Intersession 2011-2012

2011-2012 Intersession Intensive & Immersion Courses

Early Registration: Nov 7-18, 2011
General Registration: Jan 3-27, 2012

Early Registration is strongly advised. Courses may be cancelled after pre-registration if there is insufficient enrollment.

Starr King Tuition and Course Fees.

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 .

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".



Immersion | January Week One | January Week Two | January Week Three | January Week Four | Fieldwork


Rumi Immersion in Turkey
5-20 December, 2011
Ibrahim Farajaje

(Costs will be announced here when finalized.)

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, as well as with professors and students of theology.  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 should 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 $1400 to $2100 for room, board and transfers within Turkey.  Final costs to be determined in May 2010.  For more information, email Ibrahim Farajajé at

Although we have some broad notions of numbers of participants and prices, we historically have a clearer number of participants only after the arrival of new students in August.  Prices in Turkey change from year to year; sometimes the final prices for Turkish services don't come from Turkey until the end of September. 

We work very closely with local partner service providers in Turkey; this means that we work closely with their rhythms. We thank you for your interest in our programme. As soon as we receive new information, we will share the updates with you.

HRRA 4802 3 Units
Minimum 5 Limit 15             PIN Required: Yes

Immersion | January Week One | January Week Two | January Week Three | January Week Four | Fieldwork

Week 1: January 2 - 6, 2012 

Unitarian Universalist History
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., 2 - 6 January, 2012
Susan Ritchie

The course begins with an examination of the (alleged) antecedents to Unitarianism and Universalism in pre-Reformation Europe. We move on to trace the theological and then institutional emergence of Unitarianism out of the Radical Reformation. The Unitarian churches in Poland, Transylvania, and England will be considered in detail with attention to issues of sameness and difference in their development and declines. Special focus will be given to the relationship of these communities to their Jewish and Islamic contemporaries. We will also look at the universalism of 18th century England, and the uniquely North American institution of Universalism.  Then we turn our attention to Universalist ascendency, decline, and then consolidation with Unitarianism (perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of Unitarian/Universalist history). Careful attention will be paid throughout to the Unitarian/Universalist social location in relationship to class, race, and gender identities, and how these sometimes enabled and sometimes impaired social justice advances. Students will need to read David Robinson’s The Unitarians and The Universalists, pages 9-185, before class.   An electronic version of this text will be made available to students as they register.

HSHR 4017 3 Units
Minimum 5 Limit 20             PIN Required: Yes
Fireside Room

Ritual Practices in American Jewish Traditions
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., 2 - 6 January, 2012
Samira Mehta

RITUAL PRACTICES IN AMERICAN JEWISH TRADITIONS considers the role of religious practice in a broad spectrum of American Judaism, including practices in the Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Conservative, and Orthodox Movements. The class opens with a brief orientation to both practice theory and American Jewish history before delving deeply into the religious practices of keeping kosher, the Sabbath, Prayer, and Talmudic underpinnings for these practices, their histories in the American context, and their practice in different contemporary Jewish contexts. Particular attention will be given to ways in which these practices have been adapted or critiqued in contemporary Jewish communities, for instance, eco-kashrut and the use of mikveh in rituals surrounding miscarriage and menopause.

Students will be required to read the following before class starts: "Miriam's Kitchen: A Memoir by Elizabeth Ehrlich," "The Sabbath" by Abraham Joshua Heschel (please get the 2005 edition with an introduction by Susannah Heschel and read the introduction as well), "Living a Year of Kiddish: A Memoir by Ari L. Goldman," <>, and selected readings available on e-reserves. While the instructor reserves the right to assign small amounts of reading during the week, the above readings represent the bulk of the course material.

Students are required to submit a reader response journal on 12/15, via e-mail. Response journals should include 4-6 pages of reflection on each of the readings. They should address major themes in the works: How does the author understand and present religious practices? What work do the practices achieve, religiously or communally? What questions do the readings raise for you? The instructor will use these response journals to structure class discussion throughout the week of the class. Students will be asked to select one of their response essays and expand it to a larger paper, to be turned in, via e-mails, on 1/8/12. Both the reader response journal and final paper will represent one third of the grade for the course, with the remaining third based on class participation.

