Curriculum Vitae


  •    Ph.D. (Magna Cum Laude),   Religion and Society, Princeton Theological Seminary, Spring 2011.
  •     M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary, 2005.
  •     B.A. (Communication Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, and Religion) Calvin College, 2002.


  • Raised Firsts in the Church! Afro-Latino/a Practices among the Young Lords Party: A Humanistic Spirituality Model for    Radical Latino/a Religious Ethics.
Honors and Awards:
  • Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion Summer Research Grant; Project Title: “Ethnography, Archival Research and the Teaching of Religion.”
  • Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion: 2013-2014 Pre-Tenured Theological School Faculty Grant.
  • Princeton Theological Seminary: Doctoral Fellowship, 2005-2009.
  • Hispanic Theological Initiative: Dissertation Award, 2009-2010.
  • Hispanic Theological Initiative: Special Mentoring Award, 2007.
  • Hispanic Theological Initiative: Doctoral Grant, 2006.
  • Calvin College: Honors in Philosophy, 2002.
  • Kenneth Konyndyk Jr. Scholarship in Philosophy 1999-2000.
Professional Experience:
  • Drew University Theological School, Assistant Professor of Afro-Latino/a Religions and Cultural Studies, Present
  • Vanderbilt Divinity School,  Visiting Scholar, “Mass-Incarceration and Economic Justice,” Summer 2013.
  • New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Visiting Scholar, “Prisons, Economics, and Justice,” Summer 2012.
  • The College of New Jersey, Adjunct Professor in African American Studies, “African and African Diaspora Religions,” Fall 2010 (honors undergraduate level).
  • Mercer County Community College, “Introduction to Religious Studies,” “Moral Choices,” Fall 2010.
  • Princeton University: Lecturer in Sociology, “Latinos in American Public Life,” Spring 2010 (undergraduate level).
  • Princeton University: Lecturer in African-American Studies, “Introduction to African-American Studies,” Fall 2008 (undergraduate level).
  • Princeton Theological Seminary: teaching fellow, “Cultural Hermeneutics,” Spring 2007 (graduate level).
  • Koinonia Journal: Religion and Society Editor, 2006-2008.
Teaching Competence:
Primary: Sociology, Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Religion, Religious Ethics, Social Movements and Oppositional Politics, Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory, Latino/a Cultural Studies, Africana Studies, Bio-Ethics.
Secondary: Science and Religion, Neuroethics, Latin American/ Latino/a Philosophy, Post-Colonial Studies, Liberation Theologies, Medical Sociology, Literature and Religion.
  • “An Africana Reading of Complexity,” In Entangled Words. Catherine Keller and Mary-Jane Rubestein (eds.), Fordham University Press, (Forthcoming).
  • “Democratic Futures In the Shadow of Mass-Incarceration: Towards a Political Theology of Prison Abolition,” Catherine Keller, Melanie Johnson-Debaufre, and Elias Ortega Aponte (eds.), Common Goods: Economy, Ecology, Political Theology,   Fordham University Press, (Forthcoming).
  • “Eucharistic Celebration and Interdisciplinary Reflection,” Philosophy and Theology, (forthcoming).
  • Kearns, Laurel, James Spickard, and Elias Ortega-Aponte. 2014. “In Memoriam: Otto Maduro (1945-2013)” Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 82 (1): 22-29.
  • “Ethical-Moral Thinking in Santería/Lukumí: Mythology, Individual, and Community,” Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion. (Accepted for publication).
  • Review of Arendt, Augustine, and the New Beginning: The Action Theory and Moral Thought of Hannah Arendt in the Light of Her Dissertation on St. Augustine, by Stephan Kampowski, Koinonia (Volume XXI, 2009).
  • “Mulatez,” “Hip- Hop,” “Young Lords/Young Lords Party,” “Epistemology,” Hispanic American Religious Culture, Encyclopedia 2 vols. ed. Miguel De La Torre (ABC-CLIO Publishers, 2009).

