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COURSE NUMBER: PHES 201
COURSE TITLE: Engaging the World: Faith and Public Life
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Michael Demoor and Dr. Will Van Arragon
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3(hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 2 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Through experience and reflection, this course explores a number of fundamental issues, problems and opportunities that shape public life. Topics may include: poverty, the environment, multiculturalism, religious pluralism, and the relationship between economy and politics. The aim is to understand the nature and limits of public life and to examine the distinctive understanding and voice that Christian faith can bring to public debate on, and resolution of, these topics.

Prerequisites: Three credits of ECON 203, ECON 204, HIST 202, HIST 204, POLI 205.
REQUIRED TEXTS:
  • Readings will be incrementally posted on Moodle. These must be read if indicated by ‘Read:’ while the reading is optional if prefaced by ‘FYI:’ It is imperative that students frequently check Moodle to keep up to date on readings, assignments, and field trips.
  • On a daily basis, students must read a major newspaper or media outlet, such as the Globe and Mail or Edmonton Journal, National Post, (most also available in library or online) or CBC news, for “political” news.
MARK DISTRIBUTION IN PERCENT:
Written assignment 1: Op-ed10%
Midterm Exam20%
Written assignment: Discussion Paper20%
Class participation, field trips20%
Final Exam30%
100%
COURSE OBJECTIVES: Hunger. Homelessness. War. Pollution. The list of issues facing our world today is long and depressing. And the more we learn about these issues, the more we realize how complicated they are. Many interrelated factors contribute to them. Many individuals and institutions must work together to find solutions - and they don't seem to want to do that. Maybe a Christian perspective will give us the answer - but there are many Christian perspectives as well, and they don't all agree! What's a poor confused student to do?

We have three objectives for this introductory course in the PHE program:
  • Through field trips, guest speakers, and readings, to explore some of the issues facing our society and the range of different institutions that have roles to play in solving them. We will see that indeed, there are many difficult and complex questions that must be faced in the course of addressing these issues - questions that we may not have clear answers to either!
  •  To introduce you to some ways of thinking that can help us start to make sense of these questions. We'll explore perspectives from a variety of Christian traditions and see that even though they don't necessarily agree on everything, each nevertheless has valuable insights to offer us.
  •  To encourage you to think about where you stand in relation to all these things. Which issues inspire you to take action? Where do you see yourself doing that - from within government, the church, social service agencies, justice organizations, international development agencies, business, school, the media? How do you see your faith playing a role in what you choose to do?
We're not going to solve the world's issues in a single course! In fact, this course focuses on asking questions more than answering them, on exploring possible ways forward rather than defining a path to success, on opening up alternative ways of thinking rather than coming to conclusions. As you continue your studies at King's, you will have many opportunities to explore these questions in more depth and perhaps even arrive at some answers. We hope that this course gives you a good place from which to start that journey, with a vision of not only the many challenges but also the many opportunities that we all have to take action in God's coming Kingdom.
COURSE OUTLINE:I. Introduction
  • Introducing “Faith” and “Public Life”
  • History of faith & public life in Canada
II. The Institutional Topography of Public Life – what is ‘public life’?
  • Examining society as a whole
  • Government and public life
  • Economy, market, business and public life
  • Civil society/associations (including family, university, political parties and public interest platforms, church institutions) and public life
  • Ecological commons: the embeddedness of society, the economy and public life
  • Social movements and public life
  • Media and public life.
III. Possible topics: “Issue clusters” in Public Life
  • Engaging public life: public discourse, dialogue, persuasion, opinion, media …
  • Making change: faith, action and social hope.
  • Multiculturalism/pluralism/immigration
  • Arts and culture
  • Poverty and homelessness
  • Urban-suburban: agriculture & land use
  • Environment and economy
  • Crime, law and public safety


Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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