June 2, 2021

Fall 2021 Courses

Starr King School for the Ministry, in collaboration with our partners at Mills College, is planning a safe opening of our Vera Long Hall campus for the 2021-2022 academic year. Beginning on August 31, staff and faculty will conduct school business regularly from their offices. One week later the fall semester will start, and several hybrid classes will meet partially in-person.

We’re thrilled to announce our Fall courses – including five new offerings!

  • African Drumbeat Theology & Liberative Ethics (new!)
  • Religions & Politics (new!)
  • Indigenous Roots in Diaspora (new!)
  • Peace Studies & Interreligious Justice (new!)
  • Hindu Ecowomanism and the Black Mother Goddess (new!)
  • Body and Soul/Cuerpo Y Alma
  • Introduction to African Spirituality
  • Children and Family Ministries
  • Congregation and Nonprofit Administration
  • Introduction to Islam
  • Leadership Along the Way
  • Liberation, Social Justice, Bible
  • Queer Liberation Theologies
  • Spiritual Practices for these Times
  • The Ethics of Belief
  • Transformative Ritual Craft
  • Unitarian Universalist History

Scroll down for more information about each class!

While exploring Starr King, you can take any of these classes as a Special Student before you are fully enrolled. If you successfully complete the class and decide to enroll in one of our certificate or degree programs, this Special Student course will transfer. Spots for Special Students are limited and on an as-available basis. Learn more about registering as a Special Student here.

African Drumbeat Theology & Liberative Ethics

Rev. Mwaambi G Mbûûi, Newhall Fellow
Monday, 9:40 am – 12:30 pm PT

What contribution does the African continent offer the global “village” in terms of production and dissemination of Christian theological knowledge? Is it principally a consumer, producer, or both–epistemologically speaking? Further, what is the place of other sources of knowledge, e.g., the wisdom of the elders (sage philosophy), folklore, and other artistic expressions in the process of knowledge formulation, geared towards transformational theo-ethical engagement? Exploring answers to these and other related questions will form the core task of this course, which is designed to serve as an introduction to Constructive African Christian/Public Theology and Liberative Ethics. Students will be encouraged to learn through active participation, lectures, discussions, assigned readings, author case studies, and videos, and other modalities of instruction. Learn more!


Religions & Politics

Sanghyun Park, Newhall Fellow
Tuesday, 9:40 am – 12:30 pm PT

This synchronous online seminar course will give a critical overview of the relationship between religion and politics in various regions of the world. In this course, religion is defined not only as formal theological creeds but also as the societal beliefs, organizations, and subcultures associated with various religious/non-religious communities. Also, politics is not merely a set of institutional structure of statecraft but a whole dynamics of grass-root political life of each individual and community. Students will be encouraged to challenge the limitations of two prevalent concepts: religion and politics. Learn more!



Indigenous Roots in Diaspora

Lauren Martinez & Leora Cockrell, Hilda Mason Scholars
Wednesday, 2:10 – 5:00 pm PT

In this discussion, ritual and movement/embodiment-based course we will unravel the im/possibilities of embodying our indigenous roots in our diasporas. The instructors come from the African diaspora and European Jewish diaspora, respectively, and strive to hold a container that is welcoming and liberating for all while acknowledging we live on stolen Indigenous land. Learn more!



Peace Studies & Interreligious Justice

Dr. Shannon Frediani
Asynchronous Online

This course is an introduction to peace education and peace building approaches. The content draws upon multiple faith perspectives and peace education scholarship. Definitions, theory, skills, and practices will be covered that are relevant for religious and interreligious leaders, educators, members of faith communities as well as members of secular society. Students will learn various models and aspects of peace education and discern relevant applications in their own contexts culminating in designing a peace education plan for implementation. Learn more!