Blog Post

Academic Presentations:
  • “Intersecting Realities,” Koinonia Forum, Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ, April 18, 2015
  • “Black Rebelliousness: Police Brutality, Riots and the Quest for Justice.” Public Lecture; Senior Seminar Presentation, “Political Theology and the Color of Law.” at Lebanon Valley College, PA, March 25, 2015.
  • “Afro-Latin@s Theologies and Theological Engagements,” Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ, March 17, 2015
  • “Neuroethics, Law, and Religious Ethics,” Society of Christian Ethics, Chicago Il, January 2015.
  • “Difficult Conversations in the Class Room,” Wabash Pre-tenure Workshop, July 2014.
  • “Blackness in Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean,” Drew University, La Casa Annual Conference, July 2014.
  • “Vejigante Masks, Bomba Rythms, and Isleño Flow: Puerto Rican Afro-Diasporic Aesthetics,” Society of Biblical Literature, Baltimore,  Maryland, November 23-26, 2013.
  • “Azucar Negra: Latin American Liberation Theology and the Invisibility of Afro-Descendientes,” American Academy of Religion, Baltimore,  Maryland, November 23-26, 2013.
  • “Cultural Competence/Sensitivity as a Life-Long Learning Engagement,” 2013 ACPE Conference, Indianapolis, IN, May 15 – 18, 2013.
  • “The Young Lords and the Peoples Church: Civil Engagement as a form of Spirituality,” DePaul University Center for Inter-Religious Engagement, May 6, 2013.
  • “Mass-Incarceration and an Ecological Challenge,” Eco-Justice Conference, Drew Theological School, Madison NJ, April 11, 2013.
  • “Democratic Futures in the Shadow of Mass-Incarceration: Towards a Political Theology of Prison Abolition,” Twelfth Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium, Drew Theological School, Madison, NJ, February 10, 2013.
  • “Lo Cotidiano of Doing Time: A Sociological Engagement with Isasi-Díaz’s Theo-Ethics in the Shadows of the Prison Industrial Complex” Society of Christian Ethics Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL., January, 5 2013.
  • “Afro-Latinos/as’ Quest for Social Justice: Comment on the Intersection between Religious Ethics and the Social Sciences” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL., November 13, 2012.
  • “Empathy, Neuroethics, and Religious Morality,” Inaugural International Conference on Education Ethics, at Duquesne University May, 2, 2012.
  • “Religious Responses to Mass-Incarceration: An Economic Justice Perspective,” Drew Theological Seminary, Webinar, April 4, 2012.
  • Faculty Seminar, “Empathy and Religions Morality: Cultural Neuroscience Perspective,” Drew University, NJ, February 21, 2012.
  • “Attica’s Long Shadow: Coalitional Politics Against Global Lockdown!” Opening lecture for African Heritage Month at Drew University, January, 25, 2012.
  • “Converging Paths: Ideology, History, and the Recovery of Afro-Latino/a Identity in the Young Lords, New York,” and “Mayra Santos-Febres and the Performance of Blackness,” “Afro-Latin America: Rethinking, Identity, Politics & Culture” 27th Annual Symposium on African American Culture and Philosophy Purdue University-West Lafayette, Indiana. December 1-3, 2011.
  • Herencia Lecture: “Nuestra Negritud: Exploring the Complexities of Race and Gender in the Latina/o Theological Context,” Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ, October 1 3, 2011.
  • “Afro-Latino/a Moral Subjectivity: Transnationalism, Barrio Politics, And a Christian Ethics of Dissent,” Lecture to Drew University Theological School, February 8, 2011.
  • “Latino/a Religions in the United States: An Afro-Latino/a Perspective,” Lecture to Princeton University’s Gateway Course “Latinos in American Public Life,” Fall 2010 (undergraduate level; Nov.29, 2010).
  • “Neuroethics, Affectivity, and Divine Command Theory,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, 2011.
  • “Afro-Latino/a Reading of Agamben: Biopolitics, Race, Political Space, and Social Mobility,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, 2011.
  • “Ethical-Moral Thinking in Santería/Lukumí: Mythology, Individual, and Community.” American Academy of Religion Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting, New Brunswick, NJ, March 2010.
  • “Imaginative Horizons: Habermas and the Possibility of Theology,” American Academy of Religion Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting, New Brunswick, NJ, March 2010.
  • “Afro-Latino Radicalism: Towards a Religious Humanism of Resistance,” Drew University Theological Transdisciplinary Colloquium, Madison, NJ, November, 23, 2008.
  • “Imago Dei, the Young Lords, and the Struggle for Healthcare for Latinos/as,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, November 2008.
  • “God’s Emotional Commands and Their Rational Tale? Finding a Place between Reason and Emotions: Divine Command Theory and Neuroscience,” American Academy of Religion Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting, New Brunswick, NJ, March 2008.
  • “The Path to Citizenship is White: The Whitening of Puerto Ricans 1898-1917,” Stony Brook Manhattan Graduate Conference, New York, NY, March 2007.
Forthcoming Presentations:
  • “Law and the Impact of Neuroethics: A Religious Ethics Engagement,” Society for Christian Ethics, Saint Louis, January 2015.

Public Engagements:

  • “Mass-Incarceration, The Quest for Justice, and The 6th Principle,” Sermon Delived at Ridgewood Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Ridgewood, NJ. April. 2015
  • “Mass-Incarceration, The Quest for Justice, and The 6th Principle,” Morristown Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, July 2014.
  • “Packing for the Journey,” Sermon Delived at Morristown Unitarial Fellowship, December “Cultural Competence and Sensitivity: A Life-Long Learning,” Drew University, Sept.26, 2014
  • “Violent Prevention,”  Newark Tech Highschool, Feature Speaker Violence Prevention Week., Newark, November 2014.
  • “Cultural Competence/Sensitivity as a Life-Long Learning Engagement,” ASCE Annual Conference Workshop: Indiana, IN, May 2013
  • “Cultural and Spiritual Dimensions of End-of-Life Ethics,” Series of three seminars for Ombudsman, NJ, December-March 2013.
Professional Memberships:
  • American Academy of Religion,
  • Society of Christian Ethics
  • American Society for Bioethics and Humanities
  •  Caribbean Philosophical Association.


  • Advisory Board Member of Center for the Study and Practice of Urban Religion(CSPUR) New York Theological Seminary
  • Board Member of Puerto Rican Diaspora Advisory Council to the Sila M. Calderón Foundation.

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