Chris Johnson ’85

Alumni and Faculty

Dr. Chris Johnson ('85) is Director for Vocation and Integrative Learning and Associate Director of the Center for Servant Leadership, a major campus-wide initiative that challenges and equips students, staff, faculty, and friends of the College to learn and work, live and lead from within for the sake of the common good. He also teaches courses in theology and ethics with the religion department.

A 1985 graduate of Gustavus, Chris went on for a Master of Arts from Luther Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul and his Ph.D. in theology, ethics and culture from the University of Iowa.  He served as assistant professor of religion and director of service-learning at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, prior to returning to Gustavus to launch the Center for Vocational Reflection (predecessor to the CSL) in 2001.

Chris works in a variety of capacities with state, regional, and national projects around issues of experiential learning, vocation, young-adult development, and spirituality in higher education, including research, writing, and facilitating retreats and workshops.  He is a Circles of Trust® facilitator associated with the Center for Courage and Renewal; a member of the Purpose Project Guild, in association with the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing; and a facilitator with the InCommons initiative, associated with the Bush Foundation.

Chris is also co-founder and board member of Prairie Oaks Institute at Robert Creek, a new nonprofit education, retreat, and sustainable-living center located on a 200-acre century farm near Belle Plaine, Minnesota, whose work is to nourish expansive imagination, bold thinking, wise action, and cross-sector solutions to the unprecedented environmental and social challenges of our time.

Originally from a dairy farm-family of six kids near Litchfield, Minnesota, Chris and his wife Kim ('85) now live in St. Peter with their three children: 19-year-old son, Amos, and 14-year-old twins Josiah and Mara.


BA, Gustavus Adolphus College, 1985 MA, Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary, 1989 PhD, University of Iowa, 1996

Courses Taught

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
REL-253Changing the World82014/JN, 2013/JN, 2010/JN, 2009/JN, 2008/JN, 2005/JN, 2004/JN, and 2003/JN
CUR-399Senior Seminar32012/SP and 2011/FA
FTS-100First Term Seminar12004/FA
REL-244Special Topic: Love, Justice, and Violence12004/SP
REL-233Christian Social Ethics12003/SP
REL-268Career Exploration12002/JN