Hindu Ecowomanism and the Black Mother Goddess

Pravina Rodrigues
Thursday, 2:10 – 5:00 pm PT

Drawing on Hindu Goddess’ traditional lore, this synchronous online course explores the relationship of identity between ecology, women, and the Goddess as not symbolic or representational, but substantive and real. This indigenous non-dual epistemology stands in contrast to dominant dualistic epistemologies that tend to contain fragmented perspectives of reality. The symbiotic, porous, interdependent nature of reality is an embodied realization that takes place when the Black Goddess Kali dissolves the solipsism, the subject-object dichotomy that is part of the human condition. This course intertwines the three strands of Hindu Goddess ecowomanism: 1) Hindu Cosmology and the feminine principle; 2) the thealogy of the Black Mother Goddess 3) the voice of activists, scholars, and grassroots organizers in the face of environmental degradation and earth justice. Learn more!



Body and Soul / Cuerpo Y Alma

María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa
Tuesday, 2:10 – 5:00 pm PT

This synchronous course will explore Latin American Liberation Theologies and embodied ritual practices that interrogate the body as a space of contention, resistance, and transformation. Examples of topics to be discussed:

1) Indigenous Ways of Knowing: The Lived Religious Experience
2) Two-Spirits/Queer/GNC Latinx Bodies as Decolonizing Narratives of Resistance
3) Fleshing the Spirit: Storytelling and Healing Rituals as Research and Theological Narratives

Learn more!

Introduction to African Spirituality

Anthony Mtuaswa Johnson
Thursday, 9:40 am – 12:30 pm PT

In the creation of our “Beloved Community,” this synchronous online course will ask and answer what contributions do the ancient spiritual wisdoms of Africa have to offer at this time? Indigenous African Spiritualities differ from what we in the West may refer to as “religion.” There is no fixed creed or closed theological system as seen in some forms of Christianity and Islam. Indigenous African spiritualities are primarily based upon oral traditions and do not have a codified written text, like other major religions. African spiritualities are holistic. In them, any imbalance or disturbance is seen not only as personal but includes one’s social, family and village relationships and the relationship with one’s ancestors. They encompass at their most basic level a universal belief in survival and triumph over death and the immortality of the human soul. The course will be experiential in nature with links to how African Spiritualities can inform our communal and global pursuit of social justice. Learn more!

Children and Family Ministries

Rev. Dr. Sheri Prud’homme
Thursday, 9:40 am – 12:30 pm PT

A broad introduction to the theory and practice of religious education and children and family ministries, with an emphasis on Unitarian Universalist congregations. Topics include history and philosophy of Unitarian Universalist children’s religious education and ministry, teaching methods and learning processes, human development, innovations in religious education for children and youth including multigenerational ministries and worship-centered models, and collegial relationships and professional standards for religious educators. Learn more!



Congregation and Nonprofit Administration

Rev. Dr. Sheri Prud’homme
Wednesday, 9:40 am – 12:30 pm PT

Organization and administration can propel a congregation or non-profit organization thrive or wither. This course equips ministers and other religious leaders to provide effective and informed leadership in collaboration with staff and volunteers. Topics include fundraising and stewardship, budgeting and financial statements, recruiting and working with staff and volunteers, organizational systems and leading for growth and change, governance models, facilities and safety, and time management. Learn more!

Introduction to Islam

Dr. Som Pourfarzaneh
Wednesday, 2:10 – 5:00 pm PT

This course will give an introduction to the Islamic tradition in its religious, historical, and cultural contexts, paying particular attention to the diversity of expressions of Islam within each of these categories. The course will discuss the theological foundations of the tradition, the history of its development, and different expressions of its praxis that have evolved out of Muslim cultures and societies. It will also present contemporary issues related to Islam and Muslims, particularly in their representation throughout different types of media. Learn more!

Leadership Along the Way

J. Tyson Casey
Monday, 2:10 – 5:00 pm PT

The rationale for this course is to develop one’s own life-regenerating leadership along the long arc of social change and transformation that existed before our time and will continue after us. We will explore ways of engaging and directing energy within an ecosystem so as to encourage diversity and distribution of leadership. This includes rediscovering our agency in challenging environments while leading in a way that honors the leadership present in any given moment, as well as the leadership that preceded and will follow such moments. Learn more!

