Dr Di Rayson

Dr Di Rayson

Casual Academic

School of Humanities and Social Science

Career Summary


Dr Di Rayson came to theology after a varied career.

With a background in Public Health, she has worked in PNG, NT and NSW in community development, health promotion, and program delivery roles. She was the NT's tobacco control officer who developed legislation to limit smoking in public places and restrict sale of tobacco. In PNG she worked in Women and Their Children's Health (WATCH) projects, training village birth attendants. She was Director for Alcohol and Other Drugs and then Director for Crime Prevention in the NT government, and has run a consultancy in public policy, community engagement, and research.

As an academic, Di's research has centred on the life and work of German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) and especially its relevance to contemporary social issues. 

Her thesis, Bonhoeffer's Theology and Anthropogenic Climate Change: In Search of an Ecoethic  
interrogates the problem of climate change from a theological perspective. Bonhoeffer's Christological foundation provides an entry point for understanding the human place in the ecology. Following Bonhoeffer, it investigates an ecoethic commensurate to the problem, utilising notions of Stellvertretung and Sachgemäßheit: ethics based on standing in the place of the other, and appropriate to the context of the problem.

She works with churches and religious groups to help them understand that climate change is a religious problem requiring a religious response.

Di has worked on other contemporary issues such as war, rape culture, and theology and the arts. She has also published on Bonhoeffer and Gandhi and Bonhoeffer's political theology. She has been invited to speak in South Africa and Chicago, and is regularly interviewed on ABC radio for a theological and ethical perspective on social issues.

Di teaches into the Bachelor of Arts program at UON and elsewhere she lectures in theological studies. Some sample student feedback comments:

  • Thank you for a wonderful course, I found it challenging and exceptionally interesting.

  • I just wanted to say thank you for your guidance and help this semester. I feel completely overwhelmed by the responses and feedback I have been given for my assessment tasks. I have honestly never done as well in any assessment tasks at a tertiary level as I have in this subject.

  • Di’s extensive knowledge, passion for the subject and expertise is clearly evident. The lecture materials were accessible and Di was easy to contact if advice was requested. She was also very quick to respond, which I appreciated.

  • I very much appreciated Di’s encouraging emails at the start of each week.

  • Di was amazing throughout the Unit. She responded so quickly to questions or comments on the discussion board. I really enjoyed that her passion comes through in her videos and even in the weekly updates. Her feedback on assessments was incredibly explicit and detailed - which I appreciated. 

  • Thank you so much for the scaffold for approaching the assignment. I love your energy and passion for what you are teaching and the way you are supporting us. 

Di is an elected board member of the International Bonhoeffer Society - English Language Section and is Deputy Editor of The Bonhoeffer Legacy: An International Journal. She is Convenor of the Australian Bonhoeffer Conference.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Diploma in Applied Science (Nursing), University of Newcastle
  • Master of Public Health, Curtin University
  • Graduate Certificate in Theology, University of Newcastle
  • Master of Theology, University of Newcastle


  • Bonhoeffer
  • Christian Ethics
  • Christology
  • Earthly Christianity
  • Ecoethics
  • Ecofeminism
  • Ecotheology
  • Feminist Theology
  • Homo cosmicos
  • Public Theology

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
500501 Theology 50
500599 Theology not elsewhere classified 50

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Casual Academic University of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
9/10/2017 - 19/10/2019 Lecturer Theological Studies

Di lectures at The University of Newcastle and at Charles Sturt University.

Her experience in public health, programs and policy, in research and community development, media and marketing, and now in theology, means she is well equipped to teach across the humanities. 

At UON she has taught policy development, research methodology, epistemology, mental health, and sociology for health care providers.

At CSU she teaches ecotheology, systematics and ethics.

At BBI-TAITE taught Foundations for Theological Studies and Bonhoefferian theology.

BBI - The Australian Institute of Theological Education



Year Award
2020 ECR Award for Paper submitted to ANZATS Annual Conference


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Book (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2021 Rayson D, Bonhoeffer and Climate Change Theology and Ethics for the Anthropocene, Fortress Academic, 314 (2021)

