Fall 2013

2014 - 2015 Courses - Fall Semester

See Summer 2014 Courses for Summer courses, August intensives, and Symposium.

Registration Dates for Fall 2014

Instruction begins September 2, 2014.

How to Register

To register for a course if you are not in a degree program at Starr King or the GTU, please see "How to Register for a Starr King Course".

Students enrolled in a degree program at Starr King School (or any other Graduate Theological Union school) should follow the registration processes outlined by their school’s registrar.  Starr King’s processes are listed in the Starr King Student Handbook .

Starr King Tuition and Course Fees.

Fall 2014 Online, Residential, and Immersion Courses

Online Courses 

Mysticism & Social Change
Liza Rankow
This course will explore the powerful synergy between mystic spirituality and social activism. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit.” In the urgent and troubling context of current world events, we will look to the example of “mystic-activists” from diverse cultures and faith traditions for inspiration. Readings and class explorations will include Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Indigenous sources. Through a wholistic approach of both head and heart, we will consider specific tools and practices to nourish and sustain us in our ongoing commitment to anti-oppression work and ministerial service. / Rev. Dr. Liza J. Rankow is an interfaith minister and the founding director of OneLife Institute, an Oakland, CA-based nonprofit organization working at the intersection of spirituality and social action. She is a popular speaker and teacher known for bringing compassion, creativity, and insight to the process of individual and cultural healing and transformation. Liza has provided counseling and offered classes and workshops in spiritual development for over 20 years. As a scholar and activist, her main interest is exploring the powerful synergy between mysticism and social change. She maintains a special emphasis in the life and work of Dr. Howard Thurman, teaching a variety of classes on Thurman in both academic and community settings.
RSSP-8410          3 Units       
Minimum 4       Limit 15             PIN Required: Yes
Click for Syllabus

Global Religious Traditions
Cassie Lipowitz
This course will examine the major global religions from a cross-cultural, multi-religious perspective. Taking into consideration that a course that explores many religions cannot be comprehensive, we will consider the religions from a thematic perspective by analyzing fundamental beliefs and practices in the various religious traditions. In addition, we will also examine assumptions underlying the discipline of religious studies. Students will engage through weekly readings and forum discussion, as well as other interactive learning activities, as part of the online learning community. Students of all faiths and backgrounds are invited and encouraged to enroll. / Cassie Lipowitz is a doctoral student at the Graduate Theological Union in the Area of Cultural and Historical Studies of Religions. Her primary research interests lie in the field of Islamic mysticism, with a specific focus on the Masnavi, a text composed by the 13th century Sufi poet Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi. Several years ago, she had the privilege of co-teaching a course on Rumi's Masnavi at Starr King School for the Ministry with Dr. Ibrahim Farajajé. Currently, she teaches Religions of the World, Introduction to Islam, and Women's Spirituality at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA.
HR-8401          3 Units       
Minimum 5       Limit 20             PIN Required: No
Click for Syllabus

Ethics in Movies
Gabriella Lettini
This course provides a general introduction to key ethical theories and methodologies as they are embodied in selected movies. Through narratives, images and sound, movies embody the complex, implicit and explicit values and decision-making processes that are part of the lives of individuals and communities. They are also the expressions of particular worldviews and the fruit of complex artistic, technical and economic decisions with deep ethical implications. The movies chosen will focus on the interconnection of issues such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexualities, colonialism, class, economics, abilities, and religious and cultural diversity. Movies from underrepresented minorities and international movies will be preferred. The use of movies in community settings for theological and ethical reflection and grassroots activism will also be explored. Readings from the fields of ethics, theology and film studies. Class limited to 15 people: please write to instructor introducing yourself and motivating your reasons for taking the class. This online class is fully asynchronous. / Click to see bio for The Rev. Dr. Gabriella Lettini.
CERA-8422          3 Units       
Minimum 1       Limit 15             PIN Required: Yes
Syllabus forthcoming

