Vincentian Chair of Social Justice 2022–23

Visions of Freedom: A Political Theology for Our Time

From the perspective of political theology, this lecture series explores competing and changing visions that have shaped our national life--visions of freedom, social life, and civic belonging, of religious and personal identity. Each lecture will be followed by discussion.

M. Shawn Copeland, Ph.D.

M. Shawn Copeland, Ph.D.

M. Shawn Copeland is Professor Emerita of Systematic Theology, the Department of Theology and the Program in African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) at Boston College. Professor Copeland is recognized as one of the most important influences in North America in drawing attention to issues surrounding African American Catholics. An award-winning writer and renowned lecturer, Dr. Copeland will join us as the Vincentian Chair of Social Justice during the 2022-2023 academic year in which she will present four topics concerned with competing and changing visions in today’s society from both political and theological lenses.

For more information on Dr. Copeland, please read her full biography.

Lecture Information

About: After an introduction to political theology and a brief overview of the series, the first lecture probes the encounters between the Indigenous peoples and Settler Colonists, between the planter class and the enslaved peoples. Critical reflection on these encounters uncovers the basic competing visions of freedom and of social life that contribute to the making of our nation.

Date: Thursday, October 13

Time: 7-8:30 p.m.

Watch Lecture 1 Recording

Date: November 21, 2022
Time: 1:50–3:30 p.m.
Location: D’Angelo Center, room 416


Dr. Copeland’s second lecture is entitled: “Competing and Changing Visions of Civic Belonging.” She will consider the questions of what it means to belong to a nation, a country? What is citizenship and what does it entail? Beginning with the Naturalization Act of 1790 that once restricted U.S. citizenship to “an alien, being a free white person, “ she will consider that Acts evolution through legal immigration acts and she will consider the emergence of the notion of ‘Americanization’ as a test and process of inclusion and exclusion, of granting advantage and disadvantage.

Watch Lecture 2 Recording

Watch Lecture 2 Q&A

Date: Thursday, February 9, 2023
Time: 1:50pm - 3:30pm
Location: D’Angelo Center, Room 416
Note: This is an in-person event; it will not be live streamed
Registration: Click here to register. 

Given the ambiguities of U.S. history and taking account of the basic religious and humanistic ‘truths’ of our common human creatureliness and integral human equality, political theology challenges all people of good will to act in responsible and collaborative solidarity to protest and confront all assaults on the bodies, persons, lives, and dignity of human others–of the neighbor.

Recommended Resources

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

*Exhibition: Hear Me Now, The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina

(Through February 5, 2023)

*Exhibition: Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast

(Through March 5, 2023)

*Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room


*New Rotation

Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection


Governors Island, New York

*Sculpture: Moving Chains, by Charles Gaines

a 110-foot long kinetic sculpture that evokes the hull of a slave ship

(Through June 2023)