Faith, Social Justice & Public Life

How does faith inform public debates on social justice in U.S. politics? How should religious leaders and politicians engage the political process while maintaining their moral witness?

Since the fall of 2011, Jim Wallis—president and founder of Sojourners—has been addressing these questions in a course he teaches at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. He leads the class through a series of topics that intersect religion, society, and politics. Over the past three fall semesters, prominent guest speakers, including Michael Gerson and Elizabeth Warren, helped to frame the critical issues.

The content of the course, including syllabus, lectures, and recommended readings, are available here for a worldwide audience.

The course addresses poverty, war, and peace, climate change and renewable energy, immigration, and race. Frequent guest presentations will expose the course taker to practitioners’ perspectives on these and other issues.

 
Don’t forget your books!
There are just a few printed books you’ll need to keep up with the required readings for this course. They're offered at a discount in our Sojostore!

Class 1 | Religion and Media

Instructor: Jim Wallis

In an increasingly pluralistic and interfaith society, is it a good idea to bring faith into public life? Which values and whose faith should be applied to politics? A debate over the role of religion is good and healthy, as is discussing the relationship between personal and social responsibility. People of faith who believe in social justice can be found in public life across the political spectrum.

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Class 2 | Poverty


Instructor: Beau Underwood, former director of advocacy and campaigns, Sojourners

Poverty in the United States is growing…again. How do work, education, and family change poverty? How do we deal with the growing inequality in the U.S.? And how can we find innovative ways of providing jobs and ensuring fairness to ensure family economic success here at home? What about global poverty? Are we making progress in ending extreme poverty?

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Class 3 | A New Social Covenant

Instructor: Public dialogue

On September 17-18, 2013, the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Values held a conference at Georgetown University. Jim Wallis is the chair of this Council. The theme of the conference was “The New Social Covenant: Committing to Human Dignity and Common Values in the Global Economy.”

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Class 4 | Poverty (Part II)

Instructor: Jim Wallis

This class will pick up on the prior session about poverty.

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Class 5 | Immigration

Instructor: Jim Wallis

The human face of the social, political, and economic problems caused by the current system demonstrates the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform. How can we establish immigration policies that are both compassionate and just, while respecting the rule of law? How do we make our borders secure in humane and realistic ways?

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Class 6 | Immigration (Part II)

Instructor: Jenny Yang, vice president of advocacy and policy, World Relief

This class will pick up on the prior session about immigration.

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Class 7 | Race and Religion

Instructor: Jim Wallis

It is often said that racism is America’s “original sin.” In 2013, we marked 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years since the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s momentous “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Yet race remains salient in American public life.

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Class 8 | Race and Religion (Part II)

Instructor: Dalia Mogahed, CEO, Mogahed Consulting

In the past few years, anti-Muslim sentiment is rising in the U.S. Qurans and mosques have been burned or defaced, hysteria fanned around the alleged imposition of sharia law, and hateful advertising campaigns mounted. The response from some Muslims internationally has been violent demonstrations against U.S. Embassies, including the killing of an ambassador.

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Class 9 | Climate and Energy

Instructor: Jim Wallis

Oil spills and other events have shown us the effect of our addiction to oil; global temperatures are rising at a steady and alarming pace, due primarily to human activities. What are the policies and practices that can develop clean, efficient, and renewable energy sources to reduce our consumption of the earth’s finite resources?

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Class 10 | Climate and Energy (Part II)

Instructor: Reverend Mitchell C. Hescox, President/CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network

This class will pick up on the prior session about climate and energy.

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Class 11 | War and Peace

Instructor: Jim Wallis

The Christian tradition has yield two different perspective on the ethics of war: pacifism and the “just war theory.” Many Christians have ignored both of these perspectives when it comes to the “war on terror,” considering it a distinctly different type of combat, confronting a decentralized and transnational enemy unconstrained by the rules of war between nation states.

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Class 12 | War and Peace (Part II)

Instructor: David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

This class will pick up on the prior session about war and peace.

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