Intro to Systems Thinking
Devorah Greenstein
This is an introductory course in “systems thinking,” a leadership model that recognizes that people, structures, and processes interact within organizational systems to foster organizational health. Wherever your ministry takes you: serving a congregation; working as a hospital chaplain; supervising volunteers in a voter registration drive; even living in an Occupy encampment, knowledge about systems thinking offers you tools to respond appropriately to the needs of the system in which you find yourself. Our study of congregations and other organizations will be rooted in anti-oppressive understandings of the interconnections of systems and ethnicity, class, gender, age, and disability. Our work will also take us into uncharted territory to explore systems thinking in relation to social media and non-hierarchical organizational systems. This class has been designed to meet Unitarian Universalist fellowship requirements, but all are welcome. / The Rev. Dr. Devorah Greenstein retired from eight years leading the Office of Accessibility Concerns at the UUA, and continues her community ministry working with, and on behalf of, people from historically marginalized communities. Her educational training (M.Div. from Starr King School for the Ministry; M.S. degree from Cornell University in Family Studies; M.S. degree from Syracuse University in Counseling; Ph.D. from Cornell University in Developmental Psychology) has given her contextual and theoretical perspectives in which she grounds her anti-oppression work. Her work includes educating and developing resources for religious professionals, lay leaders, and other individuals and groups engaged in anti-oppressive, multicultural transformation work to confront institutional and cultural ageism, ableism, racism, classism, and heterosexism.
RS-8400          3 Units       
Minimum 6       Limit 20             PIN Required: No
Click for Syllabus

Illness, Health & Healing
Christine Fry

Illness is both soul-shaking and soul-evoking for the patient and for all others for whom the patient matters. We lose an innocence, we know vulnerability, we are no longer who we were before this event, and we will never be the same. We are in uncharted terrain, and there is no turning back. Illness is a profound soul event, and yet this is virtually ignored and unaddressed.
~Jean Shinoda Bolen, Close to the Bone

Illness, Health & Healing is a two-semester on-line course in which students (1) listen deeply to the voices of the ill and their caregivers; (2) explore ways of fostering health and healing in their congregations and communities; and (3) develop practices to aid in their own healing and well-being. During the Fall of 2014 students will focus on poetry, illness and pastoral care. Students will work with healing stories, both contemporary and ancient, from a multi-religious perspective, and craft their own. They will develop and/or deepen their pastoral skills and personal spiritual practices through weekly exercises. / The Reverend Christine Fry is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and SKSM ('96) graduate. An Adjunct Faculty member at SKSM for more than seven years, Chris has taught courses on poetry, illness, and pastoral care; health and healing, forgiveness; compassion and moral repair; and religious education. In addition to teaching, Chris facilitates "Write for Health" groups, the latest incarnation of a 20+ year writing ministry. She lives in Davis, California with her husband, Isao Fujimoto, professor emeritus at U.C. Davis and a long-time community activist. Their daughter, Esumi, is a junior at New York University.
PS-8450          1.5 Units       
Minimum 8       Limit 24             PIN Required: No
Click for Syllabus

Dynamic Youth Ministry
Megan Dowdell & Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward
This lively and interactive course grounds participants in philosophical, psychological, programmatic, ethical and theological aspects of youth ministry. Geared particularly toward Unitarian Universalists, this course seeks to embody a vision of youth ministry that is a vibrant, robust, and flexible part of every congregation. Topics of instruction include leadership and spiritual development, professional support for youth advisors, denominational polity, adolescent life issues, building intergenerational community, and a critical analysis of different models of youth ministry and programming. Recommended for all religious leaders, both new and old to youth ministry. / BettyJeanne Rueters-Ward is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist and most recently served as the full-time Youth and Young Adult Program Coordinator at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock. She is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Social Change at Starr King. As a Youth Programs Specialist for the Unitarian Universalist Association, Betty Jeanne coordinated international conferences, trainings and social justice initiatives. She has also served as a youth advisor at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, as a youth mentor for OutLoud Radio, and with youth clients at Carroll Center for the Blind. / Megan Dowdell, GTU MA ’09, teaches courses in ethics and youth ministry as a regular adjunct faculty member. She is a UU ministerial candidate and doctoral student in sociology at UCSF. Whether on-line or in-person, Megan offers a warm invitation to academically rigorous subject matter for religious professionals, scholars and activists.
EDFT-8462          3 Units       
Minimum 1       Limit 20             PIN Required: No
Click for Syllabus

