Karen Jo Torjesen holds the Margo L. Goldsmith Chair of Women’s Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University where she founded an MA and PhD program in Women’s Studies in Religion in 1990 and collaborated with Jean Schroedel in Political Science in starting an MA in Applied Women’s Studies in 1995. Professor Torjesen's research interests include constructions of gender and sexuality in early Christianity, authority and institutionalization in the early churches, hermeneutics and rhetoric in late antiquity, and comparative study of Greek and Latin patristic traditions. During her tenure as assistant professor of patristic theology at the University of Goettingen (Germany), her book Hermeneutical Procedure and Theological Structure in Origen's Exegesis was published by de Gruyter.
She then moved into the area of Transnational Feminism, developing a course in Transnational Feminisms: Theory and Practice, and sponsoring immersion courses on women’s issues in India and Africa. She launched the Global Women’s Research Institute in 2007 at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt to foster collaboration between researchers and activists. Her recent activities have focused on southern Africa where she served as an advisor for the development of a Gender Research Center at the University of Botswana.
Among her publications are When Women Were Priests: Women’s Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity; Women in American Christianity, ed. with Cheryl Kirk-Dugaan, and Indigenous Peoples and the Modern State, ed. with Susan Steiner and Duane Champagne.