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.
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.
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. Limited Skype attendance allowed.
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.
All Starr King students working as interns in Unitarian Universalist congregations are expected to participate in this time of reflection on their ministerial work. All participants will be expected to attend the Starr King Intern Gathering for two days TBD in January, 2016.
This is a 10 month full-time (one year) or part-time (two year) experience in a teaching congregation under the supervision of a Minister in final Fellowship, an intern committee, and a professor at the school. Those who register for this course must also register for Parish Intern Reflection Fall. Please note: this course does not indicate a specific time block at this time (TBA).
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In this semester-long, on-line, three-unit class we will meet people from all over the world, from a variety of religious and cultural traditions, who have practiced forgiveness as a means of healing, peace and liberation. Through readings, films, and spiritual practice exercises we will develop interpersonal and pastoral skills in forgiveness. We will work on strengthening our “forgiveness muscles” and support others in doing so as well. We will also explore “the other side of forgiveness”: how we individually and collectively might apologize, repent and atone after wrong-doing. This class will be experiential, drawing on personal narratives, neuroscience, psychology, practical theology and the wisdom and practices of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.
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. Priority given to off-campus SKSM students. [Faculty approval required; 20 max enrollment. Auditors excluded]
The online education format brings with it both benefits and challenges. On the one hand, it provides greater flexibility and the opportunity for all of us to gather together in collaborative learning—no matter where we are in the world. On the other hand, certain limitations can sometimes render the format less interactive than a traditional in-person course. Taking all of this into consideration, and in the hopes of providing a lively learning experience, this course has been designed to provide as much quality interaction as possible—both with the material and with the class community. The course material will include images, video clips, and music relevant to the faith traditions we will be studying, along with the textual readings. In addition, collaborative dialogue with classmates (weekly forum postings as well as “live” discussion via Skype, phone, etc.) will hopefully create a dynamic and stimulating learning environment where we can all engage in thoughtful discussion and reflection.
This course provides a general introduction through the Quest of the Historical Jesus to the life and activity of the first century revolutionary prophet. Who was Jesus before he became an object of belief and worship? Why did his movement happen right there and then? What was the “good news” that turned the ancient world upside down?
We will consider the best available canonical as well as non-canonical literary and other evidences, will examine assumptions underlying the discipline (politics of interpretation), discuss methodologies and the limits of the historical investigation and also consider and evaluate several fascinating scholarly reconstructions. We will keep a heavy emphasis on the social sciences in this class, which will help us understand how Jesus himself was embedded in a specific history and culture, and how he and his counter cultural message are relevant today in a postcolonial setting.
Rich sociological traditions offer tools and knowledge for dismantling systems of oppression, creating social change, and building just faith communities. This course offers an introduction to the critical analysis of social behavior, organization, and institutions for faith leaders and religion scholars. Students engage foundational texts and empirical research relevant to human experience as well as religious tradition, in order to develop theoretical and substantive bodies of knowledge as well as interpretive skills. Focus areas include feminist theory, affect, postcolonial thought, biopower, social movements, and critical race theories, among others. In each weekly unit, central questions address the nature of human action; the role of State power and ideology; notions of self, “other,” and agency; and systemic oppression and social change. The course requires weekly on-line discussion and frequent live video sessions. Students complete a final project by producing a photo essay as part of an online gallery and symposium.
This anti-oppression course is designed for those of us who are called to be with people who live with mental disorders. We will spend the semester together exploring the complex world of mental “illness” in the US (although we will venture abroad just a little bit). We will companion each other through the weeks – these are emotionally difficult topics, and part of what we will do in this class is support each other as we scrutinize the ways in which our culture treats people who have been given the label of “mentally ill.”
Along the way, we will gain an understanding of the recently released new DSM-5 – and the implications of the new definitions of what behavior is, and isn’t, considered pathological. We will look at intersections of oppression, using race/ethnicity; class; age; gender; institutional power as the anti-oppression framework to examine cultural definitions and treatments of people who live with “mental disorders.” We will take specific issues (e.g. therapies; treatments; pharmaceuticals; criminal justice; mental health policies; children; youth; veterans) to examine the intersections. And we will also look for hope – making sure to find positive examples wherever and whenever possible.
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 insight and inspiration. Readings and multimedia materials will include Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Indigenous sources.
