College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Faculty > Faculty News & Announcements > Dr. William T. Cavanaugh Announced as the 2023 Cortelyou-Lowery Award Recipient

Dr. William T. Cavanaugh Announced as the 2023 Cortelyou-Lowery Award Recipient

William T. Cavanaugh

William T. Cavanaugh, PhD, Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, is the recipient of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences’ 2023 Cortelyou-Lowery Award (CLA). On the recommendation of the College Awards Committee, the CLA is given annually to an outstanding faculty colleague who has demonstrated sustained excellence in the College. In the 27 years since earning the doctorate, Professor Cavanaugh has developed an impressive international reputation as a scholar, teacher and center administrator.

After completing the BA at the University of Notre Dame, Professor Cavanaugh received both a BA and MA in Theology and Religious Studies from Cambridge University in Cambridge, England. He went on to earn the PhD in Religion at Duke University in 1996, and taught at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota before joining the faculty at DePaul in 2010 as a full professor.

The road to Bill’s reputation as an international scholar specializing in political theology, economic ethics, and ecclesiology began in 1987 while working on a housebuilding project in a slum in Santiago, Chile, under the military dictatorship. His time there served as inspiration for his first book, Torture and Eucharist (1998). Two more books followed before his fourth, The Myth of Religious Violence (2009), inspired a three-day conference at Dartmouth in 2012 that Dartmouth Government professor Lucas Swaine called “the liberal arts in action.” His 2016 book, Field Hospital, led Joseph Mangina of the University of Toronto to call Bill “one of contemporary Catholicism’s most important thinkers.” His most recent book manuscript, The Uses of Idolatry, is pending publication by Oxford UP in 2024.

A scholar of the world, Bill’s published work has appeared in 17 languages. In addition to nine single-authored books, he has edited or co-edited seven more and written over 120 scholarly articles and book chapters. Since 1993, he has given well over 300 public talks, conference papers, responses, and endowed, named, or invited lectures—in 23 countries on 6 continents. With significant interests in the social implications of traditional Catholic beliefs and practices and the Church’s social and political presence in situations of violence and economic injustice, Bill is or has been a reviewer or editorial board member for the most important scholarly outlets in the fields to which he contributes.

As Director of the Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology (CWCIT) since 2013, Bill has brought the world he has visited and addressed back to DePaul. Under his leadership, and with the support of Catholic Studies colleagues—Mike Budde, Stan Chu Ilo, Karen Kraft, and Marlon Aguilar—the CWCIT sustains an international exchange that has brought research fellows from Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. The CWCIT produces a book series and a podcast series, and sponsors World Catholicism Week, a global gathering that welcomes scholars and practitioners from around the world each spring. Bill has made the CWCIT a locus of mentoring and support primarily for under-resourced scholars and practitioners across the Global South; the Center has conducted events in the Philippines, Brazil, Nigeria, and Kenya, all of which were funded by external foundation grants.

Among the greatest beneficiaries of Bill’s energies as a scholar and his connections around the world have been his students. He has taught nearly a dozen different courses in Catholic Studies, which have also contributed to curricula and reached students in History, Religious Studies, and Political Science. It is to Bill’s enormous credit that he continues to regularly engage first-year students in both a Focal Point and his signature Discover Chicago course, Global Catholicism in Story and Stone. Each year, a selection of students in his CTH 181, Introduction to World Catholicism, are invited to present their research at the World Catholicism Week conference.

Through teaching, research, and his center directorship, across more than 25 years as a professional—a dozen of those at DePaul—Dr. William T. Cavanaugh is recognized as a world-renowned scholar of Catholic studies, a committed and engaged teacher, and the visionary force behind one of DePaul’s most engaged, well recognized, and influential centers. The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences is proud to present to him our highest honor, the Cortelyou-Lowery Award for Excellence for​ 2023.