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STH TS 500: Encountering ET: Spirit, Science, and Space
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 800: International Conflict and the Ministry of Reconciliation
This course proposes a theology of reconciliation for religious peace-building in the realms of ethnic division and nationalism, race, economic injustice and environmental degradation. Churches and communities of faith are not simply local and parochial bodies but are parts of wider communities of faith and practice. The course explores such corporate practice toward a public theology for the public square for Christians to live faithfully in a world of difference.
STH TS 803: Literature and Ethics
Good ethical conception and practice often demand that we see things from others' points of view. Great novels, plays, poems, and films are good at helping us to reach empathic perceptions of particular people and situations by involving our intellect and emotion. Novels, tragic dramas, and others have the capacity to make readers identify with fictional characters in ways that show possibilities and potential vulnerabilities for themselves. This kind of empathic identification is important for good ethical practice in diverse and pluralistic communities. Narrative works of art are important for developing the human self-understanding critical for embodying certain religious and theological ideals. This course will explore the connections between literature (novels, plays, and short stories) and ethics: the relationship between creative imagination and moral imagination; the nature of moral attention and moral vision; the role of context-specific judging in ethical decisions. The course will help students to deepen and broaden their ethical understanding in ways that involve and give priority to context-specific moral evaluation, compassion, similar possibilities and vulnerabilities, eudaimonistic judgment, rather than abstract general principles for ethical judgment.
STH TS 804: The Religious Thinking of Howard Thurman
This seminar examines the religious and moral dimensions in the thought of Howard Thurman (1899-1981) a leading figure in twentieth century American religious and cultural life. The dream of community, or "the search for common ground," was the defining motif of Thurman's life and thought. His vision of the kinship of all peoples, born out of the particularity of his own personal struggles, propelled him into the Protestant mainstream as a distinctive interpreter of the church's role in a democratic society. He influenced a younger generation of ethical leaders in the modern Civil Rights Movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Pauli Murray, Marian Wright Edelman, Whitney Young, Jesse Jackson, and Vernon Jordan.
STH TS 805: The Spirit and the Art of Conflict Transformation: Creating a Culture of JustPeace
This course is a response to the experience of destructive conflict in the church and in the world, as well as the experience of religion as a source of conflict. More importantly, it is a response to the call to every Christian to be ministers of reconciliation and peacebuilders. The course will introduce students to the theology, theory and practice of faith-based conflict transformation, preparing students to become religious leaders equipped with fundamental tools and skills for engaging conflict and transforming conflict in a way that advances God's goal of shalom, a culture of justpeace.
STH TS 806: Introduction to Mediation Theory and Practice
This course will present theory and practice on mediation through interaction with the instructors, course readings and practical experience. The course utilizes a lecture/discussion format interwoven with role play experience to help students form a strong foundation in the practice of mediation. Students will learn theory as well as practical skills and in the process, they will learn how to engage themselves in an appropriate way in the mediation process. In addition to classroom experience, students will complete an 8 hour practicum in the Barnstable Courts under the supervision of Cape Mediation staff (see details below).
STH TS 807: Transitional Justice and Reconciliation: Healing Collective Wounds
The first half of this course will compare transitional justice processes in the Balkans and Rwanda. The second half of the course will compare reconciliation processes between Indigenous communities, mainline churches, and governments in Australia, Canada and the US, to address one hundred years of child removal, institutionalization and cultural genocide of Indigenous communities. The historical role of the Church as advocate, bystander or perpetrator, will be explored, and more recent forms of public apology, reparations and attempted healing between communities. Students will have an opportunity throughout the course to apply frameworks of transitional justice and reconciliation to their own contexts.
STH TS 808: Spirit and Ethics
This course equips students with necessary skills to address this crucial question from Christian theology and ethics: How does (does not) the Spirit empower religious-ethical life that engenders social transformation of societies? Students will engage with the work of leading social ethicists, theologians, political theorists, continental philosophers, and scholars of religion who are conceptualizing, rethinking, or even resisting the notion of God's Spirit as an agent in history. We will undertake close readings and critical reflections on the creative thoughts of intellectuals influencing and shaping the discourse on Spirit in the twenty-first century. The course will enable participants to radically re-imagine pneumatology and to deploy it as a resource for liberatory praxis and creative moral deliberations necessary for critical engagements with late capitalism, democracy, pluralism, public policies, and structures of domination and oppression in their own communities.
