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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 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: Narrative Power and Interfaith Peacebuilding
This course focuses on gathering, analyzing and drawing insight from the narratives of peacemakers from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions. Students will explore: narrative theology; historic peacebuilding narratives; the art and methods of oral history; and the collection and analysis of contemporary oral histories of interfaith peacebuilders. Drawing wisdom from these several modes of learning, each student will construct a theological and practical contribution to inform future peacebuilding efforts.
STH TS 811: Economics and Ethics
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 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.