Courses

  • STH TS 854: The Boston University Ethical Tradition
    This seminar is designed to orient participants to the BU tradition in theology and ethics that has its roots in the 19th century. We will consider the Boston Personalists beginning with Borden Parker Bowne, John Wesley Edward Bowen, and especially the work of Edgar S. Brightman, as well as the later Personalists -- Albert C. Knudson and Francis McConnell. We will also explore the works of Georgia Harkness, L. Harold DeWolf, Peter Bertocci, and in particular, Walter Muelder (and the Moral Law tradition). There is an emphasis on Howard Thurman and his impact on BU, as well as the influence of the BU ethical tradition on the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. We will also consider the ethics of contemporary exponents of the BU ethical tradition. Throughout the seminar, there is consideration given to the philosophical and theological roots of the BU ethical tradition as well as its social, economic, and political applications. This tradition is based on the belief in a personal God who cares about people, and made each person in the divine image-endowed with inherent value, worth and dignity. This is a central message of the BU ethical tradition, and in the seminar, we will look at is foundations as well as its evolution, and also why that tradition historically was attractive to Black graduate students in theology and social ethics.
  • STH TS 862: Global Ethics in Cultural Contexts
    An in-depth study of distinctive approaches to economic, ethnic, gender and political justice in diverse regions: North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Israel/Palestine. Liberation theology perspectives - African American, Feminist, Womanist, Mujerista, Latin American, Native American, Asian, African, Jewish and Palestinian - will provide bases for developing transcultural social ethics.
  • STH TS 863: Ethical Leadership and African American Moral Traditions
    This seminar is designed to acquaint students with major figures, movements, and issues in black American religious, social, cultural and ethical traditions. The seminar, which focuses heavily on leadership emerging from 19th and 20th century black culture, examines African American leadership from a narrative perspective, utilizing primary and secondary source materials; explores theoretical and practical elements of leadership in specific historical contexts; evaluates competencies traditionally associated with African American leadership practices; and offers a forum for practical engagement with contemporary problems associated with African American life and culture.
  • STH TS 867: Christianity and Ecology in Community Contexts
    A study of Christian and Native American spiritual insights related to ecological perspectives, principles, and practices. Student classroom sessions, research, and analysis will be complemented by field work: engagement with members of faith traditions and environmental organizations in the Boston area. Writings of theologians and ecologists, statements from individual denominations and ecumenical associations, teachings of native elders, and the relationship of the proposed Earth Charter to religious teachings and current ecological issues will be discussed. Economics, ethics, and ecology will be integrated with the evolving School of Theology Green Vision statement, its implementation on campus, and its engagement in projects with community organizations and faith communities off-campus.
  • STH TS 877: The Principles and Practices of Restorative Justice
    A study of the fundamental principles and practices of restorative justice as applicable to church and society. The course explores the needs and roles of key stakeholders (victims, offenders, communities, justice systems), outlines the basic principles and values of restorative justice, introduces some of the primary models of practice, and identifies challenges to restorative justice and strategies to respond to them. The course is organized around the issue of crime and harm within a western legal context, but attention is given to applications in other contexts. Of particular interest is the contribution of traditional or indigenous approaches to justice as well as applications in post-conflict situations.
  • STH TS 889: Sacred Earth: Indigenous Peoples' Ecological Traditions
    A study of indigenous peoples' traditional teachings about the relationship of spirituality, ecology, and community well-being. A particular focus will be the words and works of representative twentieth-century writers and spiritual leaders, and include the life and teachings of Lakota elder Black Elk; Muskogee elder Phillip Deere; Wanapum elder David Sohappy; and Dakota scholar and activist Vine Deloria, Jr.
  • STH TS 893: Spirit, Science, and Space: Cosmoethics
    The discoveries of Copernicus/Galileo and Darwin (19th century) significantly altered scientific and religious worldviews. People experienced a sense of displacement from their previously perceived status in the universe. In the 21st century, as space explorations expand, Contact with extraterrestrial life-- including intelligent life--becomes ever more possible (some people already claim to have had visual or physical contact with UFOs and their alien occupants). Using perspectives from science, science fiction, religion, and United Nations space treaties, and narratives about peoples' claims of encounters with extraterrestrial beings, this course will discuss current and projected understandings of the human place in the cosmos; reflect on how discovery of extraterrestrial life might impact the human sense of place in the universe; and consider how the impacts of ET encounters (actual or theoretical) might be positively incorporated into human consciousness and contexts.
  • STH TS 894: Being Church in the 21st Century: Congregational Clinic
    This course is a teaching-learning laboratory, rooted in Boston University School of Theology's Religion and Conflict Transformation Program, and focused on collaborative teaching and learning in areas of congregational change, conflict, wholeness and healing in the twenty-first century. Rooted in theological and biblical foundations, this course will have a particular emphasis on a relational understanding of congregations, sacraments as core to shalom and reconciliation, the nature of community and naming and dealing with issues of power and authority. This course expects mutual sharing and learning among the various participants.
