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Courses

At Emory University, students can explore courses in law and religion offered by Emory Law, Candler School of Theology, and the Graduate Division of Religion. The Center for the Study of Law and Religion maintains robust course offerings that allow students to investigate the legal, theological, historical, sociological, and anthropological dimensions of law and religion. Below are some of the recent courses in law and religion taught at Emory. Many are cross-listed for credit in law, theology, and religion.

Instructor: John Witte, Jr.

Semesters Taught: Spring 2016, 2015

School: Law

The main aim of this course is to understand the evolution of American law in intellectual, political, social, and economic context. We shall analyze the emerging American legal understandings of authority and power, rights and liberties, individuals and associations. We shall witness the gradual and painful efforts, only partly successful in this period, to include slaves and servants, women and children, natives and immigrants within the ambit of legal protection. And we shall focus on the transformation of constitutional law, criminal law, and private laws of marriage, property, contract, and commerce in the first century after the American Revolution. Much of what we now take for granted in our American legal system today, we shall see, was forged in the remarkable century of legal development between the Revolution and the Civil War. Part I of this course focuses on the colonial legal system, particularly in Massachusetts and Virginia, viewed against the prevailing law of England and the Continent. Part II deals with the remarkable development of American constitutionalism in the young American nation, at both the state and federal levels. Part III analyzes the transformation of American private law and criminal law in the first half of the nineteenth century. Part IV traces the painful struggle over slavery and abolition, culminating the American Civil War and passage of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Instructor: Rafael Domingo

Semesters Taught: Spring 2015

School: Law

Canon Law, the law of the Catholic Church, stands at the origin of the Western Legal Tradition and is one of the chief sources of legal concepts and principles we take for granted today. This course will explore the theological and historical background of Canon Law, as well as contemporary Canon Law practice and principles set out in 1983 Code of Canon Law and post-1983 legislation. The course will cover such topics as marriage and family life; clerical conduct and misconduct; church governance at the universal, intermediary, and local levels; the interwoven roles of the papacy, bishops, synod of bishops, college of cardinals, and Roman Curia; the division of church power among provinces and regions, metropolitans, particular councils, and local parishes; and some controverted questions concerning the rights and obligations of ordained diocesan clerics.

Instructor: Micael Perry

Semesters Taught: Spring 2017

School: Law

In the last half-century, the Supreme Court of the United States has resolved, on the basis of the Constitution of the United States, several greatly contested "rights" controversies—controversies concerning, e.g., gun control, capital punishment, race-based affirmative action, abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and, most recently, same-sex marriage. This course will cover those (and other) controversies, and students will evaluate the Supreme Court’s decisions. A principal, recurring issue throughout the course: In resolving such controversies, what role should the Supreme Court play: how large a role, or how small?

Instructor: Ellen Ott-Marshall

Semesters Taught: Spring 2012, Fall 2014

School: GDR

Drawing on the approach of Ernst Troeltsch and H. Richard Niebuhr, this seminar studies Christian ethics by exploring the relationship between faith and history. After an introduction to this triadic framework, students will use it as a lens to study the work of contemporary scholars in Christian ethics. (Figures may include: Walter Rauschenbusch, Reinhold Niebuhr, Jürgen Moltmann, James Gustafson, Wendy Farley, Anthony Pinn, Sallie McFague, Cheryl Kirk- Duggan, and Miguel de la Torre.) While working through this material, students will focus on the ways in which the authors construe the relationship between faith and history in order to foster a particular ethical disposition. Thus, the central question of the course becomes: How should one negotiate between faith and history?

Instructor: Alexander Volokh

Semesters Taught: Fall 2015

School: Law

English legal history began around the year 600, when King Aethelberht of Kent promulgated his famous legal code: "If a person strikes off a thumb, 20 shillings. If a thumbnail becomes off, let him pay 3 shillings. If a person strikes off a forefinger, let him pay 9 shillings. If a person strikes off a middle finger, let him pay 4 shillings. . . ." From Aethelberht to modern-day workers compensation codes (in Georgia, $60,000 for the loss of a hand) is but a brief step. But in between, we get to cover Domesday Book, Magna Carta, the dissolution of the monasteries, the Instrument of Government, and the Bill of Rights. This course is a survey of the law of England between, approximately, the years 600 and 1800. Why study English legal history? There are at least two possible reasons: (1) to know "how we got here from there" and thus to better understand our modern legal system, or (2) to understand the period on its own terms, that is, to see what it was like to be a lawyer in the 14th century. I'm personally partial to approach (2), but there will be plenty for those who favor approach (1) as well.

