Ethics and Society

Course of Study Description

The Ethics and Society (ES) Course of Study offers interdisciplinary studies centered on ethics and the sociology of religion. It fosters a scholarly conversation in which students are encouraged to draw deeply and widely on theological and philosophical traditions in ethics, while situating moral issues and public policies in their institutional and cultural contexts. Through the social, cultural, and comparative study of religion, it prepares students to analyze the social institutions, everyday practices, and cultural expressions of religious life and moral discourse.

Students can concentrate either in ethics or in religion and society. They share work in social theory, social philosophy, and Christian social teaching to map the mutuality of moral meaning and social structures. Concentrators in ethics may combine studies in theological and philosophical ethics with special interests in social, political, professional or policy ethics (such as biomedical, environmental, or business ethics); practical theology; conflict transformation; virtue ethics and moral development; feminist and womanist ethics; ethics and the Black Church; and comparative religious ethics, particularly in Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism. Students in religion and society may combine the sociology and anthropology of religion, including the study of congregational and denominational life, with special interests in Judaism; gender; religious practices; religion and American culture, politics and public life; Black Church studies; urban-suburban social change; moral psychology; and the sociology of morality, culture, or law.

Students in Ethics and Society are prepared for a wide variety of teaching, research, and administrative positions in academic and religious institutions. The resources available to them extend well beyond those of the course of study itself. They enjoy extraordinary opportunities offered by Emory University’s Center for Ethics in Public Policy and the Professions; Emory Law’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion; the Emory Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life; and the Carter Center of Emory University, which includes a special focus on human rights and conflict resolution. Many students draw on offerings across the Graduate Division of Religion and in other areas of the university. These include the departments of Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology, History, Political Science, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts and the schools of Medicine and Public Health. In addition, the greater Atlanta area offers such resources as the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, several other major universities, and schools of theology.

For a full listing of current faculty: Ethics and Society Faculty

Preliminary Examinations

Please contact the chair of the course of study for more information.

Special Requirements

Please contact the chair of the course of study for more information.

Selected Courses

Please contact the chair of the course of study for more information.

Recent Dissertations

Recent dissertation and placement information:


Justin Jon Lattrell, "The Constitution of Religious Liberty: Religion, Power, and the Birth of the Secular Purpose Test, 1844-1971"

James, William McCarty, III, “Transitional Justice and the Trinity:  A Christian Ethic for Reconciliation with Justice” 

Darryl Dejuan Roberts, "The Struggle Is Not Over: An Examination of the Impact of the Climate of Religious Freedom During the Civil Rights Movement on the Pursuit of Civil Rights and Religious Liberty."

Matthew J. Tuininga, "Christ's Two Kingdoms: Calvin's Political Theology and the Public Engagement of the Church"

Jillinda Weaver "When Freedom Is Not Free: an Ethical Critique of a Nations' Sacred Ideal"


Jermaine McDonald, "The Canonization of Martin Luther King, Jr. - Collective Memory, Civil Religion, and the Reconstruction of an American Hero"

Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon, "Violence and the Language of Virtue: Political violence, ethical discourse, and moral transformation"


Melissa Rubalcaba, "L@s Indocumentad@s: A Feminist Decolonial Analysis of the Anthropological Subject in Roman Catholic Teachings on Gender and Sexuality and Catholic Social Thought."  Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Mount St. Mary's University