Ethics in an Age of Plagues, Pestilence, & Pandemics
Miguel A. De La Torre -
The world is gripped by a deadly pandemic
. This is neither the first time, nor probably will be the last. What we do know is in the
of such deadly
l bonds which once held c
ommunity together are frayed if not completely broken as
s take hold and new ways of being arise. This course will wrestle with
a moral compass during crisis and an ethical
vision as a new reality is constructed. Special attention will be given to
how not all suffer equally, and the role
racism, classism, and sexism
during national emergencies. Finally, the course would
finding their own ethical voice during a time of hopelessness and desperation.
Required Materials (to purchase)
The Black Death
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Perfect Sense, 2011 (
All other required materials will be provided in Canvas
Other Syllabus Items
- To teach students how to identify and critically evaluate the symbolic systems, power structures, ideologies, values, and religious meanings at play in events and interactions, institutional structures, ethical judgments, and living communities, and articulate and enact a vision for increased social justice in these contexts.
- To teach students how to identify ethical and theological assumptions implicit in the moral life of persons and communities.
- To teach students to examine critically their own ethical assumptions as well as prevailing ethical assumptions in faith communities and society.
- To teach students to critically engage historical theological expressions of Christianity in relation to contemporary events and/or situations.
- To teach students to articulate a vision for increased social justice in relationships, communities, institutions, and systems and structures of power.
- To teach students to complete a power analysis of systems and relationships and make strategic decisions for how one intervenes as a religious leader.
- To teach students how to engage in social, historical, and political analysis in order to identify key factors impacting situations in which social change is desired and potential contradictions within these settings that open up the possibility for change.
- Participation in each discussion. Specific kinds of preparation will be required.
- Complete required readings before the first day of class.
- A Final Reflection Paper
A pass/fail grade option is available. Please inform the teaching assistant in writing no later than the end of week 6 of the course if you choose this option. No reasons need to be given.
For those who choose a letter grade, the following scale is used:
- Final take home examination = 70%
- Class Participation = 20%
- Academic Decorum = 10%
Written Grades (70%)
A - The student demonstrates exceptional quality in written work. Little room for improvement exists. Several primary sources (outside of class readings) are used in the writing assignment. Both effort and execution are first-rate. It is obvious that the reading assignment was critically analyzed.
B - The student’s work is above average. At least one primary source (outside of class reading) is used in the writing assignment. It is obvious that the reading assignment was completed.
C - The student has fulfilled the minimal requirements for this course. Effort and the execution of assignment are of average quality. It is obvious that the reading assignment was not thoughtfully read. There is room for improvement.
D - The student work is below average. It is obvious that the reading assignment was not done. The student is not living up to the expectations of graduate-level work.
F -The student failed to accomplish the class assignments.
A late paper/exam will lose one letter grade for each class day that it is turned in late. If extra ordinary circumstances exist which prevent the student from completing her/his assignment on time, then the student needs to make an appointment with the teaching assistant to discuss an alternative schedule prior to when the assignment is due. Students who do not hand in ALL completed assignments must make prior signed arrangements for an Incomplete. Students not making these prior arrangements will automatically receive an "F" for the course.
Academic Decorum (10%)
Being consistently present in discussions is a baseline expectation. Academic decorum is based on the following:
A - The student is respectful of others. While disagreeing or challenging, the student never dishonors or disrespects. The student does not monopolize the conversation and is conscious of the need of all students having an opportunity to speak.
B - Every so often the student is insensitive to other student’s social location; rather than challenging or disagreeing with whatever point of view is being offered. The student seems to speak more than others, insensitive that others have not had an opportunity to speak.
C - The student is disrespectful and is not willing to entertain different views. The student confuses their particular experience with the norm. Rather than paying close attention to the lecture and/or discussion, the student is texting, checking facebook, or engaging in some other form of social media unrelated to the class.
D - The student disrupts the learning experience of others by the way they conduct themselves in class.
F - The student creates a hostile classroom experience.
Students will be prepared to discuss the following questions for each reading:
- Who is the author?
- What is the author’s thesis?
The thesis question should be answered in one sentence: this is a valuable skill to practice that will enable you to process information efficiently and effectively.
- What is the author’s methodology and theory?
Method is the way the author conducts research; theory is how the author explains the research findings
- How did this reading further your self-understanding of ethical issues and what do you take away from the book?