Instructor: Mark Goldfeder

Semesters Taught: Spring 2016, 2015, 2014

School: Law

This is an introductory study of the United States Constitution, including judicial review, the powers of Congress, the powers of the president, and the interrelationship of state and national governments. Course includes an introduction to individual rights, with emphasis on the operation of the Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection clauses.

Instructor: John Witte, Jr.

Semesters Taught: Fall 2014, Spring 2017

School: Law

This course will explore the interaction between religious and political authorities and institutions from the time of the Roman Empire until the American founding era. Students will analyze the variety of constitutional arrangements developed to facilitate the separation, cooperation, and mutual protection of churches and states as well as the gradual development of religious rights and liberties in the Western legal tradition, but also the systematic and oft-brutal denial of these rights to Jews, heretics, and other religious outsiders. Students will analyze the competition among different models of church and state that emerged repeatedly in the West, and the remarkable change introduced by the First Amendment command to disestablish religion and to protect the free exercise rights of all.

Instructor: John Witte, Jr.

Semesters Taught: Spring 2012, Fall 2013

School: Law

Few issues are more controversial today than those concerning sexuality, marriage, and family life.  Same-sex marriage, polygamy, contraception, abortion, non-marital birth, adoption, children’s rights, and more are only a few of the subjects of deep and bitter cultural and constitutional wars today.  This course seeks to place these and other issues in deep historical context.  The course traces the shifting norms and forms of sexuality, marriage, and family life, with a focus on five main periods in the West: 1) biblical and classical Graeco-Roman times; 2) the high Middle Ages; 3) the Protestant Reformation era; 4) the modern Enlightenment era; and 5) contemporary America.

Instructor: Jehu Hanciles

Semesters Taught: Spring 2013

School: Candler

Massive post-1965 immigration is radically transforming American society and religious life, with profound implications for the ministry and witness of the church. This course introduced students to a biblical and historical understanding of human migration. It also examines the concepts, major trends, critical issues, and variety of challenges associated with contemporary realities from a Christian Perspective. Particular attention will be given to the importance of South-North migration for understanding long-term developments within global Christianity; the formation and missionary significance of proliferating new immigrant congregations (African, Asian, and Hispanic); Christian ministry in a context of vibrant religious plurality; and the ongoing de-Europeanization of American Christianity.

Instructor: Johan van der Vyer

Semesters Taught: Spring 2016, 2015, 2014

School: Law

This course focuses on international concerns for the upholding of human rights standards in legal systems of the world. It defines the concept of human rights, and distinguishes different categories of human rights that have developed over the years, namely (a) natural rights of the individual; (b) civil and political rights; (c) economic, social and cultural rights; and (d) solidarity rights. General problems relating to the theoretical basis of human rights will come under the spotlight in this section, including the universality and relativity of human rights, and the right to self-determination of peoples. The course further deals with mechanisms for the protection and promotion of international human rights at three distinct levels: (a) globally, under auspices of the United Nations Organization, with emphasis on the binding effect of the human rights standards enunciated in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, promotion and protection of those rights by the Human Rights Council, and the proclamation and enforcement of certain categories of rights in virtue of international conventions and covenants sponsored by the United Nations; (b) regionally, in Europe under auspices of the Council of Europe, the European Union, and the Helsinki Accord, in the Americas under auspices of the Organization of American States; and in Africa under auspices of the African Union; and (c) thematically, under auspices of specialized agencies such as the International Labor Organization (ILO) and UNESCO.

Instructor: Johan van der Vyer

Semesters Taught: Spring 2016, 2015, 2014

School: Law

September 11th, the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and the status of Afghani captives being held at Guantanamo Bay; the testing and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction; the violent conflict in Israel and Palestine, and in Libya; and attempts to establish an Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq are all matters that come within the range of international humanitarian law: the law of armed conflict. International humanitarian law applies to and in times of armed conflict and differentiates between international armed conflicts and armed conflicts not of an international character. The course will explore the legitimacy of, for example, wars of liberation, the right to self-defense, and humanitarian intervention, with special emphasis on the war in Iraq, the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the use of armed force in Libya, and the current bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq. Questions such as the legality of the threat or use of a wide spectrum of armament, ranging from dumdum bullets to nuclear, bacteriological and chemical weapons, as well as legitimate/illegitimate targets of an armed attack, will be considered. Matters such as the treatment of prisoners of war and of the wounded and sick soldiers, and the protection of civilians and civilian objects, including cultural property, in times of war will come under the spotlight.

