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Courses in Area VI: Cultures & Contexts
History of Religions
HR 500 Comtemporary World Religions

An introduction to comparative considerations in the study of religious myth, ritual, and community life, as well as to central doctrines and practices of major religious traditions of the world.

Syllabus - Spring 2017, taught by Charles Kimball
HR 570 Perspectives on Religious Pluralism

An inquiry into how various religious traditions view the reality and vitality of other faiths.

HR 650 Native Americans & Christianity

This course explores the contest of cultures between indigenous nations and Euro-American society in the religious arena. A survey of the patterns of conflict and confluence will follow the broad historical outline of developments drawing on social, military, and economic frames and using the tools of anthropology, history, sociology, and religious studies.

Interreligious Understanding & Global Christianity
IU 750 Christian Theologies of Religion

A study of range of contemporary options for a Christian theology of religions; contrasting understandings of global mission, past and present; and critical issues in interreligious dialogue. Prerequisites: PC 500, PC 550, PC 600, and PC 650.

IU 775 Seminar in Interreligious Dialogue

A study of the history of selected interreligious encounters or the dynamics of particular interfaith dialogues in which contemporary Christians participate (e.g., Jewish-Christian, Muslim-Christian, Buddhist-Christian, Hindu-Christian). May be repeated with different topics.

IU 800 Christianity in Latin America

An historical survey from the Spanish Conquest to the present with attention to cultural expressions of religion; church/state relations, especially during the Revolutionary Period; and effects of Vatican II and Protestant missionary activities.

IU 825 Seminar in Global Christianity

A study of the history and current practices of selected Christian communities outside of North America (e.g., Asian Christianity, African Christianity, etc.). May be repeated with different topics.

IU 880 Seminar: Interreligious Understanding & Christian Mission

Advanced study of selected issues. May be repeated with different topics. Prerequisite: all four Portal Courses.

IU 900 Research: Interreligious Understanding & Christian Mission

Advanced individual research on selected issues. Offered on request only to advanced students. Prerequisite: all four Portal Courses.

Interreligious & Cross-cultural Immersion & other Educational Travel Courses
TC 850 Faculty Led Travel Courses

Non-immersion guided study tours led by members of the faculty. Courses include pre-tour educational preparation and post-tour evaluation. Dates, places, and foci of study tours will be announced.

TC 900 Immersion Travel

All course options include pre-tour educational preparation and post-tour evaluation, including but not limited to experiences in Arizona with BorderLinks, a non-profit organization that promotes study of issues on the border between Mexico and the United States and in New Orleans with churches and organizations dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Dates, places, and foci of immersion courses will be announced.

TC 900.01 Immersion Travel: Borderlinks

A study trip that investigates the situation along the border between the United States and Mexico, the only place where the first world meets the third world. This course is offered in cooperation with BorderLinks of Tucson, Arizona. The seminary pays program fees and subsidizes roundtrip airfare, which must be negotiated with airlines each fall. However, students will be responsible for a portion of the transportation expenses. Pre-trip assignments and a post-trip meeting will be arranged. Prerequisite: completion of one portal course.

TC 900.02 Immersion Travel: Nicaragua

This course is an immersion trip to Chacraseca, Nicaragua and includes pre-tour educational preparation and post-tour evaluation and reports.

TC 900.04 Immersion Travel: Ferguson, Missouri

In this course, students will travel to Ferguson, Missouri and accompany community partners to witness and participate in community work around race and racism, state-sanctioned violence, income inequality, and other social issues that local leaders find pressing at the time of the visit. Students will prepare by completing reading assignments that will help them be responsible theological interpreters of what they witness in Ferguson. Prerequisite: Completion of at least one portal course. Satisfies the immersion course requirement.

TC 910 Immersion Travel: Prepare and Process

Why is immersion learning important in theological education? In this course, students will prepare for and process their varied plans and experiences for their Immersion Travel required course with attention to intercultural community, empathy, misunderstandings, culture shock, values conflicts, trust, and communication. Students will construct plans for writing and speaking about immersion learning experiences within current and future ministry contexts. The purpose of this elective course is to support both students who have not yet taken the required Immersion course and students who have already completed the required Immersion course. In addition, students can concurrently enroll in this course and an Immersion Travel course the same semester. No Prerequisites.

Syllabus - Spring 2017, taught by Melinda McGarrah Sharp
Arts & Humanities
AH 500 Biblical Issues & Modern Literature

A study of works of contemporary literature that take up theological concerns either explicitly or implicitly. Special attention will be given to how such themes or theological motifs are developed and function within the works, as well as how such literary texts contribute to contemporary theological reflection.

AH 525 The Bible and Contemporary Issues

This course is designed to provide students with skills that will be useful in their leading congregations/communities in the study and discussion of the bible and the difficult issues confronting people of faith in the 21st century. (e.g., Stem Cell Research, Creationism/Evolution/Intelligent Design, Immigration, Human Sexuality, etc.). Students will gain an appreciation for the influence their particular reading location has on how they interpret texts, and they will begin to develop their own hermeneutical approach for reading/interpreting biblical texts. Through readings and class discussions/lectures, students will struggle with the question of What is ethical biblical interpretation? Students will apply this knowledge and awareness to the examination of some contemporary issues in order to determine a responsible way to apply the bible in difficult ethical discussions and decision-making. Each student will choose one difficult issue to focus on for a final project. Prerequisite: PC 500. Satisfies Culture and Contexts requirement.

AH 550 Theological Themes in the Contemporary Novel

An exploration of how contemporary novels pose theological questions about, and prompt theological reflection upon, human and cultural experience in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. A variety of styles and sub-genres will be considered.

