Connie Lasher

  • Why I Love Teaching at Molloy College

    Molloy College is an educational community that is committed to each student's journey of self-discovery, toward becoming persons of wholeness and professionals of integrity. It's a place of wonderful hospitality, where the Dominican values of community, service, and the search for truth are shaped by a spiritual heritage that upholds the inviolable dignity of each person. It is an educational community bound by the challenges of social justice and the common good; this means that we all bear responsibility for contributing to the flourishing of our local communities, even as we learn and experience together what it means to become 'global citizens'.

  • Academic Interests

    At the heart of my work as a scholar and educator lies a lifelong dedication to education's role in the recovery of what Rachel Carson famously termed "the sense of wonder"-a wholesome awareness of nature's beauty and mystery as integral to human wholeness. In an era of increasing cultural polarization, my interdisciplinary theological studies are intended as a contribution to contemporary efforts to recover and renew the humanistic heritage of the world's religious traditions in their convergent devotion to reverence for life.  Thus, my research has expanded from an original focus on Christian humanism and the human relation to nature (ecological identity) to consideration of comparative theological aspects of this which have long been a subject of personal and intellectual engagement for me. Since 2010, I have been engaged in comparative studies and interreligious dialogue in Japan, exploring Buddhist and Christian models of humanistic education in relation to ecological identity.

  • What I am working on

    I'm currently reshaping the manuscript of a book that broadens my dissertation's original focus to a comparative theological reflection, with the working title of Religious Humanism and Ecological Identity:  On the Developmental Significance of the Human Relation to Nature (under contract, Herder & Herder/Crossroad Publishing Company).  Near and dear to my heart is a collection of poetry I am finishing ('Decision to Sing':  Poems-In the Aftermath), inspired by my first (2011) visit to Tohoku (specifically, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan), dedicated to my Buddhist hosts and the communities recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011-and dedicated to all who face "an aftermath." In 2017-18 I am initiating a new collaborative project in the environmental humanities in Japan, which focuses specifically on children & families, nature & culture, with particular attention to the recovering communities of Tohoku, and with special concern for the experience of the communities of Fukushima Prefecture. 

  • Educational Philosophy

    Put simply, I love to teach, and I am happiest in the undergraduate classroom, teaching general education "requirements"-precisely because I began my teaching career in humanistic (experiential) education, and this is where humanistic education "happens" in a preeminent way within the college/university curriculum, its transformative potential first encountered by students.  I am committed to helping students discover, then in their own way (to recall Rilke) begin "to live," the "questions" which constitute the human search for meaning.  Taking as its central theme "the sense of wonder" and its corollary of human wholeness, my scholarship explicitly attends to the question of educational formation, the integral development of the person, pedagogy, curriculum integration, as these manifest the mission and vision of a religiously-sponsored institution's distinctive heritage. In the case of Catholic higher education, especially as refracted through the particular charisms of sponsoring religious orders like the Dominicans, Catholicism's self-understanding as "a kind of universal humanism" must continually be discerned and renewed to meet the needs of the contemporary global situation. My scholarship as a theologian who explores dimensions of the human relation to nature reflects my commitment to precisely that discernment. My life's work as an educator has always centered on the question of what it means to be a community of learning formed in a contemplative, integrative worldview, committed to transformative, humanistic education, and oriented toward active engagement and service in the context of interreligious, intercultural encounter.

  • Educational Background

    Ph.D.  Systematic Theology, Boston College
    [Dissertation Subject Area:  Christian Humanism, Theological Aesthetics and Ecological
    Identity: The Contemplative Glance of Faith: Hans Urs von Balthasar's Contribution to a Catholic Theology of Ecological Identity

    M.A. Theology, Andover Newton Theological School  
    M.S. Environmental Studies, Antioch University New England
    [Environmental Communications:  Environmental Arts & Humanities Emphasis]

    B.S. College of Health & Human Development, Pennsylvania State University 
    [Experiential Education/ Environmental Education Emphasis]

  • Additional Information

    Additional (Selected) Professional Activities, Awards, Items of Interest...