Instructor: Abdullahi An-Na¿im

Semesters Taught: Fall 2014, 2013

School: Law

This course will introduce students to the nature, sources and techniques of Islamic Law (Shari`a), and its main concepts, principles, and rules.  Class discussions will also focus on the relationship between Shari`a and modern legal systems, as well as its social and cultural impact on present Islamic societies. Following a discussion of the nature, sources, and early development of Shari`a, students will review the main substantive aspects of this legal tradition, namely, property and transactions, family law, criminal law, and constitutional law and inter-communal (international) law. Lastly, the course will look at the relationship between Shari`a and the legal systems of modern states, through an examination of the legal systems of Iran and Pakistan.

Instructor: Vincent Cornell

Semesters Taught: Spring 2013

School: GDR

The purpose of this seminar is to introduce graduate students in Middle Eastern Studies, Religion, and related fields to the major schools and problems of premodern Islamic religious thought. A major premise of the course is that contemporary trends in Islamic thought have historical antecedents in early and medieval Islamic theology and philosophy. This class is designed to provide a knowledge base from which graduate students can better contextualize contemporary Islamic theology in their research. The seminar invites graduate students and advanced undergraduates in a variety of disciplines to read and discuss Islamic texts, and become acquainted with the rich and diverse universe of Islamic intellectual life.

Instructor: Michael Broyde

Semesters Taught: Spring 2016, 2015, 2012

School: Law

This course will survey the principles Jewish (or Talmudic) law uses to address difficult legal issues and will compare these principles to those that guide legal discussion in America. In particular, this course will focus on issues raised by advances in medical technology such as surrogate motherhood, artificial insemination, and organ transplant. Through discussion of these difficult topics, many areas of Jewish law will be surveyed.

Instructor: Silas Allard

Semesters Taught: Fall 2015

School: Law

In this course, students will survey the interdisciplinary field of law and religion. The course will begin by discussing the nature of the field known as law and religion. What areas of inquiry constitute this field? What do we mean when we talk about "law" and "religion"? The course will then cover different substantive areas and methodological approaches by reading, analyzing, and critiquing examples of law and religion scholarship from leading scholars. Students will be asked to think about the choices that scholars make: What is the relationship of law and religion in this example of scholarship? What does the scholar draw on as evidence for her argument? How does the scholar construct his argument? How does the scholar think about law? How does the scholar think about religion? These and other questions will help students understand how different approaches function; what they can achieve; what they cannot achieve; and why a scholar would choose a certain approach. By the conclusion of the course, students will (1) understand the scope and subjects covered by the field of law and religion, (2) develop an understanding of different methodological approaches to the study of law and religion, and (3) be prepared to use different methodological approaches in their own writing.

Instructor: Timothy Jackson

Semesters Taught: Fall 2011

School: GDR

Instructor: Steve Tipton

Semesters Taught: Spring 2013, Fall 2014

School: GDR

This seminar explores the relationship between the distinctive moral ideals and practical experience of social life and its varied institutional arrangements, including the moral implications of social modernization for conceiving persons individually and evaluating their globally structured relations. It maps diverse moral logics and constituencies across cultural traditions seen as con-tinuities of conflict over socially shared ways of life, for example, in the Greek polis and the early Christian ekklesia. It probes the processes of making, sharing, and contesting moral meaning. It weighs their role in inspiring social action and judging social institutions to shape powerful social conflict as well as order. The course charts the sociology of morality as a field by marshaling thematically related works in sociology and social theory, moral and political philosophy, comparative religious ethics and cultural anthropology to span classical theories and recent empirical studies of contemporary American moral life, with a comparative eye to Chinese and Islamic societies today. Topics include racial and gender inequality, public participation, religious conflict, politics and markets, hard work, and romantic love.

