Contact Information


Elisabeth T. Vasko, Ph.D., is an associate professor of theology at Duquesne University. Dr. Vasko is a passionate educator who empowers young people to think critically about their capacity for social change. Her teaching and research examines the intersection of Christian tradition and racialized and gender violence. 

Before pursuing a Ph.D., Elisabeth worked as a program coordinator at Amate House, a post-graduate service and leadership program for young adults in Chicago. Previously, she also served as a youth minister and religious educator at Holy Family Parish in the greater Chicago area. 

Elisabeth is an accomplished author. She has written several books, including True Crime and Justice of God: Ethics, Media, and Forensic Science (co-authored with Lyndsie Ferrara). This book explores the impact of true crime media on the Christian moral imagination concerning anti-blackness and sexual violence. She has also written the book Beyond Apathy: A Theology for Bystanders, which examines the role of bystanders in perpetuating and resisting violence. She is also the co-editor with Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos and Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier of “Why We Can’t Wait”: Racism and the Church.

She has published several articles in various scholarly journals, including Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Feminist Theology, Journal of Religion, Journal for the Society of Christian Ethics, and Teaching Theology and Religion.

She has a Ph.D. from the Loyola University of Chicago, an M.A. from Boston College, and a B.S. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Elisabeth enjoys distance running and spending time outside with her family in her spare time.  


  • Ph.D., Theology, Loyola University Chicago
  • M.A., Pastoral Ministry, Boston College
  • B.S., Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Research Interests

