Five theological schools in Minnesota will host a conference on the “Ethical Dimensions of America’s Food System” from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, April 19, in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

The conference, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Northland Ministry Partnership, a rural ministry program of the Minnesota Consortium of Theological Schools. The consortium is comprised of Bethel Seminary, Luther Seminary, St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary, St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas, and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.

A flyer about the conference can be found at the consortium’s Web site

Dr. Fred Kirschenmann

Dr. Fred Kirschenmann

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Fred Kirschenmann, a longtime national and international leader in sustainable agriculture. He is a past director, and current fellow, of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University.  Head of his family’s large organic farm in North Dakota and former academic dean at Curry College in Boston, he holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago. This month, the University Press of Kentucky is publishing a book of his essays, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays From a Farmer Philosopher.

Kirschenmann and seminary representatives will discuss:

  • How sustainable is the food system in the United States?
  • What impact does it have on the environment and people both urban and rural?
  • How do the social teachings of various faith traditions speak to concerns about food production?

Sister Katarina Schuth, OSF, who holds the Endowed Professorship for the Social Scientific Study of Religion at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, will moderate the program. Schuth, who studies the relationship between the church and American culture, grew up on a family farm near Wabasha, Minn.