Promised Lands and Immigrants
Hugo Cordova Quero
This online course will focus on the cases of Latina/o immigrants in the United States and Japan in relation to their experiences of faith, ethnicity and gender. The approach is interdisciplinary as we will draw from several fields for the analysis of the class topics. The goal of the course is to provide grounds for students to acquire tools for understanding the different realities of immigrants. Issues of faith, race/ethnicity, gender and migration will be constantly connected to pastoral reflection throughout the course, especially since our world is increasingly becoming multicultural, multiethnic and multi-religious. / Hugo Córdova Quero holds a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the Graduate Theological Union, with major course work taken at the Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California at Berkeley. Currently he is adjunct faculty at Starr King School for the Ministry, Graduate Theological Union and instructor at GEMRIP/Universidad del Centro Educativo Latinoamericano (UCEL) in Buenos Aires/Rosario, Argentina. His areas of research are religious studies and queer theologies, ethnic and migration studies, and critical theories (feminist, queer, and postcolonial).
RSHR-8427          3 Units       
Minimum 5       Limit 20             PIN Required: No
Click for Syllabus

SKSM and Institute of Buddhist Studies: Our Co-Sponsored Courses
During Fall 2014, the Institute of Buddhist Studies will offer the following courses. Please note ~ we participate in the same GTU registration periods. To register for an IBS course, follow the same instructions as registering for a Starr King course. See How to Register. Most, but not all, IBS courses do not require a PIN, so pay close attention when registering. IBS Fall 2014 Online Course listings are here.

  • Topics in Japanese Religion: Buddhism and Shinto in Japanese History, Grumbach

  • Readings in Early Buddhist Texts: Middle Length Discourse, Fronsdal

  • Critical Historiography of Buddhism, Amstutz

Again, the Institute of Buddhist Studies and Starr King School have different requirements for registration. For example, SKSM does not accept auditors. Although sponsored by SKSM, IBS courses follow IBS rules. Please check course descriptions carefully before registering.

Online | Immersion | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday |
Friday | Saturday | Field Education & Thesis/Final Project


Immersion Courses Fall 2014

Rumi Immersion
Ibrahim Farajajé
December 7th-20th, 2014          Time: TBD

Every year, Sufis from around the world gather for the annual celebration of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi's death.  Concerts, symposia, lectures, sema (ceremony of the whirling dervishes), dhikrs (Sufi ceremony of Divine Remembrance), etc. take place throughout the day and late into the night.  Rumi Immersion students will participate in sessions focusing on the study of Rumi; Islam in Turkey; dance and music in spiritual practice, etc... There will be opportunities to meet with members of Jewish, Eastern Orthodox and Muslim Sufi communities in Istanbul and Konya.  Preparatory readings and videos will be required ahead of time.  The group will maintain a blog with video throughout the trip so that other members of the community can experience this.  Students must arrange to finish the work for their fall semester courses prior to their travels.  Students are responsible for securing their own passports, and arrange for appropriate visa requirements to Turkey from your country of citizenship.  In addition to tuition, the estimated additional costs will include airfare (secured by the student), plus ca. $2,500 for room, board and transfers within Turkey.  For more information, email Prof Dr Ibrahim Farajajé at ifarajaje@sksm.edu.
Syllabus for this course

IMMERSION DATES: DECEMBER 7th-20th, 2014 (approximately)
HRRA 4802                                        3 Units
Minimum 8 Limit 15                           Pin Required: No

Online | Immersion | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday |
Friday | Saturday | Field Education & Thesis/Final Project

Residential Courses


Sufi Dhikr Remembrance of the Divine
Yassir Chadly
Monday 2:10pm-5:00pm

“If you remember Me, I will remember You” ~Qur’an 2:152~

Throughout the world Sufism is identified as the mystical dimension of Islam emphasizing the student's journey towards higher states of consciousness and unity with The Divine. Just as the surfer becomes one with the wave so does the human heart become one with The Eternal through the practice of Dhikr, remembrance of The Divine.

