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Stead Center Names New Director

By Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

August 10, 2022


By Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary


The following announcement was released from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in April 2022.

Dr. Kate Ott has been named the next holder of the Jerre L. and Mary Joy Stead Professor of Christian Social Ethics and director of the Stead Center for Ethics and Values, beginning July 1, 2022. Ott will be the second to hold this endowed chair following the upcoming retirement of the Reverend Dr. Brent Waters in June 2022.

“Professor Ott is a highly respected scholar, teacher, and author and we are so fortunate to be able to welcome her to Garrett-Evangelical,” said President Javier A. Viera. “A nationally recognized expert in a number of ethical discourses, she is the unique scholar who is able to write and communicate successfully for multiple audiences—the academy, the church, and the general public as well.  She will build on the already solid foundation of the Stead Center and expand its audiences and its reach, which will honor the hopes and intentions of Mary Joy and Jerre Stead.”

A feminist and Christian ethicist, Ott is an expert on the formation of moral communities with specializations in technology, children and youth, sexuality, pedagogy, and professional ethics. She lectures and leads workshops across North America on technology and sexuality issues that are related to faith formation for young adults, teens and parents, and religious educators and professionals.

“From our very first conversation with Dr. Ott, we were struck by her vision for the Stead Center for Ethics and Values and the ways she creatively reimagined connections between technology, children’s advocacy, and the Christian life,” said Dr. Brian Bantum, chairperson for the faculty search committee and Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher professor of theology. “She is a leading scholar whose work and collaboration moves easily between the academy and the public spaces, and who writes and teaches to the complexities of race, gender, and sexuality in the world. We are excited for the ways her presence will build on Garrett-Evangelical’s strengths and bring new energy and insights to our collective work.”

Ott’s teaching areas include Christian ethics (history and method); medical and healthcare ethics; children, youth, and young adults; sexuality; digital ethics; and feminist and queer ethics/theology. She uses feminist pedagogies as well as integrating advanced digital technologies. Ott currently serves as professor of Christian social ethics at Drew Theological Seminary and is the co-editor of the Journal of Feminism in Religion.

Prior to joining Drew, she was the Deputy Director of the Religious Institute, a non-profit committed to sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. There she led the project and publication of Sex and the Seminary: Preparing Ministers for Sexual Health and Justice. She has also taught as a lecturer at Yale University Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary and served as a youth minister and religious education director for five years.

“I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, and students of Garrett-Evangelical, community partners, and churches to engage in the work of cultivating ethical resources desperately needed in response to critical issues of our time,” Ott said. “I am excited and honored to be chosen to direct the Stead Center for Ethics and Values, to further its foundational work on technology and bioethics while expanding teaching and research materials on a broader range of topics with a commitment to inclusion of diverse voices. As a learner-teacher and scholar-activist, I hope to contribute inside and outside the classroom while being enriched and challenged by the Garrett-Evangelical community.”

Ott is the author of Christian Ethics for a Digital Society (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) and Sex + Faith: Talking to Your Child from Birth to Adolescence (Westminster John Knox Press, 2013). Ott also served as co-editor of Teaching Sexuality and Religion in Higher Education (Routledge, 2020), Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship: The Next Generation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), and Just Hospitality: God’s Welcome in a World of Difference (Westminster John Knox Press, 2009). Her newest book, Sex, Tech, and Faith: Christian Ethics for a Digital Age is forthcoming from Eerdmans Press in August 2022.

Ott is a member of the American Academy of Religion, Society of Christian Ethics, Catholics for Choice, and Feminist Studies in Religion, Inc. She is also a member of the Guilford Land Conservation Trust, a non-profit, all-volunteer organization devoted to conserving open space and natural resources in Guilford, Connecticut, for the public benefit. Ott is also the Christian education board chair and Sunday school teacher at First Congregational Church in Guilford, Connecticut.

Ott earned her bachelor of arts from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, her master of arts in religion at Yale University Divinity School, and doctor of philosophy from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.