  • STH TS 896: Religion, Economics, and the Common Good
    A study of the relationship between religion, economics, and societal well-being, particularly as explored in the presentation and critique of a "Protestant ethic." The subsequent integration of political, economic, sociological, and religious insights will provide a foundation for the formulation of community- based and community-oriented social institutions.
  • STH TS 897: Ethics and Public Policy
    The purpose of this course is to help students gain knowledge of and appreciation for the theological, ethical, and socio-analytic dimensions of public policy and how to integrate those elements in their descriptive and prescriptive analyses of specific social problems.
  • STH TS 899: The Continuing Relevance of Aristotle's Ethics and Politics
    This seminar will undertake a close reading and a critical inquiry into Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics in order to discern how his thought can be a helpful resource for the study and practice of ethics and politics in our day.
  • STH TS 903: Models of Community
    TBA
  • STH TS 925: Advanced Ecological Ethics
    An in-depth study of cross-disciplinary, cross-religious, and cross-cultural approaches to ecological issues, oriented toward understanding diverse issues in breadth and depth; and a collaborative, creative development of ecological ethical concepts and principles proposed to inform and be integrated into human consciousness and communities, and implemented in community projects.
  • STH TS 929: Christian Ecological Ethics and Political Issues
    This course will introduce students to the character and dimensions of the ecological crisis and will; to help them reflect theologically and ethically on ecological problems, to develop or enhance their particular faith tradition's theoretical and practical engagement with ecological issues, gain knowledge of the intersection of ecology and economics, and political and public policy implications of this relationship, and to formulate public policy possibilities and practical projects to address and seek to solve ecological problems.
  • STH TS 950: History of the Social Teachings of the Church
    This seminar will explore the development of the social teachings of the Church from the time of Jesus through the 20th century. The works of E. Troeltsch and H.R. Niebuhr will be relied upon, with a focus on the development of the early Christian social teachings, the medieval synthesis, the Reformation era, and especially the rise of urban-industrial capitalism and its impact on the social teachings of the Churches. Special emphasis will be given to the major events of the 19th century such as the abolition of slavery as well as the beginnings of the women's suffrage movement and other dimensions of the liberation of women.
  • STH TS 951: Contemporary Social Teachings for the Christian Church
    An in-depth study of major contemporary social issues, utilizing the works of key Christian social ethicists, as expressed in the Protestant, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic traditions and in theologies of liberation. Issues such as sexuality and human reproduction, war and peace, economic and social justice, racism, gender, social class, and the use/misuse and protection of natural resources, will be viewed through the perspective of different religious traditions. Special emphasis will be placed on ecumenical and interfaith social ethics, the rise and significance of the Christian Right, and development of the tools needed to do social ethics in different social and cultural contexts.
  • STH TS 957: Seminar: the Church and Human Rights
    Philosophical, religious, and social problems of defining human rights and the related ideas of human dignity, justice, and the common good. Special attention to comparative understanding of human rights in Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam, exploring an alternative economic order and society that would serve the human person.
  • STH TS 961: History of Western Ethics and Social Philosophy
    This seminar focuses on the ways Greek philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, Stoics) influenced Christian theology and ethics (Augustine and Aquinas), and how that Christian theological and ethical tradition influenced Luther, Calvin and other Reformers. There will also be a look at the key figures in philosophy (Hume, Kant, Grotius, and others) who shaped modern Western ethics. Emphasis will also be placed on the development of Western social and political philosophy which led to the modern democratic state (Locke, Bentham, J.S. Mill, A. Smith), utilitarianism and cost-benefit analysis, as well as the works of revolutionary thinkers (Nietzsche and Marx) and also the seminal feminist thinkers (C. DePizan, M. Wollstonecraft, H. Taylor). In addition, there will be efforts to explore the social and philosophical roots of the movements that led to the abolition of slavery as well as to the promotion of gender equality. Consideration will be given to the social/political/economic context that influenced the thinking of the writers, as well as a look at some of the readings from a feminist and multicultural standpoint. Particular emphasis will be placed on the relevance of these thinkers in our society. We should be aware of their shortcomings (class, cultural, racial and gender biases), but also be appreciative of their contributions to modern thinking.
  • STH TS 962: Global Ethics in Cultural Contexts
    An in-depth study of distinctive approaches to economic, ethnic, gender and political justice in diverse regions: North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Israel/Palestine. Liberation theology perspectives - African American, Feminist, Womanist, Mujerista, Latin American, Native American, Asian, African, Jewish and Palestinian - will provide bases for developing transcultural social ethics.
  • STH TS 967: Christianity and Ecology in Community Contexts
    A study of Christian and Native American spiritual insights related to ecological perspectives, principles, and practices. Student classroom sessions, research, and analysis will be complemented by field work: engagement with members of faith traditions and environmental organizations in the Boston area. Writings of theologians and ecologists, statements from individual denominations and ecumenical associations, teachings of native elders, and the relationship of the proposed Earth Charter to religious teachings and current ecological issues will be discussed. Economics, ethics, and ecology will be integrated with the evolving School of Theology Green Vision statement, its implementation on campus, and its engagement in projects with community organizations and faith communities off-campus.