The symbol of the Sankofa bird represents a crucial insight from West African culture, to wit, true wisdom come from “looking backward while walking forward,” i.e., that the quest for meaning in human life in the present is actively abetted if we can learn to draw on and creatively reinterpret the best of our communal histories and traditions.
From a very different vantage-point, Christian Ethics, particularly as practiced within the Liberal Protestant Tradition, also seeks to creatively bridge past and present by bringing important insights from scripture, tradition, reason, and experience into conversation with the observations, challenges, and values of postmodern life.
Hence, the kind of ethics taught in this course can be distinguished from some other forms of religious ethics in that it stresses the importance of maintaining profound theological commitments while not diminishing the significance of critical thinking, interpretative engagement (hermeneutics), and moral discernment. To put this more plainly, in a world that often demands black or white responses, the Liberal Protestant Tradition, at its best, seeks to hold revelation in creative tension with reason. This is no easy task.
The format of this course is designed to guide class participants through a general overview of Christian Ethics and introduce basic methods, sources, and tools for understanding and doing ethics. After all, an ethics course that at least attempts to have an impact on how we engage in daily decision-making or treat other people out there in the world, can not be said to be terribly successful.
Throughout this three-week course, class participants will be provided with opportunities to apply what they’ve learned through small group discussion and papers. More specifically, in the final week of the course we will closely examine three recent or contemporary social justice movements and the ethical issues they raise and/or are attempting to redress: Occupy Wall Street (Economic Justice), Black Lives Matter (Racial Justice), and #MeToo (Gender Justice).
Course Prerequisite: Students will need to complete their basic Hebrew Bible and New Testament requirements prior to the start of this course
About the Instructor
Dr. Randall Miller is a former Assistant Professor of Ethics, United Methodist Studies, and Leadership at Pacific School of Religion and currently serves as the Director of the Global Religions Program at the Arcus Foundation, supporting organizations working at the intersection of faith, social change, and inclusion. An avid social justice advocate, Randall has worked for the past twenty-five years in a variety of social justice settings, including philanthropic, academic, religious, and advocacy organizations. Randall received his PhD in Ethics and Social Theory in 2007 from the Graduate Theological Union, with specialties in theories of justice, economic ethics, critical theory, and liberation theologies.
Dates: June 4- 15
Credits: 3 credits, 4 CEUs
Meets requirements for: M.Div; MAST; MTS; Common MA