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:
- 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.
- We will speak thoughtfully, and in the first person.
- We will address our colleagues in our classroom by name.
- We will own our assumptions, our conclusions, and their
- We will be open to each other’s intellectual growth and change.
- 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
- 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
Laptops, tables, and cell phones may not be used in class. All the
data continues to suggest that we remember better when taking notes
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.
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
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
will work with you confidentially to find a set of accommodations that
will allow you to fully engage in all your courses.
You should familiarize yourself with the standards of academic
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
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.