Jim Martin-Schramm

A Global Perspective at an Early Age

Martin-Schramm is trained in Christian ethics, and most of his scholarship has been in the area of ethics and public policy. “I attribute my interest in this area to the good fortune of spending the first twelve years of my life overseas in Heidelberg, West Germany, and Nigel, South Africa,” he says. “I think this gave me a global perspective and awareness of significant ethical issues like the Holocaust in Europe and apartheid in South Africa.”

Current Research

Martin-Schramm is currently co-authoring the fifth edition of Christian Ethics: A Case Method Approach. “It includes cases on a wide range of topics like abortion, physician-assisted death, capital punishment, environmental responsibility, and various topics related to economic justice,” he says. “This edition will include new cases dealing with gun violence, sexual assault, and genetic modification.” The manuscript is due later this year (2019).

Taking His Knowledge and Students Abroad

“I’ve taught a study-away course, Environmental Ethics, several times at Holden Village—one of the most unique and remote places in the U.S.,” he says. “Last January, I co-taught for a second time a Paideia 450 course titled Green Europe, which explores the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables that is under way in Germany and the United Kingdom.” Martin-Schramm says he loves teaching these courses because he gets to know students so well and he sees how their learning plays out all around them on a daily basis.

What Attracts Him to the Liberal Arts

Martin-Schramm was a parish pastor for three years before earning a PhD in Christian Ethics at Union Seminary.  After that, he was hired as a professor at Luther. “As an ethicist, I really wanted to teach at a church-related liberal arts college where I could work closely with students but also interact closely with faculty colleagues in other areas,” he says. “Ethics is inherently an interdisciplinary enterprise. It would have been harder to work in such an interdisciplinary way at a seminary.”

What He Appreciates Most

Martin-Schramm says there are three things he likes best about being a professor at Luther. “One is watching my students make connections between what they are learning in their classes,” he says. “Another is the opportunity to co-teach Paideia 450 courses with so many excellent members of the Luther faculty. Finally, another rewarding part has been working for a school that takes seriously its obligation to ‘practice joyful stewardship’ of the resources that surround us—especially regarding reducing our campus carbon footprint.”

Martin-Schramm was recently appointed to serve as the second director of Luther’s Center for Sustainable Communities, which coordinates Luther’s sustainability work on campus and serves as a catalyst for change in the Decorah region.


“I’m a member of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics. I recently completed terms of service on the boards of the Iowa Wind Energy Association and Iowa Interfaith Power and Light. I also continue to serve on the board of the Winneshiek Energy District.”

—Jim Martin-Schramm  

Soccer’s His Game

“I grew up playing soccer as a kid in South Africa, so I’m addicted to the sport—especially the English Premier League. I’m an Arsenal fan but I also follow closely Nottingham Forest since my wife and I spent a year there co-directing Luther’s Nottingham Program in 2016–17. “