Malinda Elizabeth Berry, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics
Dr. Malinda Elizabeth Berry is both a theologian and a teacher: she’s passionate about the subject matter of her courses and believes that the content of a course should shape how it is taught. Her commitment to Anabaptism in the Mennonite tradition is evident in her approach to an array of topics, issues, and concerns of our day: Christian social responsibility, environmental stewardship—with an emphasis on human ecology, and renewing congregational life in its structural and spiritual dimensions. In addition to the research she does to support her teaching, Malinda continues to develop her contribution to peace theology: shalom political theology (SPT). She is currently working to outline a model for theological reflection based on SPT for application in congregational and organizational settings.
How does the Bible shape your vocation as a professor?
While I do my work as a theologian and ethicist, I incorporate a practice called confessional Bible study in many of my courses. Developed by my AMBS colleagues in the Bible and Church & Ministry departments, confessional Bible study grounds theological reflection in communal conversation about Christian Scripture, ensuring that Anabaptist spirituality and study shape our application of biblical values.
What should students expect in your classroom?
My teaching strategies vary from course to course, but the values that undergird all my teaching practices include an active back-and-forth between my students and me; assignments that call for the integration of knowing, being, and doing; and a Christian commitment to nonviolence.
I am also fond of asking students to write lengthy research papers, because the process of moving from an interest to a topic to an argument to a conversation that matters to a whole community of people is a rigorous and rewarding process. Holding together “academic excellence” and “spiritual formation” is one way we know we are living the call of the Shema: to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength.
What are some of the diverse voices you incorporate into your teaching?
Because Christianity is a racially, ethnically, and nationally diverse movement with adherents of all ages, genders, and economic classes, I believe the sources my students and I look to in our reading, research, writing, teaching, and learning are most faithful when they reflect this reality. As a woman of color in a predominantly white denomination and teaching context, I consider it one of my responsibilities and joys to help others forge intellectual and spiritual connections with theologians and ethicists of all colors.
Memberships and associations
My goal for students
Why I am at AMBS