Graduate Theological Union

Innovative GTU Class Tackles Globalization and Ethics

This year's course "Ecumenical Social Ethics in an Age of Globalization" is exploring a question that touches on one of the GTU's abiding concerns: what is the role of religion in the public sphere, now that most local issues are also global in their import, and most global issues are also local?

Co-taught by SFTS professor emeritus Lewis Mudge and GTU doctoral student Tamara Rodenberg, the course explores the possibility of "faith-based witness to interrelated values such as human rights, economic justice, the reduction of violence, participatory politics and environmental sustainability."

The ecumenical effort to articulate common values, which began in the last quarter of the 19th century, has been a challenging one. Through this course and their accompanying research, the two course leaders aim to discern the next stage of development in ecumenical social ethics, and to establish the GTU within the ongoing conversation.

GTU doctoral student Tamara Rodenberg came to the U.S. from a term of service in Africa, where she worked with the United Church of Christ for five years as a theological educator and a rural development officer in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Through her doctoral work, Rev. Rodenberg hopes to contribute to the growth of an "ecumenical ethic that undergirds the work of the church in matters of social and economic development." She won a GTU Newhall grant to teach this course with Dr. Mudge.

Professor emeritus of SFTS, where he also served as dean, Dr. Mudge has long been involved in ecumenical dialogue through the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches. One of his goals for the course is to help the GTU and its member schools become a center of ecumenical reflection. "The trend today is toward ecumenical research and strategizing in many centers throughout the world, not just Geneva or Rome. The GTU is superbly situated to become globally recognized as one of these centers, if we are willing to work at it. This course helps to do that, but we need other courses and study projects as well."

The course is designed to draw on the resources provided by the GTU's ecumenical and inter-religious community, as well as to nourish that community by providing a place where vigorous and focused ecumenical dialogue can occur. Both doctoral and master's students are participating in the course.

"Ecumenical Social Ethics in an Age of Globalization" also draws on the primary academic resource of the GTU—the consortial faculty. Guest faculty are invited to speak at a number of the classes throughout the year, bringing their expertise and perspectives to bear on the subject. Faculty participating in the class include JSTB's Bill O'Neill; the new director of PAOI, Anton Vrame; Carol Robb from SFTS; CJS Director Naomi Seidman; and PSR's Choan Seng Song.

Course syllabus

This course is supported by a Newhall grant. View other 2002–03 Newhall grants, including the student-faculty teams and their project titles.

The GTU welcomes your gift in support of student scholarship. Click here for a printable gift form, including the option of donations via credit card.

 

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