Zen Center. Dr. Pak served as the chair of Professional Conduct Task Force and the chair the Status of Women in the Profession Committee of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). She has served as the co-chair of the Asian North American Religion, Culture and Society program unit and as a steering committee member of the Women and Religion Section of the AAR.