HRRS 4370           3 Units
Minimum: 5        Limit: 15               PIN Required: Yes
Reading Room

Immersion | January Week One | January Week Two | January Week Three | January Week Four | Fieldwork

Week 2: January 9-13, 2012 

Resilience and Resistance
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., 9 - 13 January, 2012
Megan Dowdell

View flier for this course. This intensive seminar roots itself in the dialectic between resistance and resilience in communities and congregations in a world where survival requires than bouncing back from crises and adversity. Geared particularly toward MDiv and MASC students, this course places life stressors, safety and health in the context of oppression, white supremacy and social movements. Through rigorous study, dialogue and spiritual reflection, students will understand the historical and cultural dynamics of stress and resilience, identify contextual factors and healthy strategies, and promote cultures of resistance in their ministries and activism. As the in-class time will be dedicated to integrating student contributions, some written reflection and reading will be required prior to the course start date. A final project will be due after the end date.

CEPS 4140   3 Units
Minimum 5 Limit 15             PIN Required: Yes
Fireside Room

On Other Worlds: Science Fiction, Theology, and Culture, PT. 1
5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m., 9 - 13 January, 2012
Ayize Jama Everett and Justin K. Waters

This two-part course consisting of a week-long, half-day intensive and an online seminar will explore science fiction through a theological lens and explore personal, community, and cultural theological foundations through a science fiction lens. Students will be encouraged to explore (personal, community, and cultural) theological foundations through a science fiction lens.  The course will explore the outer limits of imagination, located histories, the history of science/technology,the role of myth and image in shaping identity, community narration and 21st century oral history, and defining and deconstructing the operation of power.  During the intensive, the class will examine the hermeneutics of scientific progress and critically engage science fiction as a potentially liberatory literary genre using social and literary theories, including post/colonial, queer, post-structuralist, postmodern, modern, and critical race studies.  The online seminar will apply these theories to engage specific science fiction texts and theological themes, such as utopia, apocalypse, atonement, synchretism, and salvation. Students in  both high  and low residence will be required to attend weekly classes in the spring seminar—local participants through physical attendance, distance learners through streaming lectures.

PTPS 4500  1.5 Units
Minimum 5 Limit 20             PIN Required: Yes
Fireside Room

Immersion | January Week One | January Week Two | January Week Three | January Week Four | Fieldwork

Week 3: January 16-20, 2012 

Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers and Religious Liberals
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., 16 - 20 January, 2012
John Buehrens

An introduction to contemporary Biblical studies -- including feminist biblical interpretation, understandings of early Judaism in relation to Christian origins, and historical-literary approaches to understanding the Bible. Particularly useful for those alienated from the Biblical tradition prior to taking other courses in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Advance reading will be a 200 page paperback with the same title as the course [Beacon Press, 2003; pb. $14], plus key Biblical texts. A reader will be provided at the intensive. A final paper will be required.  John Buehrens has taught courses at Harvard Divinity School and Andover Newton as well as Starr King. He served as  President of the Unitarian Universalist Association from 1993 to 2001 and is now Minister of First Parish in Needham, Massachusetts, gathered in 1711. He is also co-author, with Rebecca Parker, of A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion [2010] and author of Universalists and Unitarians in America: A People’s History [2011].
View the syllabus for this course.

BS 4070      1.5 Units
Minimum 5     Limit 15   PIN Required: Yes
Fireside Room


Unitarian Universalist Social Action: For Such a Time as This
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., 16 - 20 January, 2012
Meg Riley

Too often, Unitarian Universalists understand work for social justice as an optional task for the marginalized few rather than as the spiritual practice of a healthy mission-centered congregation. This class will focus on how to move social justice from margin to center of congregational life by grounding social justice in theology and faith identity. We will also learn how to think strategically and be more effective. The course will require some reading to be completed before the first day of class. The course reader and first assignment information will be available for purchase at the nearby Copy Central, 2483 Hearst Ave., Berkeley. This course is open to SKSM and GTU students, local ministers and lay members of Unitarian Universalist congregations.
View the syllabus for this course.

CERS 4019  1.5 Units
Minimum 5 Limit 15 PIN Required: Yes
Fireside Room

Immersion | January Week One | January Week Two | January Week Three | January Week Four | Fieldwork

Week 4: January 2012 

No currently scheduled courses.

Immersion | January Week One | January Week Two | January Week Three | January Week Four | Fieldwork


Community Fieldwork January
Gabriella Lettini

Community Fieldwork 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 and more. Please arrange with the professor.
FE 4061     1.0-5.0 Units
Minimum 1 Limit 25             PIN Required: Yes

Congregational Fieldwork Winter
Kurt Kuhwald

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

FE 4051     1.0 - 5.0 Units
Minimum 1 Limit 25             PIN Required: Yes

Immersion | January Week One | January Week Two | January Week Three | January Week Four | Fieldwork

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2010-2011 (archived course listings)
Fall / Intersession / Spring / Summer / Online

Click to view the Starr King catalog in PDF format. (Note: Seminary for the Laity certificate program is no longer offered.)



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