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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Global Concerns in Public and Political Theology (DIVI11028)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryTheology is crucial to a variety of concerns that stir up controversies across the globe, both positively and negatively. This course brings together students and scholars of public and political theology from a variety of contexts, countries and continents to tackle one global concern each year. Topics range from poverty through secularization or individualization to pluralism. In a global conversation students learn to analyse and assess how theology impacts public or political debates and how public or political debates impact theology.
Course description Academic Description:
This course brings together students and scholars of public and political theology from a variety of contexts, countries and continents to tackle one global concern each year. Through lectures delivered by theologians from the Global South as well as the Global North, the course tackles a concern that has stirred up controversy across the globe. Thus, the course encourages critical analyses and constructive assessments of the role of theology in the public square from local and global perspectives. Drawing on experiences and expertise developed by theologians across the globe, students are enabled to evaluate and engage with public and political theology from local and global perspectives.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
This course revolves around an interactive lecture, delivered by a new scholar each week. Thus, the course showcases the methodological and thematical variety in public and political theology that exists across the globe throughout the semester. Framed by 'Introduction' and 'Conclusion' as well as at least one session dedicated to conversations among scholars and students, the course covers the global concern from conceptual and contextual angles.

Student Learning Experience:
This course is structured around an interactive lecture of one hour that introduces students to the topic of the week. The lecture - held by a new scholar each week - encourages conversations among students and scholars from a variety of backgrounds. The texts that are read in preparation for the lecture are selected to show the spectrum of approaches to public and political theology across the globe. The precise set-up of the course, including the speakers as well as the required and recommended readings, depends on the global concern chosen for study, so is likely to change from year to year.

Students will be assessed by two essays: a review essay of 1000 words, covering a publication in public or political theology and a reflective essay of 4000 words, covering a problem in public or political theology related to the global concern tackled in the course. Through these assessments, students will demonstrate the achievement of the learning outcomes of the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the public or political issue covered in the course, including both its local and its global implications.
  2. Compare and contrast methodological and thematical approaches in public and political theology.
  3. Evaluate the significance of theologies for public squares across the globe critically and constructively.
  4. Pursue and present independent research in public and political theology.
  5. Engage in constructive and critical debate with peers.
Reading List

Indicative Bibliography


Raimundo Barreto, Ronaldo Cavalcante, Wanderley P. da Rosa (eds), World Christianity as Public Religion (Minneapolis, MA: Fortress Press, 2017).

Len Hansen (ed), Christian in Public: Aims, Methodologies and Issues in Public Theology (Stellenbosch: SUN, 2007).

Sebastian Kim and Katie Day (eds), A Companion to Public Theology (Leiden: Brill, 2017).

Rubén Rosario Rodríguez (ed), T&T Clark Handbook of Political Theology (London: Bloomsbury, 2019).

Hent de Vries and Lawrence E. Sullivan (eds), Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-Secular World (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006).


Kevin Ahern, Meghan Clark, Kristin Heyer, Laurie Johnston (eds), Public Theology and the Global Common Good: The Contribution of David Hollenbach (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2016).

Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood, Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury and Free Speech (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013).

Heinrich Bedford-Strohm and Etienne de Villiers (eds), Prophetic Witness: An Appropriate Contemporary Mode of Public Discourse? (Münster: Lit, 2011).

Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Florian Höhne, and Tobias Reitmeier (eds), Contextuality and Intercontextuality in Public Theology: Proceedings from the Bamberg Conference (Münster: Lit, 2013).

Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West, The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere, ed. Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).

José Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1980).

Alexander Chow, Chinese Public Theology: Generational Shifts and Confucian Imagination in Chinese Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Paul S. Chung, Public Theology in an Age of World Christianity: God¿s Mission as Word-Event (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

Kjetil Fretheim, Interruption and Imagination: Public Theology in Times of Crisis (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2016).

Duncan Forrester, Christian Justice and Public Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Duncan Forrester, Theological Fragments: Explorations in Unsystematic Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2005).

Duncan Forrester, Apocalypse Now? Reflections on Faith in a Time of Terror (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2005).

Dion Forster, The (Im)Possibility of Forgiveness? An Empirical Intercultural Bible Reading of Matthew 18:15-35 (Stellenbosch: SUN, 2017).

Dion Forster, Elisabeth Gerle, Göran Gunner (ed.), Freedom of Religion at Stake: Competing Claims among Faith Traditions, States, and Persons (Eugene: Pickwick, 2019).

