Dr Alda Balthrop-Lewis

Research Fellow
Religion and Theology

Dr Alda Balthrop-Lewis

Areas of expertise: religion and society; religious ethics; theological ethics; political theology; theology and ecology; environmental ethics; religion and democracy; literature and theology; ethnography

Email: alda.balthrop-lewis@acu.edu.au

Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

ORCID ID: 0000-0001-9017-2655

Alda Balthrop-Lewis is a Research Fellow in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. Before coming to ACU she completed a B.A. at Stanford University, a M.Div. at The University of Chicago and a Ph.D. at Princeton University in Religion, Ethics, and Politics. She has taught in the Religious Studies department at Brown University, and she has worked as a research assistant for the Peabody Award-winning public radio program On Being, produced in the United States.

Her research focuses on religious environmental ethics and the circulation of ideas among theological, artistic, and popular idioms. Her first book, Thoreau’s Religion: Walden Woods, Social Justice, and the Politics of Asceticism (Cambridge University Press, 2021), treats Henry David Thoreau as an inheritor of traditional ascetic practices, and argues that his asceticism is politically relevant – both in his period and for contemporary environmental ethics. She has particular interests in the role of the emotions in environmental politics and in the way that the concepts of ‘religion’ and ‘politics’ are related to theological histories of gender, race, nature, and nation.

Select publications


  • 2021 Thoreau’s Religion: Walden Woods, Social Justice, and the Politics of Asceticism, New Cambridge Studies in Religion and Critical Thought. (Cambridge University Press).

Journal articles

  • (2020) Alimi, Toni, Elizabeth L. Antus, Alda Balthrop‐Lewis, James F. Childress, Shannon Dunn, Ronald M. Green, Eric Gregory, et al. 2020. “COVID-19 and Religious Ethics.” Journal of Religious Ethics 48.3, 349–87.
  • (2020) “Response to Ted Smith.” Modern Theology 36.1, 74–75.
  • (2019) “Active and Contemplative Lives in a Changing Climate: The Emersonian Roots of Thoreau’s Political Asceticism.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 87.2, 311–32.
  • (2019) “Exemplarist Environmental Ethics: Thoreau’s Political Asceticism against Solution Thinking.” The Journal of Religious Ethics 47.3, 525–50.
  • (2018) “Prophecy, Ethical Constraints, and Unjust Silence.” Journal of Religious Ethics 46.1, 157–66.

Book chapters

  • (2021) “Nature and Environment.” In The Oxford Handbook to Reinhold Niebuhr, Robin Lovin and Joshua Mauldin (eds), (Oxford University Press).
  • (2018) “Thoreau’s Woodchopper, Wordsworth’s Leech-Gatherer, and the Representation of ‘Humble and Rustic Life.’” In Theology and Ecology Across the Disciplines: On Care for Our Common Home, Celia Deane-Drummond and Rebecca Artinian-Kaiser (eds), (Bloomsbury: T&T Clark).

Public engagement


ACU Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

Mailing address

C/- 115 Victoria Pde
Fitzroy, VIC, 3065.