Sewanee: The University of the South

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Advisory Board

Dean John Gatta

Dean of the College and professor of English, John Gatta has taught courses in American environmental literature at Sewanee and the University of Connecticut.     Publications of his relevant to CRE include Making Nature Sacred: Literature, Religion, and Environment in America from the Puritans to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2004), “Meditation on the Creatures:  Ecoliterary Uses of an Ancient Tradition” (in Early Modern Ecostudies, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), "The Uses of Wilderness: A Christian Perspective" (Anglican Theological Review, 1980), "'Rare and Delectable Places': Thoreau's Imagination of Sacred Space at Walden" (in There Before Us, ed. R. Lundin, Eerdmans, 2007), and “Godliness Writ Large in John Muir's Sierra" (Religion and Literature, 2003).

At Connecticut, he also directed Ph. D. dissertations dealing with Barry Lopez, Ed Abbey, Wendell Berry, and women nature poets.  He is currently writing a book reflecting on ecological and other implications of the Transfiguration of Christ

Dean William Stafford

The Very Rev. Dr. William S. Stafford has been dean of the School of Theology at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., since January 1, 2005.  He came to Sewanee from Virginia Theological Seminary where he had served since 1976, finally as vice president and associate dean for academic affairs and the David J. Ely Professor of Church History.   He is a specialist in the medieval and Reformation period.  Dean Stafford earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Stanford University and two masters degrees and the Ph.D from Yale University. He did doctoral study at the University of Strasbourg in France and post-doctoral  at Durham and Cambridge in England.  Dean Stafford has been an Episcopal priest since 1982, serving in American and English parishes.  He is married to Barbara Stafford, has three married children, two young children, and four grandchildren, grew up in California between the coast and the Sierras, and likes few things better than long tramps through the Yorkshire Dales with a good fire and glass at the end of the road.

Chaplin Tom MacFie

Tom Macfie is the University Chaplain. He holds a bachelors degree and Master of Divinity from the University of the South. Before ordination he was involved in education as a teacher at at a boarding school in New England and as a director of a boy’s camp in central Maine. These experiences fostered a deep interest in the intersection between education, faith and the environment. Prior to his work as a chaplain, he served for 17 years as the rector of two parishes in middle Tennessee.

Dr. Bran Potter

Bran Potter is Professor of Geology and holds a bachelors degree from Williams College and a Masters and Phd from the University of Massachusetts. His primary research interest is documenting the Cumberland Overthrust of the Southern Cumberland Plateau. He is also researching the history of the geological sciences at Sewanee and working on a book about the geological history of the Cumberland Plateau for interested hikers and laypeople. Research outside the southeast is the deformation of the Vishnu Schist in the western Grand Canyon.

Dr. Sid Brown

Dr. Sid Brown is Associate Professor in the Religion Department and served for three years as Director of the Environmental Studies Program, the interdisciplinary program that includes 17 different departments and over 30 faculty members, at Sewanee. Her most recently published book, -A Buddhist in the Classroom-, is a series of essays based on her experiences teaching Buddhism and the Environment. She also teaches Religious Environmentalism and assisted in the founding of Sewanee’s Environmental Resident Program, a dorm-based environmental education and engagement program.

The Rev. Donald Allston Fishburne, D. Min.

Donald Fishburne, 58, has been Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Chattanooga for two years.

He led congregational development as Rector of St. Michael and All Angels Church, Sanibel Island, in the diocese of Southwest Florida for seven years, focusing on preaching and worship, developing ministry leaders and teams, Stewardship of the Riches of God’s Grace, stewardship of creation, outreach ministries, and endowment building. For the ten years prior Donald specialized in city ministry at St. Paul’s, Augusta, Georgia.

He is a native of Charleston, SC, a lifelong Episcopalian and a graduate of the University of the South (B.A.) and The Virginia Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He also earned a Doctorate in Ministry from Sewanee where he now serves on the Board of Regents and the Visiting Committee to the School of Theology.

Joyce Wilding – Third Order Franciscan, Environmental Educator & Spiritual Retreat Leader

Joyce wrote the Templeton Foundation ENTREAT science and religion grant proposal, was co-chair of ENTREAT Local Societies Initiative at the University of the South, and planned, hosted and facilitated the public Science & Religion: Renewal of Reverence series from 2004-7. She is a member of Society of Ordained Scientists (SOSc). Joyce was Province IV Environmental Ministry (EM) leader for twenty Episcopal dioceses in nine southern states, as well as for the EM programs at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, TN. Joyce has been an active member of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS); the Episcopal Ecological Network (EpEN)  National Steering Committee and the EpEN liaison to the Episcopal Science, Technology & Faith Committee. Her “Water of Life” resources are posted on the 2009 Parliament of World’s Religions web pages.

Rebecca Abts Wright

Rebecca grew up in several Methodist parsonages in Ohio. Regardless of their location, there was always a vegetable garden.

She has degrees from The American University and Wesley Theological Seminary, both in Washington, DC and Yale University. As an ordained United Methodist she has served churches in West Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut and always had a vegetable garden. Although her primary academic credentials are in Old Testament and biblical Hebrew, she maintains deep interest in several economic and ecological issues, finding roots for her passions in the Old Testament.

The Rev. Robert D. Hughes, III PhD

Bob Hughes is a priest and Norma and Olan Mills Professor of Divinity at the School of Theology, where he teaches systemic theology and Christian spirituality. He has been interested in environmental issues since elementary school when he did a science fair project on contour plowing and soil conservation. He was a member of the steering committee for ENTREAT, Sewanee’s Templeton Foundation sponsored Metanexus project on religion and science that focused on environmental issues. His recent book, Beloved Dust, among other concerns attempts to lay a solid foundation for a theologically and scientifically sound environmental practice.


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Sewanee: The University of the South735 University Ave, Sewanee, TN 37383931.598.100035.204826-85.921674