In this experiential course students will explore the many facets of Dhikr, including chanting, prayer, meditation, Qur’anic recitation, movement, and music. Sufi communities, or “tariqas,” are found throughout the world and vary from country to country. This course will touch upon many different traditions and focus primarily on the Naqshbandi tradition from Dagistan.

Students interested in taking this class are required to have either taken the course Intro to Islam or to have a working knowledge of Islam.

Syllabus for this course

HRHM 4817                                       3 Units
Minimum 8 Limit 15                           Pin Required: No
Fireside Room

Online | Immersion | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday |
Friday | Saturday | Field Education & Thesis/Final Project


Troubling Parables For Today
Dorsey Blake
Tuesday 2:10pm-5:00pm

Clarence Jordan was a scientific farmer and Christian Scriptures Greek scholar. In 1942, he founded Koinonia Farm, an experiment in interracial living, in Americus Georgia. Such audacious living was based upon Jordan’s understanding of the demands of Jesus.  Utilizing Clarence Jordan's Cotton Patch Version of the Scriptures, the class will examine how to read the parables of Jesus in the context of today. Jordan's parables were written during a time of great racial division and conflict. How do we re-contextualize the revolutionary message of Jesus to empower today's needs and insurrections? Who are the players today? The course is particularly relevant for preachers, religious educators, and leaders of secular movements.

Syllabus for this course

SPRS 4260                                          3 Units
Minimum 1 Limit 13                           Pin Required: No
Fireside Room


Wading in Troubled Waters: Music, Spirit, and Community in the African Diaspora
Hassaun Jones-Bey
Tuesday 6:00pm-8:30pm

The “Negro Spirituals” grew out of a people’s determination to build beloved community and assert the divine spirit of their humanity under brutally dehumanizing conditions. In doing so, these people also breathed new life into a religious tradition that had been de-spiritualized by the debauchery and greed of their oppressors. These same enslaved Africans also launched a renaissance of arts and culture in the dominant society that still continues, centuries later. Similarly powerful assertions of music, spirit, and community can be observed throughout the worldwide African Diaspora, and traced to deep and ancient roots on the African continent. This Sankofa workshop looks back at such cross-generational movements of “grass-roots” social and spiritual change to retrieve time-tested conceptual frameworks for wading in the troubled waters of today, such as school-to-prison pipelines in communities of color, which seem to flow from sources similar to those addressed in the Spirituals.

Syllabus for this course

HSRA 4050                                        3 Units
Minimum 1 Limit 15                           Pin Required: No
Fireside Room

Online | Immersion | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday |
Friday | Saturday | Field Education & Thesis/Final Project


Unitarian Universalist History Through Literature and Art
Susan Ritchie
Wednesday 9:40am-12:30pm

This is a regular survey course in Unitarian Universalist history, with the exception that our texts will be primary literary and artistic sources. We begin with development of Unitarianism in Poland, Transylvania, and England, then on to that of North American Unitarianism through its classical age, the Transcendentalist development, and the various crises of identity and purpose that develop into and through the late 19th and 20th centuries. Then we turn our attention to Universalist ascendency, decline, and then consolidation with Unitarianism.  Readings include Hungarian playwrights, the work of novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, stories from Universalist sponsored literary magazines for young women working in 19th century factories, as well as the more obvious suspects (Locke, Hawthorne, Emerson, Alcott).   The art of the American Romantic period as well as U, U, and UU trends in architecture will be highlighted.  Students may attend remotely via the Fuze web conferencing platform.

Syllabus for this course.

HRHS 4812                                        3 Units
Minimum 5 Limit 25                           Pin Required: No
Fireside Room


The Electronic Pulpit: Speaking the Voice of the People through Media Activism
Dennis Bernstein
Wednesday 7:10pm-9:40pm

This course is designed to impart the fundamental journalistic and production skills of media activism as a tool for political transformation:  to break corporate control of information, to give voice to the voiceless, and to organize for social change.