The model of “mystic-°©‐activism” refers those individuals (whether self-°©‐identified as mystics or not) whose recognition of the unity of all life, and whose love for the Divine in all creation, compelled and sustained their work of peace and justice-°©‐making. Online class discussions will identify key principles, consider areas of common ground and uniqueness among those studied, and students will be encouraged to incorporate any practices and perspectives that may enrich their own lifework. The ethical implications of the mystic experience and worldview will be a focus throughout.
All of us who work and serve and struggle in the world require a regular discipline of, as Howard Thurman put it, “watering our roots” to replenish the inner spirit. Through a holistic approach of both heart and head, we will engage specific practices to nourish and sustain an ongoing commitment to anti-°©‐oppression work and ministerial service.
During Fall 2015, 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. View IBS Course listings, including:
- HRPH-8455 Topics in Japanese Buddhist Thought: Women, Family, Dharma
- HRHS-8307 Premodern Shin Buddhist History
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.
9/8/15 – 12/18/15
Faculty Approval Required
How do those called to bless the world – to engage with the suffering and healing of others, and of the planet – ground and sustain themselves? Students will link theory, practice, and personal experience to develop their personal theologies for sustainable, resilient leadership – and learn practical tools to serve their vocations “for the long haul”. Together, we will explore concepts including compassion fatigue, measuring emotional and spiritual health, vocational burnout, trauma stewardship, boundary setting, and care for self and community. Participants will also explore how to positively influence organizational culture and build healthy, sustainable congregations and other organizations. This interactive, multi-faceted course combines multimedia, readings, class discussion, a praxis (action/reflection) component, and more, and is open to all interested in spiritual leadership for social change.
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.
This preaching course explores advanced work in counter oppressive ministry through worship and the arts. Hands on learning will combine the daily sharing and peer review of brief homilies with exercises aimed at identifying your authentic preaching voice. Questions of how to make our worship services more relevant in today’s culturally shifting world will be explored through thea/ological study of homiletics through a libratory lens and an engagement with issues of cultural appropriation and misappropriation in Unitarian Universalist liturgical practice. Course work in basic homiletics is not required for this class. Students from all traditions are welcome. Prerequisite readings will be announced.
Theater of the Oppressed (TO) is a collection of games, techniques, exercises for using theater as a vehicle for personal and social change. It is a method of harnessing the laboratory of the theater as a powerful tool for exploring power, transforming oppression, and finding community-building solutions to the problems of inequality, conflict and injustice. Based on the radical ideas of Paolo Freire and Augusto Boal, it is a collective artistic exploration into the fullest expression of our human dignity, potential and creativity.
This is an introductory workshop covering the theory, application, and facilitation of TO, including:
- Image Theater
- Forum Theater
- Rainbow of Desire
- Theory & Pedagogy
The workshop will be 80% experiential and 20% reflective/didactic. No prior theater or performance experience is required. Elements of related counter-oppressive techniques will also be introduced as an adjunct to TO, and prominent practitioners of TO will be invited as guest facilitators
Ritual Craft as Transformative Practice supports students to develop a nuanced understanding of successful ritual structures and empowers them to cultivate and strengthen skills to create and guide ritual. The course is a ritual immersion, with sessions guided as ritual experience. Students are encouraged to deepen their own resonant ritual practices, to experience rituals in contexts new to them and to craft and guide prayer and ceremony for community. Students identify their strengths and edges in ritual crafting and leadership enhance their existing ritual strengths and nurture and build skills in arenas in which they seek additional growth and experience. Course topics include Ritual Form, Flow and Intention; Ritual and the Body; Ritual and the Earth; Ritual, Revolution and Counter-Oppression; Ritual, Prayer and the Divine; Personal & Communal Ritual; Altar-Practice and Tending Sacred Space; and Initiation and Life-Cycle Ceremony.
In building the Beloved Community how do we ground our faith in anti-racist and antioppressive theologies that offer safe spaces for healing and transformation and opportunities to build bridges of mutuality, accountability and trust? What can we do so our urban churches better reflect the diversity of their surrounding neighborhoods and become a welcoming spiritual home for all people? How do we strive towards diverse congregations in ways that are authentic, radically inclusive, spiritually grounded and justice centered? How do we maintain integrity when affirming stories of struggle and marginality that are not our own? How do we offer worship experiences and pastoral care that is culturally relevant to a multiracial and multigenerational community? What have we learned since the historic 1997 Journey Towards Wholeness resolution “Toward an Anti-Racist Unitarian Universalist Association?” What can learn from other denominations successes and challenges around racial diversity, anti-oppression and multicultural ministry?
