Public Relations  >  News Center  >  News Releases  >  September 2019  >  September 10, 2019  >  Theology Professor John O’Keefe Receives Inaugural Kingfisher Award
Theology Professor John O’Keefe Receives Inaugural Kingfisher Award

John O'KeefeCreighton University theology professor and documentary filmmaker John O’Keefe, PhD, was named the recipient of the inaugural Kingfisher Award during a campus Town Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

O’Keefe is a scholar of patristic theology whose commitment to environmental justice has inspired his research in the area of eco-theology. This presidential award is given in partnership with the University’s Kingfisher Institute for the Liberal Arts and Professions.

“In the words of the Rev. Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ, whose poem As Kingfishers Catch Fire inspires the work of the Kingfisher Institute, we ‘say more,’” said Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD. “With the Kingfisher Award, we seek to recognize outstanding Creighton faculty and staff who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the enduring values, principles, and practices of the humanities as they relate to the work and activities of our University and our community.”

O’Keefe has expanded the impact of his research through the medium of documentary film, in partnership with colleagues and students across departments. O’Keefe has continuously explored ways to use evolving technologies to provide access to the humanities to the wider public.

Collaborating with colleagues in journalism, media and computer science, he has led the award-winning Backpack Journalism program, which takes students around the world to tell compelling stories of the marginalized and those fighting for justice.

His films have taken him from the U.S.-Mexico border, where he produced and co-directed a film exploring the challenges facing migrants on the border; to El Salvador, where he and a team filmed a documentary about the Jesuit martyrs of 1989; to Uganda, where he’s explored the Church’s work for peace and reconciliation, and its role in the preservation of musical culture. A focus on themes of Catholic Social Teaching and the Church’s mission to the poor runs throughout all of O’Keefe’s work.

The Kingfisher Institute is founded on a bold vision for the future of higher education, and Jesuit and Catholic higher education, in particular: a vision that liberal arts and professional education complement and reinforce one another. Moreover, through the formation of faculty and staff, the Institute aims to influence every single student in all of Creighton’s nine schools and colleges.

The Kingfisher Award includes a $5,000 grant for research and scholarship, along with a Kingfisher statuette created by renowned wildlife sculptor Dan Ostermiller.


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