REL 617 / Theology, Gender, & Violence

Class Policies

Class Discussion

Some of the material we will be dealing this semester will be emotionally and psychologically difficult for some students. If you ever feel the need to step out of class, you may do so without academic penalty. You will still be responsible for any material you miss, however, so please make arrangements to see me individually if you leave the room for any significant amount of time. In general, I welcome discussion about your personal reactions to the material as an appropriate part of our coursework.

It will also be important to be sensitive to the way our individual contributions to class discussions affect those around us. I therefore ask you to adopt the following guidelines during our time together:

  1. We will listen to one another patiently and carefully, assuming that each one of us is always doing the best that she or he can. And because we assume this about each other, each of us will do the best that we can.
  2. We will speak thoughtfully, and in the first person.
  3. We will address our colleagues in our classroom by name.
  4. We will own our assumptions, our conclusions, and their implications.
  5. We will be open to each other’s intellectual growth and change.
  6. We will not blame each other for the misinformation we have been taught and/or have absorbed, but we will hold each other accountable for repeating misinformation after we have learned otherwise.
  7. We will combat stereotypes actively and conscientiously so that we can help eradicate the biases that prevent us from envisioning and realizing the well-being of all.

Attendance and Participation

The semester is short and discussion is paramount for our work together, so you are expected to be present and active in every class session. Unexcused absences will result in the automatic loss of a half-letter grade (e.g., from an H to an H-, or from an H- to an HP+). Participation is not a formal part of your grade, but is expected and will be taken into account when considering borderline final marks.

Personal Electronics

Laptops, tables, and cell phones may not be used in class. All the data continues to suggest that we remember better when taking notes by hand, and taking computers off the table makes it much easier to cultivate the friendships necessary to make our conversations fruitful. If you have special circumstances that require the use of a computer, please see me about it early in the semester.

Overdue Assignments

I will accept late writing assignments, since part of the goal is simply to provide you an opportunity to synthesize the material we’ve dealt with in class. But since the other part of the goal is to prepare you for class discussion, it will be impossible to receive full marks for a late assignment. Late journal entries will not be able to achieve more than a check- minus, and late community reflections will start from a maximum possible grade of an H-. I will grant exceptions for personal emergencies, or for students who speak to me at least one week prior to the due date about an expected late assignment.


If you have a disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please come see me early in the semester or as soon as you become aware of your need. If you have not yet done so, you will first need to speak with someone in the Resource Office on Disabilities. They will work with you confidentially to find a set of accommodations that will allow you to fully engage in all your courses.

Academic Integrity

You should familiarize yourself with the standards of academic integrity YDS expects its students to uphold. Violations of those standards, whether intentional or inadvertent, will be reported to the Dean’s office and dealt with strictly.

Inclusive Language

I expect you always to use inclusive language when you are discussing human beings. That is, say “people” instead of “men,” “he or she” instead of just “he,” “brothers and sisters” instead of just “brothers,” and so on. At this point, this is a matter of basic English: the masculine no longer functions as a universal descriptor.

When talking about God, you may use whatever pronouns or images you prefer. During class discussions, always strive to be aware of how your choice of language will come across to your classmates, who may be in a different situation, have different commitments, or stand in different relations to the material than you do.

Because we will explicitly address the issue of gendered language for God in this course, you should be prepared to be open and articulate about your reasons for speaking the way you do. You are free to speak as you choose, but your decisions will not be beyond critique.