Students will learn skills in technical production, the art and science of interview journalism, the power of language & art to bear witness, as well as the history, philosophy, strategies, and the power of alternative media to shape current affairs.

Live interviews with key working journalists, as well as extensive case study and historical context will be presented. 

Students will also collaboratively create and produce in-depth/interview stories (of varying lengths) for a weekly radio news magazine, some of which will be broadcast on the Daily Newsmagazine Flashpoints on KPFA Radio.

Students will be expected to make several studio visits to KPFA to study production in practice.  Access to a 3G/4G phone will also be necessary. 

Syllabus for this course

IDS 4201                                            3 Units
Minimum 6 Limit 15                           Pin Required: No
Fireside Room

Online | Immersion | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday |
Friday | Saturday | Field Education & Thesis/Final Project


Introduction to Liberal Religious Education
Sheri Prud’homme
Thursday 9:30am-12:30pm

This course provides a broad introduction to the theory and practice of liberal religious education, with an emphasis on Unitarian Universalist congregations. Students of all religious traditions are welcome. Topics include an overview of the history and philosophy of UU religious education, teaching methods and learning processes, theories of human development, the congregation as an educating community, current approaches and innovations in religious education for all ages, collegial relationships and professional standards for religious educators, and curriculum resources. Coursework includes a field placement (approximately three times a month) in a local congregation’s religious education ministry, weekly journaling, two reflection papers, responsibility for leading class openings and discussions, and a final project of significance to the student’s future ministry.

Syllabus for this course

ED 4084                                              3 Units
Minimum 3 Limit 18                           Pin Required: No
Fireside Room


Advanced Prophetic Preaching
Kurt Kuhwald
Thursday 2:10pm-5:00pm

Course is for students wanting to equip themselves to address the critical issues of our time. It will focus on the prophetic sermon within liberal religious contexts. The content of student sermons will concentrate on our current global unraveling/revolution. Realistic assessment of the cascading crises and active hope grounded in sustaining and resilient theology-cosmology will be our guiding ethos. Readings on the multiple dimensions of global unraveling/revolution, as well on preaching will form the textual base of study.

Syllabus for this course

HM 4081                                             3 Units
Minimum 4 Limit 10                           Pin Required: Yes
Fireside Room


Community Internship Integrative Reflection Seminar Fall
Dorsey Blake
Thursday 4:00pm-5:30pm

All SKSM students involved in community internships will meet together for reflection on their work, as it is only through the processes of theological reflection and critical reflection on experience that field work becomes field education. This class includes readings, discussions and writings and is designed to broaden and to deepen students' analytic perspective on their field site contexts and on their roles as religious leaders and professionals. Students will be grow in their ability to think and learn in a praxis oriented way, that is, allowing situations of practice to deepen and challenge their academic knowledge about theo/alogies, and allowing their academic knowledge of theology to deepen and challenge their practice of leadership. In field-based experiences the depth of students’ learning depends entirely upon how well they can implement praxis oriented learning.

Syllabus for this course

FE 4222                                              2 Units
Minimum 1 Limit 25                           Pin Required: No
Reading Room

Online | Immersion | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday |
Friday | Saturday | Field Education & Thesis/Final Project


No courses scheduled to meet on Friday.


No courses scheduled to meet on Saturday.

Online | Immersion | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday |
Friday | Saturday | Field Education & Thesis/Final Project

Field Education & Thesis/Final Project 


MASC Project Fall
Gabriella Lettini

For SKSM Master of Arts in Social Change (MASC) students only.  MASC students can split this course over two semesters or sign up for it during their last semester.  This final project can take a variety of forms and should be representative of the student’s learning and creative work in the MASC degree. Projects include research thesis, public presentations, designing and implementing educational curricula, organizing local/national conferences and special events, multimedia art-work, writing a book and more.  The thesis topic, proposal and final draft need to be discussed and developed with the faculty. The project can have a public presentation. A total of 3 MASC Project credits are required for graduation in the MASC degree. Please discuss with instructor.
MA 5300                                  1-3 Units
Minimum 1 Limit 15                PIN Required: Yes


