Introductory Studies in Catholic Theology: This course introduces students to the methods and content of Christian theology, with particular emphasis on Catholic theological traditions. In addition to theological method, topics may include the scriptures, history of the church and/or theology, the nature of theological discourse, and examination of select topics or issues in theology.
Christian Changemakers: An introduction to the nature and scope of Christian theology, with a special focus on Christians who have created positive social change. We study the works of a select group of writers, thinkers, and activists, all of whom have been significantly shaped by their encounter with Christianity, and have, in turn, created lasting testimonies of significant cultural value because of that encounter. Throughout the semester students engage in self-reflection about their life experiences and core values; in written assignments students explore what it means to create positive social change in our world.
War and Peace in the Catholic Tradition: An examination of the three dominant paradigms for thinking about war and peace in the Christian tradition: holy war, pacifism, and just war. We will consider how these frameworks are employed today in both religious and secular contexts as we apply these frameworks to the evaluation of particular conflicts/issues, which may include: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, humanitarian interventions, the ‘war on terrorism,’ preemptive and preventive war, drones, weapons of mass destruction, and care for veterans. Throughout, students will build skills in ethical analysis and reflexivity.
Reproductive Justice and Catholic Theological Ethics: An exploration of reproductive justice as a theoretical and ethical framework. The course will consider areas of both common ground and conflict between a reproductive justice framework and Catholic theo-ethical principles and teachings.
Sexual Ethics in the Catholic Tradition: An examination of human sexuality from the perspective of the Roman Catholic tradition. After an introduction to Catholic ethical method, the course examines traditional and contemporary understandings of sexuality, gender, sexual orientation, love, and justice. This provides a foundation for consideration of moral norms regarding such issues as marriage, non- marital sex, LGBTQ sexuality, masturbation, pornography, birth control, prostitution, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS.
HIV & AIDS & Christian Ethics: An examination of the intersection of Christian theological ethics and the dilemma of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (hereafter, HIV/AIDS). We begin with an introduction to ethical method in the Christian tradition, an overview of the science of HIV/AIDS, and an overview of the sociological and statistical data pertaining to the global pandemic. From there we have the foundation to discuss a range of ethical issues on the topic of HIV/AIDS. Students will select a topic to explore in further detail in an individual research paper project. Our class format will include lecture, group work (including analysis of case studies), discussion with guest speakers, field trips, and facilitated discussion. In addition to required readings, required films and site visits to community organizations will challenge students to engage the personal stories of HIV-positive and AIDS-diagnosed persons.
Feminist Theology & Ethics: An exploration of contemporary feminist theologies and ethics from the Christian perspective to gain knowledge of feminist contributions and challenges to the whole of Christian traditions. Included is a survey of the historical emergence of feminist theologies, methods, major theological themes, and feminist Christian approaches to contemporary problems (from different contexts and multiple perspectives).
All of the above courses are regularly offered for undergraduate students at the University of San Diego. Courses I have taught for the Spring Hill College Summer Institute of Christian Spirituality include:
June 2017: The Examined Life: Spirituality and Everyday Practice: An examination of Christian spirituality attentive to contemporary realities. We will examine a variety of spiritual practices (pilgrimage, meditation, journaling, examen, rosary, walking, baking, and others) and think concretely about how to best practice the presence of God in everyday life. Attention will be paid to the way in which our spiritual lives grow and change in different life stages.
June 2021: Thea Bowman & M. Shawn Copeland: Black and Catholic, Faithful and Free: This course investigates white supremacy and Black Catholic resistance to it, with the goal of creating space for grief, recognition of bias, and fostering genuine-if-imperfect-solidarity in the ongoing struggle for racial justice. Primary conversation partners are Thea Bowman and M. Shawn Copeland, whose theologies celebrate what it means to be Black and Catholic, Faithful and Free.