Our Faculty

Laurie Johnston

Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Director of Fellowships and Scholarships

Contact Information

617 264-7723

Office Hours

Office: Administration Building, Room 465

Office hours: Monday, 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.; Thursday, 1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m.; Friday, 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.


Ph.D., Boston College; M.Div., Harvard Divinity School; B.A. with distinction, University of Virginia


Dr. Johnston's specialty is Christian social ethics, particularly questions of war and peacemaking. She also has interests in the areas of health care ethics and environmental ethics. Her work examines how Christian theologies of church and world shape engagement in politics and the public sphere. In her teaching, Dr. Johnston particularly enjoys debating controversial ethical issues with students, and giving them a chance to explore issues of social justice through service learning courses. As Director of Fellowships, she has helped many Emmanuel students win Fulbright grants and other prestigious awards. Dr. Johnston and her husband have three children, and she enjoys sculling and playing ice hockey.

What I Love About Emmanuel:

The chapel, where the stained glass windows are all images of women saints. 

Courses I Teach

  • THRS 2101 Exploring Religion
  • THRS 2111 Love and Justice: An Introduction to Christian Ethics
  • THRS 2130 Catholic Social Teaching
  • THRS 2201 War, Peace & Religion
  • THRS 2305 Religion, Gender, and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa (travel course)
  • THRS 2150 Contemplation and Action: An Introduction to Christian Spirituality in Rome and Namur (travel course)
  • THRS 3133 Social Justice and Religious Traditions

Publications + Presentations


  • Public Theology and the Global Common Good: The Contribution of David Hollenbach. Co-edited with Kristin Heyer, Meghan Clark, Kevin Ahern, and David Decosse, Orbis Press, 2016. Co-author with Tisha Rajendra of the chapter entitled "Ambivalent Solidarity." Awarded 1st Prize in its category by the Catholic Press Association.
  • "Northern Light: A Syrian Refugee Flees the US", Commonweal, June 13, 2017.
  • Can War be Just in the 21st Century?, co-edited with Tobias Winright. Orbis Press, 2015. Sole author of the chapter entitled "Just War Theory and Environmental Destruction."
  • "Pacem in Terris and Catholic Peacebuilding today" in the Journal of Catholic Social Thought 11.1 (Winter 2014): 93-104.
  • "The 'Signs of the Times' and Their Readers in Wartime and in Peace," in the Journal of Catholic Moral Theology, 2.2, June 2013.
  • "The Community of Sant'Egidio: A Lay Movement for Peace and Reconciliation." with Claudio Betti. in Robert Schreiter, Tormod Engelsviken & Knud Jørgensen, eds., Mission as Ministry of Reconciliation. Oxford: Regnum International, 2013.
  • "The Future of Bioethics: A new professor's reflections." Health Care Ethics USA, Spring 2012.
  • "The Community of Sant'Egidio" in Asian Horizons: Dharmaram Journal of Theology Vol. 4 No. 2, December 2010: 270-276.
  • "Catholics and just war theory since 9-11: The moral challenge." Matthew Morgan, ed., The Impact of 9-11 on Religion and Philosophy: The Day that Changed Everything? Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • "'To Be Holy in the World': The Influence of Yves Congar, O.P. on the spirituality and practice of the Community of Sant'Egidio." in Tim Muldoon, ed., Catholic Identity and the Laity, Annual of the College Theology Society vol. 54, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Press, 2009.
  • "Religious liberty in comparative perspective: The Catholic Church's theological odyssey and the 'Bases of the social concept of the Russian Orthodox Church." Religion in Eastern Europe, November 2006.
  • "Love your enemies': Even in an age of terroism?" in Political Theology, Vol. 6 Issue 1, (Jan 2005).
  • "Religion in Kosovo and the Balkans - Blessing or curse?" in Florian Bieber and Zidas Daskalovski, eds., Understanding the War in Kosovo. London: Frank Cass, 2003, pp. 184-195. Also presented at the conference Kosovo: Understanding the Past - Looking Ahead, at the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, April 2000.
  • "Religion and violence, Religion and peace: An experiment with theological education in the Balkans." Harvard Divinity School Bulletin, Summer 2000.