Elaine Graham, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Public Theology in a Post-Secular Age (London: SCM, 2013).

Elaine Graham, Apologetics without Apology: Speaking of God in a World Troubled by Religion. The Didsbury Lectures (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2017).

Elaine Graham and Anna Rowlands (eds), Pathways to the Public Square: Practical Theology in an Age of Pluralism (Münster: Lit, 2005).

John de Gruchy, Bonhoeffer and South Africa: Theology in Dialogue (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984).

John de Gruchy, Reconciliation: Restoring Justice (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002).

John de Gruchy, Being Human: Confessions of a Christian Humanist (London: SCM, 2006).

Jürgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger, The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006).

Kristin E. Heyer (ed), Prophetic and Public: The Social Witness of U.S. Catholicism (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2007).

David Hollenbach, The Global Face of Public Faith: Politics, Human Rights, and Christian Ethics (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2003).

Eneida Jacobson, Rudolf von Sinner, Roberto E. Zwetsch (ed.), Public Theology in Brazil: Social and Cultural Challenges (Berlin: LIT, 2012).

Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, Catherine Keller, and Elias Ortega-Aponte (eds) Common Goods: Economy, Ecology, and Political Theology (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015).

Emmanuel Katongole, Born from Lament: The Theology and Politics of Hope in Africa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017).

Michael Jon Kessler, Political Theology for a Plural Age (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013).

Sebastian Kim, Theology in the Public Sphere (London: SCM, 2011).

Deirdre King Hainsworth and Scott R. Paeth (eds), Public Theology for a Global Society: Essays in Honor of Max L. Stackhouse (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010).

Gaspar Martinez, Confronting the Mystery of God: Political Liberation and Public Theologies (London: Continuum, 2001).

Martin Marty, The Public Church (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1981).

Anita Monro and Stephen Burns (eds), Public Theology and the Challenge of Feminism (London: Routledge, 2015).

John Courtney Murray, Religious Liberty: Catholic Struggles with Pluralism, ed. J. Leon Hooper (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993).

Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study of Ethics and Politics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002).

Clive Pearson (ed.), Enacting a Public Theology (Stellenbosch: SUN, 2019).

D. Perman Niles, Is God Christian? Christian Identity in Public Theology: An Asian Contribution (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2017).

Kwok Pui-Ian, Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005).

Simon Shui-Man Kwan,¿Postcolonial Resistance and Asian Theology¿(London: Routledge, 2014).

Rudolf von Sinner, The Churches and Democracy in Brazil: Towards a Public Theology Focused on Citizenship (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2012).

Dirk J. Smit, Essays in Public Theology (Stellenbosch: SUN, 2007).

Dirk J. Smit, Remembering Theologians ¿ Doing Theology (Stellenbosch: SUN, 2013).

Max L. Stackhouse, Shaping Public Theology: Selections from the Writings of Max L. Stackhouse, ed. Scott R. Paeth, E. Harold Breitenberg Jr., and Hak Joon Lee (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014).

William F. Storrar and Andrew R. Morton (eds), Public Theolog for the 21st Century (London: T&T Clark, 2004).

Rasiah S. Sugirtharajah, The Bible and Empire: Postcolonial Explorations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

William H. Swatos, Jr. and James K. Wellmann, Jr. (eds), The Power of Religious Publics: Staking Claims in American Society (London: Praeger, 1999).

Desmond Tutu, No Future without Forgiveness (London: Rider, 1999).

Miroslav Volf, A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2011).

Robert Vosloo, Reforming Memory: Essays on South African Church and Theological History (Stellenbosch: SUN, 2017).

James Walters and Esther Kersley (eds), Religion and the Public Sphere: New Conversations (London: Routledge, 2018).

Felix Wilfred, Asian Public Theology: Critical Concerns in Challenging Times (Delhi: ISPCK, 2010).

Rowan Williams, Faith in the Public Square (London: Bloomsbury, 2012).

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Ability to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue
- Ability to interpret primary and secondary literature in an interdisciplinary context
- Ability to analyse and synthesise evidence from a variety of sources
- Ability to think systematically
- Ability to pursue and present independent research
Keywordsheology,politics,ethics,philosophy,sociology,public square,public sphere
Course organiserDr Ulrich Schmiedel
Tel: (0131 6)50 8918
Course secretaryMs Amy MacKinnon
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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