At a time when political, economic, and social systems are breaking down, inequality, injustice, conflict, and repression are on the rise. As social justice advocates and religious leaders are increasingly and necessarily grappling with the intersection of religion and social justice, this course aims to look critically at efforts of peacemaking, conflict resolution and building a social movement to address these issues. The course is inspired by Gandhi’s statement, “poverty is the worst form of violence” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s teaching that, “peace is not simply the absence of tension but the presence of justice.” We will pay special attention to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s plans, announced in 1967, for a Poor People’s Campaign capable of connecting the evils of poverty, racism and militarism as inter-related and how that call is being taken up today. Our time together will include a set of critical comparative studies and presentations on social movements and related efforts in different parts of the world focused on how they are building peace and working for justice in their local context and globally. Students will have the opportunity to learn more about movement building and nonviolent direct action and gain practical experience in these areas.
Each week will feature a respected leader engaged in faith and social justice work. The class will open with an introduction of class themes, connecting to the specific topic and guest presenter for the week. The guest presenter will lecture, show videos, or do some other form of presentation for about 45 minutes. After the break, students will be invited to engage in group discussion and question and answer, weaving in themes from the course readings. In some cases, a biblical or other sacred text reflection will be integrated in this part of the class session.
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