  • Feminist ethics
  • Justice
  • Constructive Theologies
  • Theologies of suffering
  • God, Race, and Theology 
  • Is God Good? 
  • Just Sex? 
  • Theological Ethics
  • Racial Geographies and Social Ethics 
  • Theological Views of the Person
  • Classical and Contemporary Theologies
  • Women and Christianity (cross-listed with WSG)
  • Christianity, Embodiment, and Violence (cross-listed with WSGS) 
  • Christology and Sexual Violence 
  • Theology, Media, and Pop Culture 
  • True Crime and the Justice of God (cross-listed with Forensic Science)
  • “Why We Can’t Wait:” Racism and the Church, co-edited with Catherine PunsalanManlimos and Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2023.
  • True Crime and the Justice of God: Ethics, Media and Forensic Science with Lyndsie Ferrara. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2022. 
  • Beyond Apathy: A Theology for Bystanders. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015.  
Book Chapters
  • “White Solidarity on Campus and the Sin of Neutrality,” in In Sheep’s Clothing: The Idolatry of White Christian Nationalism, ed. George Yancy. Rowman Littlefield, forthcoming 2023.
  • “Pink Blankets, Moral Paralysis, Sexual Violence, and Christian Vocation.” In Theologies of Failure, edited by Roberto Sirvent and Duncan Reyburn. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2019: 171-183.
  • “LGBT Bullying at the Crossroads of Christian Theology: Girard, Surrogate Victimage, and Sexual Scapegoating.” In Violence, Transformation, and the Sacred: They Shall Be Called Children of God, College Theology Society Annual Volume, edited by Margaret R. Pfeil and Tobias L. Winwright. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2012, 38-53. 
  • “Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable: Reflections on Long-Distance Running and Teaching” Religious Studies News March (2021): 40-45.
  • “Bad Mothers, Mad Mothers’: Resisting the Theo-Logic of Stigma and Embracing Grace as Dis-Ease.” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 37, no. 1 (2017): 141-159.
  • “Civic Learning and Teaching as a Resource for Sexual Justice: An Undergraduate Religious Studies Course Module.” Teaching Theology and Religion 20, no. 2 (2017): 162170.
  • “Musical Mashups: Examining Whiteness and the Politics of Social Location.” Arts in Religious and Theological Studies 26, no. 2 (2015): 35.
  • “Teaching Race: Pedagogical Challenges in Predominantly White Undergraduate Theology Classrooms,” with Anna Floerke Scheid. Teaching Theology & Religion 17, no. 1 (2014): 27-45.
  • “Holding Us Accountable: A Response to Karen Teel,” with Anna Floerke Scheid. Teaching Theology & Religion 17, no. 1 (2014): 46-47.
  • “The Difference Gender Makes: Nuptiality, Analogy, and the Limits of Appropriating Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theology in the Context of Sexual Violence.” Journal of Religion 94 (2014): 504-528.
  • “Redeeming Beauty? Christa and the Displacement of Women’s Bodies in Theological Aesthetic Discourses.” Feminist Theology 21, no. 1 (2013): 195-208.
  • “Listening & Speaking as Two Sides of the Same Coin: Reflections on Intercultural Feminist Learning,” co-authored with Kamaara, Eunice Karanja, and Jeanine Viau. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 28, no. 2 (2012): 49-67.
  • “Listening to Experience, Looking Towards Flourishing: Ethnography as a Global Feminist Theo/ethical Praxis,” co-authored with Browning, Melissa D., Edith Chamwama, Eunice Kamaara, Sussy Gumo Kurgat, Damaris Parsitau, Emily Reimer-Barry, and Jeanine Viau. Practical Matters 3 (2010): 1-25.
  • “The Goods and Evils of a Globalized Context: African and American Women Doing Theology,” co-authored with Susan A Ross and Melissa D. Browning. Concilium 2009/1: 44-51. 
  • “Are you Brave Enough to Believe: Courageous Leadership in Catholic Universities?” Catholic Theology and Contemporary Universities. Paper at the Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Convention, June 9, 2023, in Milwaukee, WI. 
  •  Paper given at the Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Convention, June 9, 2023, in Milwaukee, WI. 
  • “Catholic Social Teaching and Race,” Seton Hill University, Greensburg, PA, May 12, 2022.
  • “God Hears Our Cries: Sexual Violence in the Bible,” Parish Mission Presentation, Mary Queen of Peace, Pittsburgh, PA, April 4, 2022. 
  • “Under Pressure: How Can, and Should, Religiously Affiliated Colleges Respond to Student Mental Health Crises?” Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Convention, June 11, 2021. 
  • “‘A Little Bit Slutty and A Little Bit Nutty’: Sexual Harassment, Faculty Incivility, and University Ethics,” College Theology Society Annual Convention, South Bend, IN, May 31, 2019. 
  • “What Becomes of Cain and Abel’s Mother: Ambiguous Loss in the Context of Family Violence.” Psyche, Soul, and Salvation: An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Intersection of Psychology and Christian Theology, St. Vincent’s College and the Journal of Moral Theology. Latrobe, PA, March 15, 2019. 
  • "Foul or Fair Play: The Ethics of Simulations in Undergraduate Theological Pedagogy,” Society of Christian Ethics Pedagogy Interest Group, Society of Christian Ethics Annual Meeting, Louisville, KY, January 4, 2019. 
