Wartburg Theological Seminary is excited to announce that our Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible, Beth Elness-Hanson, has been awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie post-doctoral fellowship funded by the European Union. The ecotheology-focused grant is entitled “Ontological Bridge-building for Climate Change Mitigation in Maasailand.” This multidisciplinary project builds bridges across clashing climate change understandings in Tanzania. The collaboration with trusted local leaders leverages existing educational and social systems within the Lutheran church in Tanzania for creation care.

Elness-Hanson states, “As the local church made a difference in the health of the people regarding HIV/AIDS, the local church can make a difference in the health of the environment. This is one aspect of the gospel, as we holistically proclaim the abundant life that we have through faith in Christ.”

The project will develop pedagogical resources for educating and equipping with the best practices of creation care that are strategically designed for the Maasai people group. These include culturally sensitive bible studies. Research institutions for the project include VID Specialized University (formerly the School of Mission and Theology), in Norway, and Tumaini University-Makumira, home of Makumira Seminary, in Tanzania. This holistic project integrates Elness-Hanson’s previous work teaching as an ELCA missionary and her Ph.D. research on intercultural biblical interpretation with the Maasai people group. Even her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Minnesota supports this holistic project that weaves together indigenous knowledge and climate science which are held together in an ecotheological framework.

Due to the special circumstances for accommodating this prestigious grant, Elness-Hanson will move to Dubuque, Iowa in the summer of 2022 and teach full time for Wartburg Seminary during the academic year 2022-2023. Beginning in the summer of 2023, she will be on an unpaid extended leave of absence through the three-year post-doctoral research project. She will maintain connections with Wartburg Seminary through guest Zoom lectures, welcoming a planned Tanzanian January-Term course, connecting with Wartburg alumni in Tanzania, visits to campus while in the USA, and writing reflections about her journey for Wartburg’s Life Together magazine. Wartburg also looks forward to the long-term benefits from international research, creation care, and global Lutheran partnerships.

Please join Wartburg Seminary in congratulating Dr. Elness-Hanson on this prestigious award, and continue to hold her in prayer as she prepares for her summer move to the Castle.