Chapter (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2021 Rayson D, 'the burning summer', Cloud Climbers: Declarations through images and words for a just and ecologically sustainable peace, Palaver, Armadale, VIC 69-71-69-71 (2021)
2020 Rayson D, 'The hills are alight', Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church, SCM Press, London 121-125 (2020)
2018 Rayson D, 'Women s Bodies and War: Bonhoeffer on Self-Assertion', Rape Culture, Gender Violence, and Religion, Springer International Publishing 119-141 (2018)
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-72685-4_7
2017 Rayson D, 'Bonhoeffer and 'The Right to Self-Assertion': Understanding Theologically the Mastery of Nature and War', Ecological Aspects of War: Religious and Theological Perspectives, ATF Press, Hindmarsh, S.A. 95-110 (2017)
2016 Rayson DP, Lovat TL, ''Lord of the (Warming) World': Bonhoeffer's Ecotheological Ethic and the Gandhi Factor', The Nature of Things: Rediscovering the Spiritual in God's Creation, Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR 125-135 (2016) [B1]
Co-authors Terry Lovat
Show 2 more chapters

Journal article (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Rayson D, 'Earthly Christianity: Bonhoeffer s contribution to ecotheology and ecoethics', The Bonhoeffer Legacy: An International Journal, 6 21-34 (2018)
2016 Rayson DP, 'Bonhoeffer s Christology in a Warming World: Ecotheological Conversations with Feminist Theology', Seachanges: Women Scholars of Religion and Theology, 7 (2016) [C1]
2015 Rayson DP, 'Letters to London: Bonhoeffer's previously unpublished correspondence with Ernst Cromwell 1935-6', The Bonhoeffer Legacy: Australasian Journal of Bonhoeffer Studies, 3 101-102 (2015)
2014 Rayson D, Lovat T, 'Lord of the (Warming) World: Bonhoeffer's Eco-theological Ethic and the Gandhi Factor', The Bonhoeffer Legacy: Australasian Journal of Bonhoeffer Studies, 2 57-74 (2014) [C1]
Co-authors Terry Lovat
Rayson D, 'From Pacifism to Tyrannicide: Considering Bonhoeffer s Ethics for the Anthropocene', Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 33 244-264
DOI 10.1558/jasr.42288
Show 2 more journal articles

Review (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Rayson D, 'The Cross of Reality: Luther's Theologica Crucis and Bonhoeffer's Christology by H. Gaylon Barker (2018)
2017 Rayson D, 'Radical Discipleship: A Liturgical Politics of the Gospel (2017)
2016 Rayson D, 'Review of Christ, Church, and World: New Studies in Bonhoeffer's Theology and Ethics, ed Michael Mawson and Philip G. Ziegler (2016)
2016 Rayson D, 'The Doubled Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Women, Sexuality and Nazi Germany (2016)
2015 Rayson D, 'Review of Letters to London: Bonhoeffer's Previously Unpublished Correspondence with Ernst Cromwell 1935-36 (2015)
Show 2 more reviews

Other (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Cuffe H, Plunkett K, Rayson D, Seah M, 'Editorial: Constellations NewMac 2016', Editorial: Constellations NewMac 2016 (2016)
Co-authors Michele Seah

Grants and Funding


Number of grants 1
Total funding $1,500

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

20131 grants / $1,500

Flechtheim Scholarship$1,500

Flechtheim Scholarship Background Information

The Flechtheim Scholarship was established in 2006 by a legacy from the donor’s maternal grandfather, Julius Flechtheim, a former professor of Jurisprudence at Berlin University who died as a victim of the Holocaust in 1940. He was a contemporary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lectured on systematic theology at the same time and who was killed by the Nazis in 1945.

The legacy funding the scholarship was made available by Father Stephen Moore, Julius’s grandson, after the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims in 2005 recognised the legitimacy of a life insurance policy taken out by Professor Flechtheim 70 years earlier.

In their respective fields both men recognised in the upheaval of their country that true responsibility (both secular and temporal) means freedom and true freedom means responsibility. Both confronted the ‘principalities and powers’ of the Third Reich: Flechtheim stood up for justice as defined by international law; Bonhoeffer was martyred for his confrontation over the legitimacy of the State’s authority. In a setting where democracy was replaced by authoritarianism, both challenged the authenticity of theological and political power.

The scholarship is offered in the hope that it will give fresh inspiration to all who are called to ask the awkward moral and ethical questions by encouraging study into the ethics of responsible action with particular reference to Bonhoeffer’s theology.

Funding body: Flechtheim Scholarship Fund

Funding body Flechtheim Scholarship Fund
Project Team

Sole recipient

Scheme Flechtheim Scholarship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2013
Funding Finish 2013
Type Of Funding C3120 - Aust Philanthropy
Category 3120

Dr Di Rayson


Casual Academic
School of Humanities and Social Science
College of Human and Social Futures

Contact Details

Email dianne.rayson@newcastle.edu.au
Links Twitter


Building W
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308