Liberation, Social Justice, Bible

Dr. Ashley London Bacchi
Monday, 9:40 – 11:00 am PT

What does the Bible actually say about slavery, homosexuality, abortion, immigration, women’s roles, and more? In this course, we will discuss the ways in which the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament have been used to support movements of liberation and social justice as well as to support and justify oppressive and violent systems such as slavery, income disparity, sexism, homophobia, racism, and xenophobia. By situating biblical verses within their literary, cultural, and historical context, we will dismantle oppressive and kyriarchal readings. The overarching ethic of both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament is liberation and social justice. However, this ethic has been obscured by oppressive readings which fail to account for context. The course will equip students with tools for countering systems of oppression through critical contextual readings of the sources, as well as by introducing intersectional feminist, postcolonial, queer, and ecological methodologies to “de-weaponize” Scripture. Learn more!


Queer Liberation Theologies

Hugo Córdova Quero
Asynchronous Online

What does «liberation» mean to queer individuals and communities? How do Christian traditions worldwide relate to queer issues and queer believers? For the last twenty years queer theologians and communities have been developing contextual theologies in order to challenge and critique the ingrained heteronormativity in theological thought, spiritual practices, and institutional governance. Drawing from an interdisciplinary perspective, the course aims to examine and explore the development of queer theologies in the specific contexts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The focus of the course is intentionally non-US centered in order to offer future ministers, scholars, and activists tools to collaborate and interact with experiences, key topics, and thinkers within the complex and yet fascinating world of queer liberation theologies, thus, enriching their worldview and praxis glocally. Learn more!

Spiritual Practices for these Times

Rev. Pamela D. Hancock
Asynchronous Online

In this course, students will explore, develop and/or deepen their spiritual practice and support others in doing the same. The class will be experiential and multi-religious, drawing on some of the wisdom and practices of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Earth-based traditions, as well as neuroscience, poetry, and Ecopsychology. Evaluation will be based on reflections, spiritual practice exercise, a project, and how students help create a vibrant and caring learning community. Learn more!

The Ethics of Belief

Dr. Andrea Vestrucci
Wednesday, 9:40 am – 12:30 pm PT

The course aims to explore what means to believe – with specific focus on religious beliefs – and what consequences beliefs have on our conduct, character, and life. The course is divided in two parts. The first part deals with the distinctive features of belief: what’s the difference between belief, truth, and knowledge, with particular emphasis on scientific knowledge; what’s the specificity of religious beliefs compared to other kinds of belief. The second part of the course deals with the impact that having and holding beliefs have on our decisions, our relationships with the others (trust, confidence, empathy…), and the ethical framework we (try to) follow. Learn more!

Transformative Ritual Craft

Taya  Shere
Tuesday, 9:40 am – 12:30 pm PT

Transformative Ritual Craft is an exploration into the art and technology of ritual craft. This course supports students in developing a nuanced understanding of successful ritual structures and empowers students in cultivating skills to create and guide ritual. The course itself is a ritual immersion, with each class meeting structured as a ritual experience. Students are encouraged to deepen their own ritual practices, to experience rituals in contexts new to them and to craft and guide ritual for community. Students will identify their strengths and edges in ritual craft and leadership, and will receive structured support in enhancing their existing ritual strengths and in nurturing arenas in which they seek additional growth and experience. The Transformative Ritual Craft class will also participate in monthly online SKSM chapel services, which occur during class time. Learn more!

Unitarian Universalist History

Rev. Dr. Meg Richardson
Asynchronous Online

This course begins with a discussion of recent historical developments in Unitarian Universalism and then extends back through time to the various antecedents of Unitarianism and Universalism in pre-Reformation Europe, all the way back to the early church and the Council of Nicea. Students will have the opportunity to explore Unitarian Universalist heritage, as well as different historical approaches. We will examine social location in relation to class, race, and gender identities, and how these enabled or impeded social justice advances. We will discover the origins of our faith by progressing from our known contemporary experience to the unknown, and perhaps unknowable. Along the way we will consider various theological developments within this tradition, as expressed through various identities and the challenges presented by new modalities of faith including Transcendentalism and Humanism. Learn more!

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