    • Founding Member, Instituto Laudato Si' para la Custodia de la Creación, Granada, Spain (May 2016-present)
    • Lands Care Fellow & Advisory Board, LandsCare [International SL Affiliate of Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain] (July 2016-present) www.landscare.org
    • Visiting Research Scholar, Department of Environmental Studies, Antioch University New England (2012-present)
    • Guest Professor, Bilingual Program, Facultad de Humanidades y CC. de las  Comunicación.  Visiting Scholar, Instituto de  Humanidades  Ángel  Ayala, CEU Universidad San Pablo, Madrid, Spain;  Profesor Asociado al Claustro (Área: Módulo IE-Ética/Humanidades), IE University, Madrid & Segovia Campuses, Spain  (2013).
    • American Academy of Religion Individual Research Grant Award (2010-2011): "'Ignatian Humanism' & Ecological Identity: Extending the Legacy of Jesuit Higher Education." Visiting Scholar, Fall Semester 2011, The Institute of Oriental Philosophy, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo; Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture, Nagoya, Japan
    • Bannan Fellow, Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, Santa Clara University Guest Professor, Department of Religious Studies (2010-2011).
    • U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs Theologian, Catholic Delegation: Roman Catholic-United Methodist Church Dialogue Round 7 Ecumenical Dialogue on Environmental Stewardship (2008-2012).
    • Founder & Executive Director, The John Paul II Institute for Theology & Environmental Studies (2007-2010).
    • Tenured Associate Professor, Saint Joseph's College of Maine Department of Theology; Founding Director, the John Paul II Center for Theology & Environmental Studies at Saint Joseph's College of  Maine (2000-2007).
    • Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award:  Boston College, Department of Theology (1999-2000).
    • Faculty Teaching & Scholarship Award, Saint Joseph's College of Maine, Department of Theology:  2002-2003, 2003-2004, 2006-2007.
    • Former Course Director/Senior Instructor, The Hurricane Island Outward Bound School:  Maine Sea Program, Maine Wilderness Programs, College Semester Program, Florida Keys Sea Program.
    • Professional Societies:  American Academy of Religion; Catholic Theological Society of America; International Bonhoeffer Society; John Dewey Society; Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies.
  • Publications/Presentations

    (Recent/selected)

    "'Nature as a School of Wonder," co-authored with Maria Ángeles Martín Rodríguez-Ovelleiro, Ph.D., Invited Book Review:  Humanum: Issues in Family, Culture & Science (2016 Theme: "Ecology"), Issue 4  ("Human Ecology: Body & Home") Publication date February 16, 2017.

    "The Religious Humanism of Rachel Carson:  On the 50th Anniversary of the Publication of Silent Spring," The Journal of Oriental Studies 22  (August 2012):  193-205.

    JAPANESE TRANSLATION:「レイチェル・カーソンの宗教的ヒューマニズム:『沈黙の春』 出版五十周年を記念して」『東洋学術研究』 第51巻第2号 (2012): 144-164. [Toyo Gakujutsu Kenkyu 51, no.2 (November 2012):  144-164.]

    "'Heaven and Earth are Full of Your Glory':  A United Methodist & Roman Catholic Joint Statement on the Eucharist & Ecology," United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue, Roman Catholic-US Methodist Church Dialogue Round 7; Origins 41, no. 47 (3 May 2012):  761-769.

    「信仰の輝き」["The Radiance of the Practice"].  (Featured in the series「震災からの歩み」  "In the Footsteps of the Earthquake"),   『第三文明』 5月第629号 (2012): 82-85. [Daisanbunmei 5, no. 629 (May 2012):  82-85. ]

    "'The Flowering of Ordinary Possibilities':  Humanistic Education & Sustainability Today," featured in the issue, "Sustainability: Learning for Empowerment," SGI Quarterly: A Buddhist Forum for Peace, Culture & Education (April 2012): 20-23.

    "'With Generous Courage': Promise & Poignance in the Legacies of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI," co-authored with Msgr. Charles Murphy, in Confronting the Climate Crisis:  Catholic Theological Perspectives, ed. Jame Schaefer (Milwaukee:  Marquette University Press, 2011), 365-88.