  • "‘The blows of realities and events': Yves Congar as a model for responding with justice and mercy to contemporary challenges to the Church." Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Catholic Theological Society of America, San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 9-12, 2016.
  • "Just War Theory and the Environmental Consequences of War." Presentation at the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Boston College, March 17, 2016.
  • "Environmental Destruction and Proportionality in Just War Theory." Paper presentation at the New Wine, New Wineskins Conference, University of Notre Dame, July 31-Aug. 3, 2014.
  • Respondent to William Portier on the topic "Signs of the Times, then and now" in the Receiving Vatican II interest group at the Annual Meeting of the Catholic Theological Society of America, San Diego, June 5-8, 2014.
  • "Women in Combat: What Difference Does it Make?" Panel presentation to the War and Peace Interest Group at the Society of Christian Ethics Annual Meeting, Seattle, January 2014.
  • "Peacebuilding: from Pastoral Ministry to Public Policy." Panel presentation at the conference Peacebuilding 2013: Pacem in Terris at 50, sponsored by the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., April 2013.
  • "Peace in this World? Theology and Catholic peacebuilding." Invited lecture in a series sponsored by the Villanova University Office of Mission and Ministry, April 2013.
  • "Pacem in Terris at 50: Theology and Catholic peacebuilding." Invited lecture at St. Anselm's College, New Hampshire, March 2013.
  • "Incorporating Catholic Social Teaching and Peace Studies across the Curriculum: Lessons learned from U.S. institutions." Presentation on behalf of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, as a guest expert at the meeting of the Association of Universities and Higher Institutes of Africa and Madagascar, Catholic University of Congo, Kinshasa, Congo, June 19-21, 2012.
  • "Discerning God's Action in the 'Signs of the Times': Congar on Saints' Lives as a Hermeneutical Key." Presented at the Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Meeting, San Jose, June 2011.
  • "Understanding Ethics: Who are we and how do we choose?" Invited presentation, Grand Rounds of the Franciscan Hospital for Children, May 11, 2011.
  • "War and Peacemaking as 'Signs of the Times.'" Invited presentation at the Huffington Ecumenical Symposium entitled "War and Peace: An Orthodox-Catholic Conversation," Loyola Marymount University, March 25-26, 2011.
  • "Yves Congar on the Vocation and Mission of the Laity." One of two main presentations at a half-day conference organized by the Church in the 21st Century program at Boston College, Oct. 1, 2010.
  • "The Common Good and Health Care Reform." Presented at the conference "Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church," Trento, Italy, July 24-27, 2010.
  • "Realism and 'Peacemaking' - in the same breath?" Presented (in absentia) at the conference "Christian Realism and Public Life: Catholic and Protestant Perspectives," University of St. Thomas School of Law, November 20, 2009.
  • "The Community of Sant'Egidio as a lived theology: a way forward in the impasse over church-world theology?" Presented at the Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Meeting, Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 2009.
  • "The Influence of Yves Congar on the Spirituality and Practice of the Community of Sant'Egidio." Presented at the College Theology Society Annual Meeting, Providence, R.I., June 2008, in the "Mysticism and Politics" session, on a panel with the theme "Contemporary Theologies and the Spirituality of Lay Movements."
  • Panelist on "Ecclesiology and Peacebuilding" at the Conference on the Future of Catholic Peacebuilding, University of Notre Dame, April 2008.
  • "Congar: Church, World and Christian peacemaking." Presentation to the Congar program group of the Catholic Theological Society of America, June 9, 2006.
  • "Church-World theology and Christian peacemaking: The debate over peace at Vatican II and its continuing implications." Presentation to the College Theology Society, June 3, 2005.
  • "'Love your enemies': Interpreting a challenging commandment." Presented at the conference "Religion, Rights, and Societal Reconstruction," sponsored by Columbia University's Center for the Study of Human Rights, at Bellagio, Italy, July 2002.
  • "Religious liberty in comparative perspective: The Catholic Church's theological odyssey and the 'Bases of the social concept of the Russian Orthodox Church.'" Presented at a conference on The Transfiguration of Russia at Saint Andrew's Biblical Theological College in Moscow, Russia, May 2002.
  • Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant to Belgium, to teach and conduct research at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2017-2018
  • Emmanuel College Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, 2014
  • Flatley Fellowship (2001-2006) - Endowed Ph.D. fellowship at Boston College
  • Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Boston College (2006)

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