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RST-304-20, Christian Social Ethics (SP15)

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Brian Berry

SCHEDULE/DAY/TIME: T1/Saturday/8:30-11:15 AM, 01/31/2015 – 03/21/2015

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 explore various contemporary approaches to fundamental Christian social ethics, including the Christian pacifism of John Howard Yoder, the Christian realism of Reinhold Niebuhr, and the Catholic social teaching of Pope John Paul II. Then, in the second part of the course, we will discuss a range of issues in applied Christian social ethics, including church and state, war and peace, economic justice, and environmental responsibility. Special attention will be given throughout to both Roman Catholic and Protestant approaches.  

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

1. Understand the sources and method of Christian social ethics.

2. Compare and contrast various major approaches to Christian social ethics, including Christian pacifism, Christian realism, and Catholic social teaching.

3. Describe, analyze, and criticize a variety of positions that Christian ethicists are taking on a range of contemporary social issues.

4. Express clearly and convincingly, both orally and in writing, their own ethical positions on this same range of issues.

5. Demonstrate higher level critical thinking skills through the process of gathering, selecting, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, and applying information and knowledge.

6. Demonstrate a capacity for mature ethical judgments consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition.

METHODS:

1. Guided readings.

2. Writing assignments.

3. Class discussions and lectures.

REQUIREMENTS AND ASSIGNMENTS:

1. Attendance at all classes and active participation (10%).

2. Four essays of 3-4 pages each (60%).

3. A final exam (30%).

REQUIRED TEXT(S) OR MATERIALS:

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

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

3. James M. Childs and George W. Forell, 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.

-Childs and Forell, eds., Christian Social Teachings, xiii-xiv.