REL 638 / Theology of Poverty

Course Overview

This seminar approaches poverty as an intersectingly ethical and theological problem. What kinds of theological questions are raised by confronting the realities of poverty, and how might theological reflection change the way we work against it? By exploring several influential theological perspectives on poverty from the past century, along with several concrete cases of anti-poverty organizing from the recent U.S. context, students will hone their response to the foundational question of Christian social ethics: how do our theological commitments inform and respond to the shape of our lives together?

Course Goals

By the end of the term, students will be able to:

Course Requirements

In this class, students will be required to:

Semester in Outline

This semester is divided into three major parts.

  1. During weeks 1–3, we will consider how to define poverty and how theological reflection might contribute to combatting it.
  2. During weeks 4–8, we will explore several theological themes that 20th-c. theologians have identified as integral to understanding poverty.
  3. During weeks 9–12, we will study several concrete forms of contemporary U.S. anti-poverty organizing in light of their theological resonances.

Books to Buy

You don’t strictly need to buy anything. Everything should be available in PDF or on reserve at the library. But it may be convenient to buy the following books, which we will read more or less in full:

All are available at the bookstore with the exception of Copeland.