    "Dialogue with Nature and Interreligious Encounter:  Toward a Comparative Theology of the Sense of Wonder,"  The Journal of Oriental Studies 21  (August 2011):  189-209.

    JAPANESE TRANSLATION:「自然との対話そして宗教間の出会い-センス・オブ・ワンダー の比較神学に向けて」『東洋学術研究』 第50巻第2号 (2011): 169-198. [Toyo Gakujutsu Kenkyu 50, no.2 (November 2011):  169-198.]
     
    "Environmental Arts in a Theological Context," Editor's Choice Selection,  Academic Exchange Quarterly 10, no.3 (Fall 2006): 44-48.

    The Contemplative Glance of Faith: Hans Urs von Balthasar's Contribution to a Catholic Theology of Ecological Identity (Ann Arbor, Michigan:  UMI Dissertation Publications, 2004).

    Publications (in progress)

    Religious Humanism and Ecological Identity: On the Developmental Significance of the Human Relation to Nature (under contract, Herder & Herder/Crossroad Publishing Company).

    'Decision to Sing': Poems-In the Aftermath

    Recent/Selected Invited Academic Lectures, Consultations, Conference Presentations...

    "Integral Ecology and the Integral Development of the Human Person:  A 'Theological Investigation' of Pre-Conciliar 'Renewals' in Thomas' Metaphysics," Invited Paper at the Annual Convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America (Albuquerque, NM June 8-11, 2017); Session 8-Thomas Aquinas Consultation, June 9, 2017.

    "Ecological Identity & Religious Humanism," Faculty & Graduate Student Summer Symposium Lecture, Department of Environmental Studies, Antioch University New England, Keene, New Hampshire (June 25, 2013).

    "El Sentido del Asombro," Seminario Cuidar y Conservar la Creación,  Invited joint presentation with Dr. María Angeles Martín Rodríguez-Ovelliero (Profesora de la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos); CEU Universidad San Pablo & Instituto de  Humanidades  Ángel  Ayala,  Madrid, Spain (April 22, 2013).

    "Humanismo Cristiano y Estudios Ambientales," Seminario Cuidar y Conservar la Creación, CEU Universidad San Pablo & Instituto de Humanidades Ángel Ayala, Madrid, Spain (April 15, 2013).

    Visiting Scholar, invited faculty dialogues and consultations:   Interreligious (Buddhist-Christian) perspectives on religious humanism, ecological identity, and humanistic education.  The Institute of Oriental Philosophy and Soka University, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo, Japan (Fall Semester 2011).

    "Ignatian Humanism & Ecological Identity:  Reflections on Sustainability, Theological Integrity, and the Signs of the Times," Annual Bannan Fellow Lecture, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California (May 4, 2011). 

    "Ecological Identity, Environmental Studies, and the Jesuit University," Environmental Studies Institute Seminar, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California (March 4, 2011).

    "Sustaining Wonder: Ecological Identity and the Theological Foundations of Sustainability," International Sustainability Conference, Villanova University, Villanova, PA (April 23-26, 2009). "Environmentalism and the 'New Evangelization':  Metaphysics, Humanism, and the

    Re-Enchantment of the Cosmos," University of Nottingham Centre of Theology & Philosophy Annual Rome Conference, "The Grandeur of Reason: Religion, Tradition & Universalism," Rome, Italy (September 1-4, 2008). http://theologyphilosophycentre.co.uk/Rome2008/
    http://theologyphilosophycentre.co.uk/Rome2008/programme/Rome2008Programme5-14.pdf
        
    "Theological Anthropology and Ecological Identity: The Dialogical Contribution of Hans Urs von Balthasar," The Annual Convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America (Acting Convener, Theology & Ecology Group), San Antonio, Texas (June 2006).

    Featured Lecture, "Find the River," Culture & the Environment Inspired Speaker Series, Unity College Center for the Performing Arts, Unity, Maine (February 7, 2007).

    "'Fellowship in Destiny':  Christological Aesthetics and the Dialectics of Otherness," Bonhoeffer Section: Theology and Social Analysis, Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, (November 2001).