Dr. Michelle Lelwica is a professor of religion at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she teaches courses on the intersection of religion, gender, culture, and the body. She did her graduate work at Harvard Divinity School, where she earned a Master of Theological Studies in Christianity and Culture (1989) and a doctorate of Theology in Religion Gender and Culture (1996). Some of the classes she teaches include Women’s Religious History; Religion and the Body; and Religion, Race, and Social Justice.
Dr. Lelwica recently received a Centennial Grant to conduct research on the juvenile justice system, with the help of two Concordia students (you can read about this research project online). She likes to challenge her students with outside-the-box learning opportunities, including mentoring at-risk youth who live at the local detention center; doing an Aikido “lab” (Aikido is a Japanese martial art); practicing mindfulness meditation to promote mental health; and taking field trips to local community gardens and other natural settings to reflect on and experience the connection between spirituality and ecological issues.
Dr. Lelwica has done groundbreaking research and writing about the religious dimensions of eating and body image problems. She is the author of Shameful Bodies: Religion and the Culture of Physical Improvement (Bloomsbury, 2017), The Religion of Thinness: Satisfying the Spiritual Hungers behind Women’s Obsession with Food and Weight (Gürze Press, 2009), and Starving for Salvation: The Spiritual Dimensions of Eating Problems among American Girls and Women (Oxford University Press, 1999), as well as scholarly articles and popular blogs that explore women’s conflicted relationships with their bodies. She is the mother (and biggest fan) of two young men. When she has free time (a rarity!), she enjoys spending time in nature, doing yoga, cross-country skiing in the winter, listening to music, and connecting with family and friends.