About the Chair

BesteJennifer Beste

College of Saint Benedict Koch Chair in Catholic Thought and Culture

Curriculum Vitae

Jennifer Beste received her Masters of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1997 and her Ph.D. in Religious Ethics from Yale University in 2003. Before accepting the position as Koch Chair in Catholic Thought and Culture at the College of Saint Benedict, Jennifer taught at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio from 2003-2012. Her book God and the Victim, published by Oxford University Press in 2007, examines the challenges that trauma theory poses to Christian conceptions of the self, human freedom, and God’s grace.

Jennifer’s most recent book, College Hookup Culture and Christian Ethics: The Lives and Longings of Emerging Adults (Oxford University Press), builds on the reflections of 126 undergraduate students who set out as sober ethnographers to observe and analyze peers at college parties. Corroborated by a growing body of research, these accounts present a serious challenge to the neutral or even benevolent view of hookup culture embraced by some sociologists, “sex-positive” feminists, and popular culture in general. Beste argues, with insights from theologian Johann Metz and additional qualitative research involving 150 students at a different university, that college campuses are presently home to a vast cultural crisis in authenticity, vulnerability, and relationality. Taking seriously the counter-cultural, Christian narrative of what it means to become fully human in Metz’s Poverty of Spirit, Beste and her students dialogue with scholars including Margaret Farley to consider alternative paths to joy, justice, freedom, and happiness. This book’s exploration of social norms on college campuses culminates in a call to action. Especially in light of the prevalence of sexual violence and varieties of traumatization occurring on campuses today, Beste’s vision for creating more socially and sexually just communities could not be more timely and relevant.

For more information about Jennifer’s book, visit: College Hookup Culture and Christian Ethics 

Research Interests

Dr. Beste’s research interests include trauma theory and Christian theology; ethnography and Christian ethics; sexual ethics; feminist ethics; and children, justice, and Catholicism.

College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Jennifer Beste
Koch Chair in Catholic Thought and Culture
Professor of Theology

Catherine Rupp
Department Coordinator
SJU Quad 355A