AH 575 Preaching in the Black Church Tradition

A survey course of Black Preaching in its historical, social, and religious context. Attention given to defining within such preaching a specific Black Hermeneutic that explains its unique style, methodology, theology, and contribution to the general practice of preaching. Through special readings, listening, and experiencing Black preaching, students should be able to identify its essential distinguishing characteristics, describe its historical context, and learn to appreciate its socio-theological methodology. No Prerequisites.

AH 600 Theological Issues in Films

A study of how films represent and create an American mythology. Students will learn how to view films critically and interpret their theological and religious significance. They will explore models for understanding the place of electronic media in our culture and theological responses to related issues.

AH 650 Religion & Politics

This course focuses on the presidential election and the midterm elections, which provide a fascinating backdrop for studying the interaction between religious and political discourse in the United States. While attending to the legal separation of church and state, the course will focus on the inevitable and intentional mixing of political and religious interests. In addition, the course will explore several specific theological interpretations of American public life.

AH 750 Research in Religion in the Arts & Humanities

Advanced individual research on selected issues. Offered on request only to advanced students. Satisfies a CC requirement for MDiv or MTS students.

AH 880 Seminar in Religion in the Arts & Humanities

Advanced study in selected issues in Religion, the Arts and the Humanities. May be repeated with different topics.

AH 880.01 The Bible & the Environment

Let them have dominion? The Bible begins with stories about creation that proclaim God as the Ruler of all Creation and describe humanity's role in God's world. What is that role? Does humanity have the right to use nature to our advantage at all costs? Does humanity have a responsibility to take care of God's creation? This class will explore biblical texts that deal with creation, God, and humanity, in order to seek answers to these questions and more.

AH 880.02 Digital Media and the Church

Students will consider how the church can use the tools of the connected culture to reach more people than ever before. From the use of computer graphics in worship to the use of online platforms for religious education, learners will be introduced to the tools and techniques for developing compelling media. Learners will also come to understand the positives and pitfalls of using these tools in ministry settings through reading and research. Learners should have good basic computer skills, a multimedia-capable device (computer, tablet, smartphone) and good Internet skills. Online discussions and quizzes will be a part of the coursework.

AH 880.04 Christianity and Democracy: A Necessary and Tense Relationship

It is common in some parts of the U.S. to question whether or not Islam is compatible with democracy. For Christians, who are much more numerous and influential in the U.S. than Muslims, the more fitting questions are whether or not Christianity is compatible with democracy, as well as asking the reverse: is democracy compatible with Christianity? In everyday public debates in the United States, Christians of many traditions and denominations interact in the public square. Should they bring their faith with them? If so, how should they bring their faith with them? What are the positive and negative consequences for Christianity or for democracy of their dynamic relationship? In this course, students will explore the history of and contemporary options for relating Christianity and democracy in U.S. public life, as well as develop their own normative understanding of what the relationship should be. Satisfies Culture and Contexts requirement. No prerequisites.

AH 880.05 Crucifixion to Crossfit, Martyrdom to Martial Arts: Embodiment in the Christian Imagination

This course will consider different theological answers to the question, What does it mean to have a good body? By theological answers is meant answers with a theological history and theological stakes. The class by no means wishes to restrict itself only to overtly religious models of good embodiment, but rather to look at models of good embodiment that are theologically important... even if they do not announce themselves as such. Student readings and discussions will draw upon clearly theological works from the patristic, medieval, modern, and postmodern worldviews; but students will also be asked to reflect theologically on embodiment in contemporary popular culture, including in their own contexts. The discourses of gender theory, feminist analysis, critical race theory, and masculinity studies will be used as tools of theological analysis. While it is not a class on any of these discourses per se, the course will avail itself of them as they prove useful to the task at hand. No prerequisites.

AH 880.06 Perceptions of the Devi-Ma: Mother-Goddess Figures & Christian Texts

This course focuses on the mother-goddess figures found in both Christian and Hindu texts. We focus on the character of Kali and Sita from the Hindu Scriptures and Mary, Jezebel, and Babylon the Great, the Mother of all mothers from the book of Revelation. Students will learn to critically read and analyze these texts in their historical and social contexts. The goal of this course is to help students engage texts of other religious traditions and construct nuanced interpretations that speak and are relevant to a cross cultural audience. Students will be exposed to feminist and womanist theories, transnational feminism, and post-colonial theory along with gender and sexuality studies in their critical study of these texts. Students will read portions from the Hindu Scriptures as well as the Biblical text.

Syllabus - Summer 2017, taught by Sharon Jacob
AH 880.08 Digital First: Using New Media in Ministry

With the variety of online platforms available for sharing a message, it's becoming more important for ministries to develop strategies for evaluating and using these digital tools. Topics in this course will focus on the use of social media, websites, email, and content creation for promoting congregational and other ministries. Learners will develop marketing strategies, editorial calendars, and content to support those plans. Students in this course will be required to either have or open social media accounts and allow the instructor public-level access.

AH 880.09 Introduction to Native American Religious Beliefs and Practices

This course is an introductory study of Native American religious traditions and spiritual expressions among Native peoples in the United States. Utilizing theories and processes from the sociology of religion, the course explores a variety of themes related to foundational indigenous perspectives around theological concepts, indigenous value systems as expressed in individual and communal contexts, and lived expressions of ritual practice. The course will also examine indigenous forms of Christianity as well as the resistance to Anglo Christian culture expressed in the rise of Native prophets and messianic and revitalization movements. It is impossible to categorize the variety of Native American sacred ways into a single construct known as Native American religions, so the course will focus on certain tribes representing different geographies and historical time periods to examine the diverse experiences of Native peoples.

Syllabus - Fall 2018, taught by Lisa Barnett
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