- In light of the reading and class lecture, suggest a specific act of justice you feel motivated to do.
Submission of Assignments: In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, we ask that no assignment be submitted in paper form. Please submit all assignments through Canvas. File name should be your first name initial followed by your last name. For example, the file name for my final would be mdelatorre.
Incomplete Policy: See Policies & Services in Course Navigation at the left.
Each week, the TA will serve as the facilitator for our discussions. The role of the facilitators is to post questions to stimulate class discussion around the book and other related course materials. These questions are intended to extend the conversation beyond the 5 analysis questions, but may launch from this initial reading analysis.
These conversations are an important space for our learning in this class, so please take these postings seriously and don’t be afraid to post more often than required. Some suggestions for types of questions:
- Connect the present book to other course material
- Share any questions that remained unanswered during your reading of the book
- Connect the present book to current events related to course material
- Ways in which the author’s ideological location might influence thesis or method and the ramifications.
- Controversial or difficult topics raised in the book that could use further discussion
Weekly Forum Discussion Instructions
Questions for Discussion - by Monday at 8:00pm
Each week, the TA will post a question or questions for discussion. You are welcome to begin responding as soon as they are posted.
Initial Response - by Wednesday at Midnight
All students must post a substantial response (see below) to the prompts posted by the TA or extending the conversation by responding to another student. Please be sure to keep all posts under the original thread.
Comments and Conversation - by Sunday at 8:00pm
Everyone must post a minimum of one additional substantial contribution (see below) to the conversation.
A substantial contribution critically engages the course material and the thoughts of others. They demonstrate that a respondent has read the prompts and all of the discussion that has preceded it. They are a minimum of 250 words and encourage others to engage in discussion that tie together the course topics, lectures, and the readings.
Much like in a on campus class discussion, where one listens to others before responding, it is expected that you will read what others have posted before you post your response. Failure to do so is a violation of Academic Decorum and will negatively impact your grade.
This quarter, we'll be having several Zoom meeting sessions as a way of communicating "in person" as well as through the online discussion forums. These sessions will be a great way to talk about the readings and pose questions and comments in live format, and get some face time with your instructor!
If you are a for credit student, please attend at least three of the sessions.
Non-credit students are NOT expected to participate, but they are welcomed to listen in
We'll be holding them on different dates and times.
They will be held on the following dates:
9/21/20 at 6pm: Password: 076501 https://iliff-edu.zoom.us/j/92874265688?pwd=TUFzMXBtQzE3QTc0UlhzaVR3RzZrZz09
10/5/20 at 6pm: Password: 524371
10/21/20 at 6pm: Password: 554135 https://iliff-edu.zoom.us/j/96092131466?pwd=WGgzWXpodlZxbm9LbDJKa29KR1dVUT09
11/5/20 at 6pm: Password: 580588
|Sep 17, 2020||Thu||Introductory Discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 21, 2020||Mon||Comments and Conversation||due by 02:00AM|
|Sep 24, 2020||Thu||The Black Death Part 1 Discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 28, 2020||Mon||Comments and Conversation||due by 02:00AM|
|Oct 01, 2020||Thu||The Black Death Part 2 Discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 05, 2020||Mon||Comments and Conversation||due by 02:00AM|
|Oct 08, 2020||Thu||Samuel Pepys' Personal Account of the 1665 Great Plague of London Discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 12, 2020||Mon||Comments and Conversation||due by 02:00AM|
|Oct 15, 2020||Thu||The 1919 Influenza - Part 1 Discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 19, 2020||Mon||Comments and Conversation||due by 02:00AM|
|Oct 22, 2020||Thu||The 1919 Influenza - Part 2 Discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 26, 2020||Mon||Comments and Conversation||due by 02:00AM|
|Oct 29, 2020||Thu||Embracing Hopelessness Discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Nov 02, 2020||Mon||Comments and Conversation||due by 03:00AM|
|Nov 05, 2020||Thu||Moving Beyond Hopelessness Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 09, 2020||Mon||Comments and Conversation||due by 03:00AM|
|Nov 12, 2020||Thu||Hoping Against Hope Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 16, 2020||Mon||Comments and Conversation||due by 03:00AM|
|Nov 19, 2020||Thu||F*cking with the Shitstems Discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 21, 2020||Sat||Academic Decorum||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 21, 2020||Sat||Final Exam||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 23, 2020||Mon||Comments and Conversation||due by 03:00AM|