Cooper Wins Faculty Scholarly Accomplishment Award

The 2022 award was presented at the annual Honors Day Convocation on Saturday, May 7.
Posted on May 11th, 2022 by

Dr. Thia Cooper

Gustavus Adolphus College professor of religion Thia Cooper was named the 2022 recipient of the College’s Faculty Scholarly Accomplishment Award at the annual Honors Day Convocation on Saturday, May 7.

Cooper teaches courses that focus on religion, culture, and society. She is an expert on liberation theologies, feminist theologies, queer theologies, theology and development, non-Western Christianities, and religion in Latin America with an emphasis on Brazil. A member of the Gustavus faculty since 2005, she is the author of Queer and Indecent: An Introduction to the Theology of Marcella Althaus-Reid (2021, SCM Press), A Theology of International Development (2020, Routledge),  A Christian Guide to Liberating Desire, Sex, Partnership, Work and Reproduction (2018, Palgrave), and Controversies in Political Theology (2007, SCM Press).

“I’m elated to be recognized by Gustavus for my research, which comes from my passion for faith and justice. I’m grateful to work in a space that is supportive of my focus on people who are excluded, and to the communities that have welcomed me and shared their understandings of God as working alongside them in the struggle,” Cooper said. “To be honored for scholarship that aims toward a more just world is energizing and inspiring.”

Cooper, whose interdisciplinary work at Gustavus also includes teaching in the College’s peace, justice, and conflict studies; gender, women, and sexuality studies; and Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean studies (LALACS) programs, was introduced at Honors Convocation by the 2021 awardee, history professor Maddalena Marinari.

“[Thia’s] research speaks volumes about [her] commitment to bringing together fields of inquiry that are often regarded as separate, but also to be a change agent,” Marinari said. “Her work speaks to religion and development researchers, practitioners, and students. One of her most recent publications has been defined as a ‘must read’ for anyone seeking tools to develop a liberation theology for today.”

“Thia has ventured into areas of study where few believed religion even existed; thus, her scholarship has more fully unveiled the true magnitude and variety of religious experiences in contemporary society,” read one nomination letter. “Her research has been very bold. She enters prisons. She drives a forklift. She teaches us of the experiences of people of faith in global environments and what we need to learn from one another, in order to prosper together in a rapidly changing world.”

Cooper holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University, a master of science from SOAS University of London, and a master of theology and doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. In addition to her research, scholarly work, and primary teaching duties in the religion department, she has taught in the College’s First-Term Seminar Program and advised senior theses in both religion and LALACS.

First awarded in 1986, the Faculty Scholarly Accomplishment Award was reestablished in 2004 and is now announced during the Honors Day Convocation each spring. Award recipients are nominated for this honor by fellow faculty members based on professional accomplishments regarding research activities in private, public, or corporate settings; publication; presentations at scholarly meetings or conferences; and exhibits or performances. This award is the highest accolade a Gustavus faculty member can receive for distinguished scholarly achievements.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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