Elizabeth M. Bounds

Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Elizabeth M. Bounds
Phone: 404.727.4172
    • PhD, Union Theological Seminary, 1994
    • MDiv, Union Theological Seminary, 1986
    • BA/MA, Cambridge University, 1980
    • BA, Harvard University, 1978

    Dr. Elizabeth M. Bounds, who joined Candler’s faculty in 1997, is engaged in the Justice, Peacebuilding, and Conflict Transformation Concentration, part of the Master of Divinity degree program at Candler. She also teaches courses as part of the Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding Concentration in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion. 

    Bounds’ interests include restorative justice and the prison system, peace-building and conflict transformation, democratic practices and civil society, feminist and liberation ethics, and transformative pedagogical practices. The core of her research, teaching and scholarship is focused on moral and theological responses to conflict and violence, whether in the U.S. prison system, ordinary congregational life, or post-conflict situations such as Liberia. She is the author of Coming Together/Coming Apart: Religion, Modernity, and Community (Routledge, 1997), co-editor of Welfare Policy: Feminist Critiques and Justice in the Making: Feminist Social Ethics (Pilgrim Press, 1999) and has authored several essays in edited volumes.

    Dedicated to community service, Bounds is the co-founder and administrator of the Certificate in Theological Studies at the Lee Arrendale State Prison for Women in Alto, Georgia. She also serves as the faculty advisor for Candler Women, a student group that provides community support and advocacy for women in the Candler community. Bounds is Co-Chair of the Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Group at the American Academy of Religion, and belongs to several other professional associations.

    In 2014, Bounds was appointed a Senior Fellow of the Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry for 2014-15 for her project, “Redeeming Responsibility: A Christian Ethics of Incarceration,” and has received numerous other honors, awards and grants for her contributions to the academy.

    Bounds' religious affiliation is Presbyterian.

    Selected publications

    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication

    "Criminal Justice and Christian Community," in Political Theology, vol. 16, issue 3.Maney,2015

    "Round Table Discussion: William F. May, Testing the National Covenant: Some Thoughts in Response," in Political Theology, vol. 15, issue 3.Maney,2014

    "Holistic Character Ethics: An Ethics for a Social Gospel?" in Ethics as if Jesus Mattered: Essays in Honor of Glen H. Stassen.Smyth & Helwys Publishing,2014

    "Are We Productive Yet?" in Religious Studies News.American Academy of Religion,2010

    "Theological Reflection in Contextual Education: An Elusive Practice," in Contextualizing Theological Education.Pilgrim Press,2008

    "For Prisoners and Our Communities," in To Do Justice: A Guide for Progressive Christians.Westminster John Knox Press,2008

    Co-editor,Justice in the Making: Feminist Social Ethics.Westminster John Knox Press,2004

    Co-author,"'We Will See Many Miracles': Religion, Globalization, and the International Community School," in Religion in Global Civil Society.Oxford University Press,2004

    Co-editor,"Welfare as a Family Value: Conflicting Notions of Family in Protestant Welfare Responses," in Welfare Policy: Feminist Critiques.Pilgrim Press,1999

    Coming Together/Coming Apart: Religion, Community and Modernity.Routledge,1997

    Selected awards

    Senior Fellow, Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Emory University, 2014-2015.

    Unitas Distinguished Alumni/ae Award, Union Theological Seminary, 2011.

    Provost's Program in Manuscript Development, Emory University, 2003-2004.

    Outstanding Service-Learning Educator, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1997.

    Summer Faculty Fellow, Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1996.

    Diggs Teaching Scholar Award, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1995.

    AAR/Lilly/NEH Grant for Workshop on Teaching Religion in the American South, 1995-1996.

    Daniel Day Williams Award, Union Theological Seminary, 1991.

    Union Traveling Fellowship, 1986.

    Union Scholarship, 1983-1988.

    The core of Bounds' research, teaching and scholarship lies in the moral and theological responses to conflict and violence, whether in the U.S. prison system, in ordinary congregational life, or in post-conflict situations such as Liberia.

    Focusing on the way the church works in the world, she sees ethics as a practice requiring theological reflection, social analysis and self-critique. From the time she was a founding elder of a Presbyterian congregation committed to prisoners in 1986, Bounds has continued a strong commitment to Christian engagement with the U.S. criminal justice system. 

    She is the co-founder and administrator of the Theological Certificate Program at the Arrendale State Prison for Women in Alto, Georgia, which prepares incarcerated women to serve as leaders, and provides seminary and doctoral students from four Atlanta Theological Association schools with teaching and ministry experience.

    Bounds is writing a book on the ethics of responsibility and redemption as a restorative approach to incarceration, based on her years of teaching at Arrendale.

    “No One is Beyond Redemption: A Candler Conversation on Capital Punishment and the Scheduled Execution of Kelly Gissendaner” - Candler School of Theology, September 22, 2015

    "Vigil of Life, Light and Solidarity for Kelly Gissendaner" - Cannon Chapel, March 1, 2015

    Moderator, "LOGOS: Theological Imagination and Secularization" - Prophetic Voices Centennial Academic Conference, Cannon Chapel, March 19, 2015

    Selected courses

    Theology and Ethics of Reconciliation

    Restorative Justice

    Conflict Skills