Clinical Pastoral Education Fall
Gabriella Lettini

This course is for Starr King students engaged in part-time or full-time Clinical Pastoral Education.  Participate in ministry to persons, and in individual group reflection upon that ministry. Theoretical material from theology, the behavioral sciences, and pastoral care.  Integrates theological understanding and knowledge of behavioral science into pastoral functioning.  Upon completion, a written evaluation from the program supervisor will be placed into the student's permanent files.  Discuss first with your advisor and then faculty. Final evaluation from CPE supervisor needs to be sent to faculty by the last day of the semester to receive credit. Every year SKSM offers an orientation to CPE and to the application process; students are responsible for applying and securing a place in a CPE program. Please check the SKSM Student Handbook for more information.

FE 4012                                  1-10 Units          
Minimum 1 Limit 30               PIN Required: No

Community Field Work Fall
Gabriella Lettini

Field work describes an involvement in community work for up to 15 hours a week with the ongoing support of a mentor. Community Field Work includes work in gender, racial and economic justice, queer activism, disability advocacy, immigration issues, environmental responsibility, civil liberties protection, HIV response, youth at risk, peace building, participating in a fundraising campaign for a non for profit or grassroots organization, chaplaincy, teaching and more. Students should discuss the field work opportunity with their advisor before making arrangements with the professor.  Student and community mentor should discuss and sign a learning agreement before the official beginning of the field work experience. Midterm and final student/mentor evaluations will also be required by midterm and the last day of SKSM classes. All forms available from the professor at the beginning of the semester and on the SKSM Website.  Please see Student Handbook for more information.

FE 4060                                  0.5-5 Units          
Minimum 1 Limit 30               PIN Required: Yes

Community Internship Fall
Gabriella Lettini

Community Internships involve engagement at a field site from 16 to 40 hours a week, under weekly supervision at the site and the support of the SKSM Community Intern Reflection class (an integrative seminar). Community Internships include a variety of settings, such as supervised placements in a non-profit service agency or grassroots organization, hospice work, chaplaincy, teaching and more. They can also entail creating new projects such as starting a new organization or planning a national conference with a board of mentors. Those who register for this course should also register for Community Intern Integrative Reflection Fall. Students should discuss the internship with their advisor before making arrangements with the professor.  Student and supervisor/mentors should discuss and sign a learning agreement before the official beginning of the internship. Midterm and final student/supervisor evaluations will also be required by midterm and the last day of SKSM classes. All forms available from the professor at the beginning of the semester and SKSM Website. Please see Student Handbook for more information.

FE 4220                                  5-10 Units          
Minimum 1 Limit 30               PIN Required: Yes

Congregational Fieldwork Fall
Kurt Kuhwald

Fieldwork in Unitarian Universalist congregations may include teaching a religious education class for children or adults, working with a youth group, participating in a stewardship campaign and/or more. Please arrange with the professor.

FE 4050                                  1-5 Units          
Minimum 1 Limit 5                 PIN Required: No

Parish Internship Fall
Kurt Kuhwald

This is a 9 month full-time (one year) or an 18 month part-time (two year) experience in a teaching congregation under the supervision of a Minister in final Fellowship with the UUA, an intern committee, and a professor at the school. Those who register for this course must also register for Parish Intern Reflection Spring.

FE 4210                                  5-10 Units          
Minimum 1 Limit 15               PIN Required: No

Parish Intern Reflection Fall
Kurt Kuhwald

All Starr King students serving as ministerial interns in Unitarian Universalist congregations are expected to participate in regularly scheduled times of reflection on their ministerial work and the work of their intern colleagues.  Participation in a two day gathering of interns and teaching ministers at the School is essential.

FE 4212                                  2 Units          
Minimum 1 Limit 15               PIN Required: No

Online | Immersion | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday |
Friday | Saturday | Field Education & Thesis/Final Project

Summer / Fall / Intersession / Spring





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