Syllabus for Roman Catholic Theological Thought: Nature and Environmental Ethics from Aquinas to Liberation Theology

After my post last week, on the advice of Mark William Westmoreland, I added a text by Joseph Ratzinger to fill out the early section of the course on Roman Catholic Social Thought. Thanks for the discussion about Cusa, including a friendly warning from Jake Sherman. I feel quite happy now to have him on the syllabus and I think he’ll work well with the theme I have of nature as creation in theological thought. I’ve posted the penultimate draft of the syllabus (a few things to iron out out once I’ve met with the head of department) for those interested.

7 Responses to “Syllabus for Roman Catholic Theological Thought: Nature and Environmental Ethics from Aquinas to Liberation Theology”

  1. Adam Kotsko Says:

    It looks great to me. It’s definitely toward the high end of the amount of reading I would assign, but I think that will probably help them to take you more seriously as a young professor.

  2. myles Says:

    great syllabus. One typo under “learning outcomes: you have ‘contemporary theoloians”.

  3. Kampen Says:

    While I love reading, I would not be impressed with the amount you are requiring because I would be plagued the entire semester with a lack-of-thought-time-misery. Assuming that I would be taking other courses, that is.

    In addition to myles, on several occasions you connect the “f” of “of” to the following word, leaving the “o” of “of” on its own.

  4. Mark William Westmoreland Says:


    I find the reading requirements to be appropriate. However, on a practical level, you should be aware (and probably already are) that the majority of students will not read every single page. In order to establish a middle ground, I’ve tried the following approach: assign 50-60 pgs listed in the syllabus and then, during the previous two class periods, recommend specific pgs (30-40) that they must read. I still strongly recommend that all 60 pgs are read but I give them more realistic portions of reading. I’ve found that the majority of students do read the 30-40 pgs and they also think something like “I’m doing them a favor” or “I’m on their side.” To my surprise, there is usually a handful that go ahead and read all of the assigned reading. These students usually say so in class/discuss the material in the extra pgs and then, after a few weeks, at least half of the class is reading all 60 pgs. No guarantees, of course, but it has worked for me for the last three years.

  5. Adam Kotsko Says:

    That is a great technique — I will give it a try this quarter.

  6. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Regarding reading, I’m well below the maximum that the college says is ok to assign, so I’m not too worried about that to be honest. I did my undergrad at DePaul and was assigned reading upwards of 300-500 pages per week. It is true that I didn’t read it all, but I think high expectations are better than “realistic” ones for most students. Basically I’ve seen how that ends, since in the UK I’m only allowed to assign 10-20 pages of reading per week. Kids who could be doing very high levels of work by US standards are treated like they’re idiots, essentially. Mark’s idea is also great and I’ll try to incorporate that into the two questions for reading I’ll be giving each week as well.

  7. Dave Mesing Says:

    10-20 pages a week is pretty ridiculous. That’s pretty much like asking students to half-ass it.

    Mark’s idea sounds very good. The reading quantity doesn’t strike me as out of whack, but I have no teaching experience. Best of luck with the course.

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