Professor of Religion
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Anna Peterson’s research is unified by an abiding interest in the ways that values are interpreted and enacted in everyday life. She explores this issue in two main subfields, environmental ethics and Latin American studies.
In a recent series of writings, Peterson has been reflecting on the ways that practices help shape ethical ideas. These pieces form a bridge to her forthcoming book, Everyday Ethics and Social Change: The Education of Desire, which begins to build a constructive social and environmental ethic. Drawing on fields ranging from sociology of the family to natural history, she argues that certain practices of everyday life contain implicit values that can help shape an alternative to some destructive aspects of mainstream culture.
Peterson has begun research for a new book, tentatively titled Border Country, which argues that attention to domestic animals can help environmental ethics clarify our relations with and responsibilities to nonhuman nature more generally.
In a related project, Peterson is working on a study of moral behavior in non-human animals, along with several other ethicists and scientists, including Marc Bekoff, the preeminent scholar of cognitive ethology in the US.
Peterson’s other major research initiative examines the environmental practices of diverse religious congregations. While there are many studies of religious environmental values, she aims to fill the gap in knowledge of what happens on the ground and has begun research in this area.
Finally, in a rare achievement for a humanities scholar, Peterson is a co-PI in a National Science Foundation grant that brings together researchers from several University of Florida schools to design and teach courses on the ethics of sustainability for science and technology professionals.