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RST-304-20, Christian Social Ethics (SP13)

INSTRUCTOR:  Dr. Brian Berry

SCHEDULE/DAY/TIME:  T2/SAT/8:30-11:15 AM, 04/06/2013-05/18/2013

CONTENT:  This course is an introduction to social ethics from a Christian perspective. Following initial discussion of the context and method of contemporary Christian social ethics, in the first part of the course, we will examine various approaches to Protestant social ethics, including Christian pacifism (Jesus of Nazareth) and Christian realism (Reinhold Niebuhr). In the second part, we will explore various approaches to Catholic social ethics, including  Catholic social thought (Thomas Aquinas) and Catholic social teaching (Pope John Paul II). In the third part, we will then discuss specific issues related to political ethics, including church and politics and war and peace. Finally, in the fourth part, we will consider select issues related to economic ethics, such as economic justice and care for the earth. Special attention will be given throughout to Roman Catholic and Protestant approaches.  

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: This course is designed to enable students to:

  • Understand the sources and method of Christian social ethics.
  • Compare and contrast various major approaches to Christian social ethics, including Christian pacifism, Christian realism, Catholic social thought, and Catholic social teaching.
  • Describe, analyze and criticize a variety of positions that Christian ethicists are taking on a range of contemporary social issues.
  • Express clearly and convincingly, both orally and in writing, their own ethical positions on this same range of issues.
  • Demonstrate a capacity for mature ethical judgments consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition.

METHODS:

  • Guided readings.
  • Writing assignments.
  • Class discussions and lectures.

REQUIREMENTS AND ASSIGNMENTS:

  • Attendance at all classes and active participation (20%).
  • Four essays of 3-4 pages each (40%).
  • A mid-term and final exam (40%).

REQUIRED TEXT(S) OR MATERIALS:

Thomas L. Schubeck, Love that does Justice. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2007. ISBN 9781570757464.

J. Milburn Thompson, Introducing Catholic Social Thought. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2010. ISBN 9781570758621.

James M. Childs and George W. Forrell, eds., Christian Social Teachings: A Reader in Christian Social Ethics. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2013. ISBN 9780800698607.

READINGS AND/OR ASSIGNMENTS TO BE DONE PRIOR TO THE FIRST CLASS:

Schubeck, Love that does Justice, 1-26.

Thompson, Introducing Catholic Social Thought, 1-4.