Social Ethics (SOC)


Old Testament Prophets’ Cry for Justice

Credits: 3

This course examines the Old Testament prophets and their call for social justice. It offers opportunity for an in-depth examination of the prophets’ exhortations and teachings on God’s justice for the Israelite community. Particular attention is given to the Minor Prophets, including Amos, Hosea, and Micah. Reflection on this prophetic literature provides an opportunity to delineate the significance of the prophetic cry for justice for the Church today. This course is cross-listed as BIB 621NE.



Social Policy, Leadership and Community Change

Credits: 3

Creating social justice requires leadership skills and an understanding of the nature of the development of systems change. This course focuses on the history of social change movements, the development of social policy, and the role of the church in promoting justice in society. Students learn to recognize the roles of power and relational dynamics in the development of systemic struggles that ultimately lead to social policy and societal change. Students will have the opportunity to organize and implement a project that utilizes their leadership skills in the area of social justice in a local or larger community setting.



Foundations in Christian Social Ethics

Credits: 3

This course is an introduction to the basic themes in Christian theology as they relate to contemporary social issues and public policy. The course provides a Christian global perspective that relates theology and ethics to ministry and service in the public realm. Topics include a survey of existing justice and moral theories that relate to cultural analysis and ministerial practice. Areas that will be explored include power, government, war, wealth and poverty, gender, and diversity. The goal is to provide students with both theological and ministerial tools to address important social issues in their churches, community, and larger society.



Jesus and the Poor: Biblical Perspectives on Economic Justice

Credits: 3

Howard Thurman’s question, “What, then, is the word of the religion of Jesus to those who stand with their backs against the wall?” is a perennial one. This course begins in the New Testament with a study of Jesus’ relationship with the poor and his sayings regarding poverty, wealth, and discipleship. Topics also include exegeses on key biblical passages regarding economic justice in both the Old and New Testament and an examination of contemporary successes and failures of the local and global Christian church to end economic oppression. The course explores the implications for applying a biblical ethic of justice to individual Christian discipleship and corporate church witness. This course is cross-listed as BIB 642NE. 



Contemporary Ethical Issues       

Credits: 3

This course is designed to help those in, or entering, ministry to understand better their own ethical perspective and apply it to significant ethical questions facing society today. Issues to be covered include: approaches to ethical decision-making (both general and explicitly Christian), bioethical issues (reproductive technology, genetic screening, and physician-assisted suicide), social issues (pornography, sexual harassment), and business issues (job discrimination, capitalism). This course is cross-listed as MIN 649NE. Offered on demand.



Bioethics and Ministry in the 21st Century

Credits: 3

Human cloning is very near. Healthcare rationing is an increasing reality. Comfort care for the dying increasingly hastens death. This course is designed to help those currently in, or entering, ministry to understand better their own ethical perspective (their own general approach to ethical decision-making) and how this perspective applies to bioethical tensions such as those mentioned above. Students will have the opportunity to prepare and present a detailed analysis of an ethical issue they perceive to be of particular social significance. This course is cross-listed as MIN 650NE. Offered on demand.



Violence Against Women—Theological and Social Issues

Credits: 3

This course addresses the problem of violence against women from a Christian theological perspective. Violence against women is defined in both legal and spiritual language that provides a description of the problem and a framework for addressing this important issue. The course will provide an analysis of current theories and practices. Topics include violence against women as an international human rights issue, the responsibility of the Church in its prophetic role to provide a response, and exploring the biblical basis for addressing this issue.



The Ethics of War and Peace

Credits: 3

This course surveys the development of Christian theological and ethical perspectives on just war theory and pacifism from the biblical period to the present day. Attention will be given to the crusades, the two world wars, and the unconventional warfare in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Students will examine the perspectives of their own denomination or faith group and apply their findings to one of the above wars. Finally, students will examine the meaning of conscientious objection and grounds for its approval in the military. Consideration will be given throughout the course to the formation of personal conscience in light of Christian traditions and in the context of responsible citizenship. Offered on demand.



MATSJ Integration Seminar

Credits: 2

This course is designed to serve as the capstone for the M. A. in Theology and Social Justice degree program.  The goals are for students to review their learning experiences including all course requirements, electives, internship, policy conference research, and spiritual formation activities.  Student reflections and analysis are integrated into the preparation of a professional portfolio and social justice church mission plan.  This course provides an opportunity to demonstrate expertise in the areas of leadership and social policy development, understanding of the intersections of Christian spirituality and biblical theology for the work of justice building, and shaping creative strategies for impacting current social concerns both on the local and global level.



Independent Study in Social Ethics

Credits: 1—3

Under the guidance of a professor, the student pursues independent research in a specific social ethics topic.

[Prerequisite: advisor and instructor approval required and a GPA of 3.0]



M.A. Thesis in Social Ethics

Credits: 3

This course is a research option for M.A. students in the field of social ethics. Students wishing to pursue thesis work must file a written petition with academic services formally requesting this degree completion method prior to registering for the course. (Students who have not completed the thesis project by the end of the semester will automatically be registered for RES 799NE-Continuation of Registration for Master’s Thesis, and charged a $250 fee every subsequent semester until the completion of the master’s thesis.)



Life, Theology, and Ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Credits: 3

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a significant 20th century theologian, pastor, prophet, and martyr. This course examines Bonhoeffer’s response to Nazism from a historical and theological perspective. The primary areas of study include: a description and analysis of Bonhoeffer’s hermeneutic and ethical reflections on the significance of his call to discipleship and on his perennial question, “Who is Christ for us today?” His spirituality will also be discussed as a foundation for His ethics. Readings include Cost of Discipleship; Ethics; Letters and Papers from Prison and other selected writings representing Bonhoeffer’s theology and ethics. This course is cross-listed as THE 732NE.



Social Policy Conference

Credits: 3

This course provides students with an opportunity to put into practice their knowledge, and skills as a social change practitioner.  Students will identify one topic that has spiritual, social and communal relevance for those who have been socially, economically, and/or politically marginalized.  Subjects for study may include any contemporary social concern. Students will become a task force that studies the identified subject, plans a strategy to create social change and then works together to implement this change.  They will work to create change in social policy on both a local and State level. Their expertise and practice strategies will be presented at the BT Roberts Symposium that takes place biennially in the spring semester.