Focus on faculty: Lori Brandt Hale

by Betsey Norgard

To Lori Brandt Hale, what sets Augsburg apart is the way the mission and vision of the College are real, authentic, and lived out every day. This allows students across all disciplines to engage in the big questions of meaning and purpose, of faith and responsibility.

As associate professor of religion, Hale pushes students to explore what they believe and what’s really important to them, knowing the claims they embrace determine the choices they make both now and later in their lives.

As Augsburg’s director of general education, Hale oversees the Augsburg Core Curriculum (AugCore), the required courses that connect students to the College’s mission and vision and prepare them to become responsible citizens.

“What’s exciting about a place like Augsburg,” says Hale, “is the ability to have such direct impact on student life, to foster engagement, and then to see students go out and make a difference.”

Hale stays in contact with former students. She treasures e-mails from students who speak about their current lives and work in ways that beautifully express exactly what Hale hopes they learned as they explored vocation—despite often dubbing it the “v-word.”

Hale brings an additional dimension to her teaching. As an international scholar of the work of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, her seminars on Bonhoeffer have introduced students to new understanding about the search for meaning and vocation. Cody Warren ’09 was one student who focused on Bonhoeffer’s perspectives on vocation and responsibility. His senior chapel homily about Bonhoeffer can be found in this issue.

“One of the things about Bonhoeffer that’s so attractive for me,” Hale says, “is that he speaks well beyond the boundaries of the academy; he’s somebody who speaks to everyone.” He remains a “living legacy,” and she often presents Bonhoeffer to church groups seeking context for contemporary issues.

Hale co-authored a book, to be published in October, in the Westminster John Knox Press’ Armchair Series—Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians—that introduces Bonhoeffer to lay audiences.

Hale currently is an active leader in both the English Language Section of the International Bonhoeffer Society and in the Bonhoeffer: Theology and Social Analysis Group within the American Academy of Religion.

She is helping to organize the 2009 Dietrich Bonhoeffer Lectures in Public Ethics, with the topic “Genocide: Past and Present.” On October 9, at Augsburg, lectures will be presented about genocide in Armenia and Nazi Germany, about gender-violence among Native Americans, and about ways to become active in the fight against current genocide. The lectures are free and open to the public. For information, e-mail hale@augsburg.edu.

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