This interdisciplinary course will engage our stories of oppression and privilege to unpack and integrate all parts of our identity and understand how our social location impacts our ministries and future vocational roles. We will explore the intersectionality of oppression and privilege to discern how each part of who we are informs the whole. We will engage in dialogue across stories of race, gender, sexuality, spirituality, ability, culture, class, language, nationality,
and immigration identity. Students will be asked to offer their own creative responses to the most important anti-racist/anti-oppression issues facing the future of our faith. Guest lecturers, identity
based caucuses, class field trips, integrative reflective statements, group multimedia presentations and a final project/paper will supplement weekly discussions and chevruta/small group dialogue. (previous experience with SKSM’s Educating to Counter Oppression courses is encouraged but not required).
The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to distinctive theological perspectives present within Unitarian Universalist traditions and congregations, and to equip students to begin to think and write theologically in the context of post-modern religious communities and culture. Unitarian Universalism will serve as a case study in post-modern religious community and as a specific location for theological reflection. Especially oriented to students who identify as Unitarian Universalists, this course will encourage participants to form a practice of engaged theological thinking within the context of Unitarian Universalism’s particular perspectives, resources, limits and possibilities. Students who do not identify as Unitarian Universalists will become acquainted with this expression of American progressive post-Christian Protestantism as a site in which to engage theological issues critical to post-modern religious community.
This course encompasses the study of racial/ethnic, gender and religious identity negotiations of Latina/o migrants both from theoretical literature as well as case studies. The many issues entailed to migratory patterns such as those of Latina/o migrants are examined through an interdisciplinary approach. The literature from the many disciplines involved in the study on these topics is vast, hence you are expected to be familiar with the main themes as viewed in class. The main goal of this course is to provide the student/s with the basic knowledge on the many issues present in the migratory pathways of Latina/o migrants to the U.S. and Japan.
Upon completion of this course you should be able to:
- Be familiar with the different conceptions of racial formations and ethnic relations in the U.S. and Japan that provide the wider social context where Latina/o migrants incorporate;
- Identify the pivotal theoretical concepts that allow us to understand broader Latina/o migration experiences according to different geographical, social and historical realities; and Córdova Quero — Promised Lands and Immigrants
- Examine the particular experiences of race/ethnicity; gender; and faith present in the daily life of Latina/o Im/Migrants within the context of the U.S. and Japan.
As aforementioned, the literature on race/ethnicity, gender, religion, and migration is extensive, especially when those themes are examined throughout varied disciplines such as ethnic studies, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, gender studies, migration studies, and religious studies. In this course we are able to just glimpse at the surface of the manyfold realities of the intersection of those axis. We will select representative authors from those various disciplines in order to understand the issues at best. By contrasting two cases of migration destinations, namely the United States and Japan, you will discover familiar trends as well as particularities that may guide you, either in further studies, research, fieldwork, or pastoral work, to understand the experiences of Latina/o migrants.
Japan and the United States share a relatively short history of modern Latina/o migration, around 30 years for Japan and around 150 years for the U.S. People from Latin American countries have intermittently migrated back-and-forth to and from them. In order to understand both situations, we will also pay attention to the of study historical migrations, especially in the Americas. However, the period studied in this class ranges mainly from the late 1800s to the present time in both cases.
The first section of the course will focus on general theoretical themes that cut across the course’s cases. It will provide you with tools to analyze the experiences of Latina/o migrants in general. The second section will focus first on the case of the United States and then on the case of Japan. We will also locate the particular understandings of race/ethnicity, gender and religion in every case in order to understand the nuances of identity negotiations of Latina/o migrants in both contexts. The third and last section of the course deals with commonalities and disparities among the two migration experiences as a way to provide for further reflection on glocal identity negotiations.
This innovative hybrid course is designed for students interested in new church planting and entrepreneurial leadership in congregations and beyond. Course material will include historical and theological reflections on when and how new faith communities have been seeded and cultivated in Unitarian Universalist contexts. Participants will design a research project that could take the form of a comprehensive plan and prospectus for their own future church plant project, a survey of recent UU church plants and best practices, a comparative theology of progressive and evangelical church planting; all which would add to a growing body of knowledge in this field. SKSM and GTU students interested in enrolling should submit a brief introduction and project proposal with PIN request.
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 student 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. A copy of the project (writing, video, etc.) will be placed in a public collection (online and/or at the school, when possible). A total of 3 MASC Project credits are required for graduation in the MASC degree. Please discuss with instructor.