STH TS 811: Economics and Ethics
STH TS 815: God and Money
This course offers philosophical, theological, ethical, and religious study of the nature and role of money in contemporary societies. It is not about stewardship of personal money, but about the peculiar dialectics of the monetary structures and forces that frame existence and actively confront persons, peoples, classes, gender, races, and economies in today's world. It explores various transdisciplinary discourses of money not only to highlight the important role of money in constructing meaning and relationships, but also to uncover the central role of monetary systems in fostering economic inequality and social injustice. This course will shine a bright theological-ethical light on the motion of money in both national and global spheres so as to highlight the serious ethical issues that pertain to the production, circulation, control, and use of money in the structures and organizations of economic life. The class will reflect on how to nudge the structures and organization of monetary life toward creating and maintaining an embracing, inclusive economic community that brings unity-in-difference into perpetual play and also fosters more ethical relationality without stifling its creativity and galvanizing force.
STH TS 816: Postmodern Ethics: Paul and Continental Philosophy
Some of the recent insight-provoking interpretations of Saint Paul's thought have come from non- Christians, especially continental philosophers. Non-Christians and atheists have interpreted Paul's work in ways that have deepened our understanding of politics and social ethics of Christianity and even the legacy of Christian thought on radical philosophy and revolutionary thought. We will, among others, critically engage with the works of French philosophers Alain Badiou and Jean Luc-Nancy, Italian thinker Giorgio Agamben, and Slovenian radical scholar Slavoj ?i?ek, who are some of today's leading interpreters of Paul and his influence on political theology/philosophy, community, messianism, subjectivity, and social transformation. We will also study the works of scholars within the Christian tradition who are picking on some of their radical insights and bringing them into theology, social ethics, and biblical studies. All these new forms of scholarship making provocative proposals about society and political philosophy prompt a re-turn to classical readings of Christian texts in order to strengthen and broaden our knowledge of Christian thought as it applies to transformative praxis. Students will be encouraged to approach their study in this course with some particular social-political problem in mind so as to discern more readily the implications of the new interpretations of Paul's theological thought for dealing with contemporary moral issues.
STH TS 818: Christian Thinking about Moral Decisions
The purpose this course is to analyze critically the following prominent types of Christian thought concerning moral decisions: Christian realism; Christian responsibility/ relationalism/contextualism; Christian moral virtue; Christian pacifism; Christian feminism; Catholic moral tradition; African American Christian tradition; Christian womanism; and the ubiquitous challenge of utilitarianism.
STH TS 822: The Ethical Leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr.
This seminar examines the life, thought, and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a resource for the conceptualization and development of ethical leadership. The seminar will examine his perspective on the public role of religion against the background of contemporary leadership theories and practices, classical Christian views, late nineteenth-century dissenting traditions, the early twentieth-century American Social Gospel Movement, the modern Civil Rights Movement, Black Theology and Black Nationalism, Womanist Studies and Critical Race Theory.
STH TS 828: The Theology and Ethics of African Peoples
Assuming the truth of Aristotle's claim that ethics is the study of moral character the quality of which depends on the communal context in which it is formed, this course will explore writings pertaining to the ethical thought of African peoples living under various conditions of oppression. Those conditions will include slavery, racial segregation and disfranchisement in the United States; colonialism in Africa and the Caribbean; racial apartheid in South Africa. Special attention will be given to the ethical development of women who were oppressed both within and without those cultural contexts. In short, students will discover how men and women formed moral communities and became moral beings by creating various forms of resistance to oppression.
STH TS 829: 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 837: Comparative Religious Ethics
Philosophical and religious perspectives in the meaning of the good life and the good society. Comparative study of social ethics in Christianity and other world religions with particular attention to one or two selected contemporary issues, such as the erosion of community, economic problems, humanity's relationship to the environment, and human rights.
STH TS 840: Seminar in Religion and Social Change
An exploration of the relationship between religion and social change, including the problems of modernization and globalization. Particular attention to the ways in which religion either supports the status quo or promotes social change, involving such problems as fundamentalist and utopian movements in the worldwide and contemporary setting.
STH TS 845: Christian Social Ethics
Comparative study of historical and contemporary Christian approaches to the nature, sources, methods, and concepts of ethics in diverse contexts. The course is in two parts: an historical overview of the development of Christian social ethics from biblical times to the twenty-first century; an in-depth exploration of approaches to specific contemporary social issues including war and peace, ecology, economic justice, and equality.
STH TS 848: Glob Pentecost
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.