THE 154: Faith, Justice and the Catholic Tradition This course is designed to introduce students to the values that have shaped the Roman Catholic institution that they have chosen to attend and the ways in which these values are historically grounded in Roman Catholic Doctrine and shaped by its present articulation. It will therefore introduce students to central theological themes and moral claims. It is a course concerned with elemental questions of meaning and action and, as such, seeks to give students skills to understand and analyze the texts and concepts under consideration but also to put these ideas and texts into dialogue with contemporary issues, our lives, and the world. This course will also introduce students to the critical, academic study of religion and to the particular problems that such study entails. Through a critical examination of primary texts, students will investigate the historic grounds of faith and will learn how and why a concern for social, economic and political justice is rooted not only in the Christian Gospel but also in fundamental Christian doctrines and liturgical practices. This is an academic course that requires the student to engage the course material in a critical fashion so as to facilitate mastery of it.

THE 261: Christian Social Ethics — This course provides an introduction to Christian ethics and how the forms and teachings of Christianity impact the broader society. In particular, students will be encouraged to develop analytical and critical thinking skills, as well as reflect on your own processes of moral reflection. Throughout the course, we will think and test our ideas about Christian social ethics through examining the array of questions surrounding various issues in American society.
    The course centers on three key aspects of the moral life. (1) We will study foundational principles in the moral life by examining several theological and philosophical approaches to ethics and moral reflection, including the key issues of social ethics. (2) We will explore the role that story and narrative play in shaping the ethics and morals of both communities and individuals. (3) We will examine some of the questions that arise when we begin to realize that we are not moral machines, but rather human beings who try to live well while growing, changing, and developing in community.

THE 361: Catholic Social Teaching — The Roman Catholic Church says quite a bit about personal moral issues. But Catholicism also has a great deal to say about what a good and just society should look like. This course is an opportunity to explore the Roman Catholic Church’s understanding of the social world and its relationship to it. As a part of these explorations, we will examine such topics as the relationship between church and state, the purpose and nature of work, just wages and economic systems, and the role of lay Catholics. Throughout the course, we will also explore key themes that wind their way throughout Catholic social thought and assess their adequacy in helping us understand the root causes of social ills and envision ways of remedying them. Special attention will be paid to the transitions made in and through the Second Vatican Council. Practically speaking, the course will approach Catholic social teaching through close reading of selected encyclicals, episcopal documents, and conciliar documents. These readings will be filled out with secondary readings that will help students understand key themes and historical context of the documents.

THE 371: Christianity and Media — This course is an opportunity to explore of the relationships between Christianity and the wide variety of modes of communication that we refer to as “media.” In the course, you will engage and two basic tasks. First, you’ll engage in the descriptive task of identifying the current state of the media with respect to religion. How are religions and religious issues portrayed in various media? How do Christians understand and use media for their various purposes? Second, you’ll engage in the normative task of judging the social and moral worth of the media as it is currently configured. Does the current media landscape support human flourishing and the just society? If not, how might it be shaped so that it does?
    The class will examine media such as news, advertising, popular music, narrative film and television, and the internet. Through reading, viewing, and working collaboratively, students will explore these types of media and build their understanding of these issues based on their own interests and questions. Throughout the semester, the class will also read articles on theological and ethical concepts that will help us understand the relationship of media to religious practices, spirituality, and moral action.

THE 372 Technology Ethics — Christianity has had an on-again, off-again relationship with technology throughout history. Technologies have often been deemed “on” or “off” based primarily on a simple estimate of the effectiveness of that particular technology as a tool for winning souls and ensuring faithfulness. Yet, there is more at stake in technology than the state of our immortal souls. Anyone who has been annoyed by someone else’s loud cell phone conversation, frightened by the recall of one’s car, or shocked at the amount of personal and private information that can be found on the web knows that this is true. Technology brings about a great deal of joy and suffering in this life, not just the next.
    This course is designed to engage students in critical reflection on technology, its role in human lives, and its impact on society. The course will focus its reflections on technology and ethics using three overarching sets of questions. First, how should we think about the morality of technology? Are technologies purely instrumental, receiving moral aspect through how they are used, or do they have moral species in and of themselves? Second, what aspects of technology are relevant to assessing its moral use and character? What must be considered when judging the morality of technologies and their use in society? Third, how do particular technologies and technology-using practices influence Christianity? How does life in technological society transform what it might mean to live as a Christian in the 21st century?
    This course will engage the intersection of technology, society, and Christian ethics from three angles. First, the course will examine a variety of ideas of the nature of technology. Second, the course will use the resources available within the discipline of Christian social ethics to assist understanding and evaluation of the moral implications of technology. Third, the course will examine a variety of particular technologies within the broad categories of engineering, communications and information technologies, and biomedical technology. Through these investigations, students will develop informed stances on the ethics of technologies.