  • “Be Not Afraid: Intimate Partner Violence and the Call to Community.” A Time to Heal Banquet. Gender Relations Center, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, October 24, 2018. 
  • “Putting One’s Body on the Line in the Ordinary: A Response to Eric Martin.” College Theology Society Annual Meeting, St. Paul, MN, June 1, 2018.
  • “Civic Teaching and Learning as a Resource for Theological Pedagogy.” College Theology Society Annual Meeting, St. Paul, MN, June 1, 2018.
  • “Religion and Violence,” with Sharon Higginbotham. Gender Equity in Pittsburgh: Making Intersectional Change Happen, Women’s Institute, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA, November 4, 2017.
  • “What Becomes of Cain and Abel’s Mother: Seeking Authentic Relationship in A World Wounded by Violence.” Invited Lecture for Blessed Are the Peace Makers: Re-imagining a World of Active Nonviolence, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland, John Carroll University, September 30, 2017. 
  • "‘I Believe You’: Sexual Violence, Sin-Talk, and Christian Faith.” Invited lecture as part of Endowed Lecture Series, Called to Intervene: Violence, Spirituality, and Solidarity, Center for Spirituality, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, South Bend, IN. February 23, 2017.
  • “Learning to Sing Alleluia with a Broken Heart: Womanist and Feminist Experiences of Struggle and Grace.” Associates of Sisters of St. Joseph, Baden, PA. November 12, 2016.
  • “Sexual Violence and Communities of Trauma on American College Campuses: Challenges and Possibilities for Christian Ethics.” Societas Ethica, Bad Boll, Germany. August 19, 2016.
  • “From Bystander to Allies: Seeking Authentic Relationship in Community.” Social Action Summer Institute, Xavier University, Chicago, IL. July 19, 2016.
  • “Teaching Religion for Diversity.” Center for Christian-Muslim Dialogue’s Workshop for School Teachers, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA. July 13, 2016.
  • “Ordinary Evils & Ordinary Hopes in the Context of White Racism: Reflections on Spiritual Praxis,” with Alexandra Ketter and Nicolas Kroger. Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Convention, San Juan, Puerto Rico. June 10, 2016.
  • “Bad Mothers, Mad Mothers: Maternal Mental Health and the Need for a New Ethic of Care.” Society of Christian Ethics Annual Meeting, Toronto, Ontario. January 9, 2016.
  • “Moving from Service Learning to Community- Engaged Learning: Refocusing on the Civic Aspects of Engagement,” with Lina Dostillio. Creating a Culture of Engagement Conference, Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, PA. October 9, 2015.
  • “Not in My Backyard: Environmental Racism and Pope Francis’ Call to Foster a Culture of ‘Solidarity and Encounter.’” College Theology Society Annual Convention, Portland, OR. May 29, 2015.
  • “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? The Cross and the Challenge of Solidarity.” St. John Neumann Parish, Pittsburgh, PA. March 22, 2015.
  • “Perfectionism and Moral Innocence: Re-examining White Complacency in the 21st Century.” Center for Catholic and Dominican Studies, Providence College, Providence, RI. February 25, 2015.
  • “Confessing Whiteness? Re-thinking Sin-Talk in the Context of White Supremacy.” Catholic Theological Society of American Annual Convention, San Diego, CA. June 7, 2014.
  • “The Story of the Syro-Phoenician Woman (Mark 7: 24-30): Interpreting Christological Complacency in Contexts Marked by Social Privilege.” College Theology Society Annual Convention, Latrobe, PA. May 31, 2014.
  • “Violence against Women is a Christian Issue.” Human Rights Film Festival Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA. January 21, 2013.
  • “Generations Reflect on Sacrosanctum Concilium: Questions from a Young Feminist.” Catholic Theological Society of American Annual Convention, St. Louis, MO. June 9, 2012.
  • “Critical Reflection: Lessons Learned from Teaching Racism and White Privilege in the Theology Classroom” with Anna Floerke Scheid. College Theology Society Annual Convention, San Antonio, TX. June 2, 2012.
  • “Sacrifice, Scapegoats, and Bullying: Rethinking Passivity and Violence in Christian Atonement Theology.” College Theology Society Annual Convention, New Rochelle, NY. June 4, 2011.
  • “Passivity and Violence: A Theological Reflection on the Problem of Bullying.” Journey Towards Healing: An International Dialogue, sponsored by Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health and the Office of the First Minister and Deputy Minister, Belfast, U.K. March 11, 2011. 
  • Karl G. Grefenstette Faculty Scholar at the Grefenstette Center for Ethics in Technology, Science & Law (2021-2022)
  • John G. Rangos Sr. Prize for "True Crime and the Justice of God (2020) 
  • Recipient of the Best Article published in Theology for "Mad Mothers, Bad Mothers: Resisting Stigma and Embracing Grace as Dis-Ease," Journal of Society of Christian Ethics (2017)
  • Duquesne University's Creative Teaching Award for for the project "Teaching Race in Undergraduate Theology Classes in the Core Curriculum" (2014)