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?
By the end of the term, students will be able to:
- evaluate different approaches to poverty theologically as well as
- explain and distinguish major approaches to poverty in 20th-c.
- give their own account of the importance of attention to poverty
for theological reflection.
In this class, students will be required to:
- read and annotate 75–100 pages per week;
- keep a class journal responding to each week’s readings;
- write two 1,500-word reading responses exploring a theological theme; and
- write one 3,000-word synthesis reflecting theologically on one form
of anti-poverty organizing.
Semester in Outline
This semester is divided into three major parts.
- During weeks 1–3, we will consider how to define poverty and how
theological reflection might contribute to combatting it.
- During weeks 4–8, we will explore several theological themes that
20th-c. theologians have identified as integral to understanding
- 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.