Instructor: Bobbi Paterson

Semesters Taught: Spring 2013

School: GDR

What changes or shifts when histories and cultures of American and Trans-American Religions are examined through the lenses of place and space? From foundational to current theories and methods, this course will explore a range of approaches including: human and regional geography, socially and politically produced space, and topophila, affective bonds, meaning making between people and place. Placing these approaches in dialogue with historical and contemporary examples of American and Trans-American religious cultures, students will consider place as content of the human condition an evolving way of being in the world, and/or commoditized, material destination. Students will consider how and why memory and imagination construct religious practices of place from home-making, to nation-crafting, to sacred searching. Studying forms of resistance to place-making that attempt to modify or deconstruct sacred meaning and power, our analysis will include dynamics of urban/suburban, race, gender, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. What are the ethical consequences of placing American Religions? Finally, students will interrogate current claims that we are living in an increasingly religiously placeless or global world.

Instructor: Ellen Ott-Marshall

Semesters Taught: Spring 2016

School: GDR

Traditionally, ethicists refer to the debate over the moral justification of war as “the question of war.” This course includes writings by Bonhoeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr, John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and Michael Walzer to discuss the moral justification. Increasingly, however, ethicists find themselves addressing multiple questions of war. For this reason, “Questions of War” in the spring of 2016 will also examine contemporary issues, such as the use of torture, drones, genocide and humanitarian intervention, moral injury and trauma, and the reality of child soldiers.

Instructor: Thee Smith

Semesters Taught: Spring 2013, Fall 2014

School: GDR

The point of departure for this course is a working hypothesis: every religious tradition conveys distinctive resources for fostering and adjudicating human rights and conducting faith-based conflict interventions. Even so, a corollary follows here, we discover repeated instances where each tradition needs other religions as well as secular humanist resources in order sometimes first to recognize and acknowledge, and then interrupt and counteract, its chronic human rights violations. It appears that no single religious tradition or cultural institution has ever demonstrated adequate competence or proficiency with regard to ameliorating all of its characteristic ‘crimes against humanity.’ Collectively however these wisdom traditions may convey an invaluable supplement to aid in achieving each religion’s own ideals. By the end of this course class members will share an interreligious collation of such resources based on surveys of the world religions and of selected case studies.

Instructor: Elizabeth Bounds

Semesters Taught: Fall 2012

School: GDR

Instructor: Rafael Domingo

Semesters Taught: Spring 2016

School: Law

In the thousand years between the Law of the Twelve Tables (451 BC) and Justinian's massive Corpus Iuris Civilis (530 AD), the Romans developed the most sophisticated and comprehensive secular legal system of antiquity. Roman law is still at the heart of the civil law tradition of the European Continent and some of its former colonies in the Americas, Asia, and Africa, and it was instrumental in the development of international law, the church’s canon law, and the common law tradition. The Roman lawyers created new legal concepts, ideas, rules and mechanisms that are still applied in the most Western legal systems. Specifically designed for American law students without a civil law or canon law background, this course introduces the Roman legal system in its social, political, and economic context. The course will cover the fundamental topics of private law (persons, property and inheritance, and obligations); the revival of Roman law in the Middle Ages; and the current impact of Roman law in the era of globalization.

Instructor: Elizabeth Bounds

Semesters Taught: Spring 2012, fall 2015

School: GDR

This course examines a selection of contemporary critical theories of justice and politics, in dialogue with selected work in Christian political discourse. Students work comparatively by placing these theorists in conversation with one another; and work critically by evaluating these theories on their own merits and in light of contemporary social problems and contexts. Beginning with the liberal accounts of justice offered by John Rawls and Reinhold Niebuhr, the course continues through a variety of different forms of critiques of liberal justice, including a cluster of recent works on political theology that primarily engage with Christian theology. Key questions include: the nature of the public sphere in a globalizing world, the limits of the nation state, the role of religion or theology in the public sphere, the violence of the state, the construction/formation of citizens.

Instructor: Pam Hill

Semesters Taught: Fall 2012, 2014

School: GDR

This course will explore the English and American novel as a resource for ethics and theology. How can the genre of the novel helps us to understand and imagine the character of human experience, of challenges to human flourishing, and possible expressions of human relationship to the divine? We may ask: how do novels represent, and also help to develop, ethical imagination? How is such imagination crucial for ethical formation and agency? Most of all: How may we most richly imagine the self as a ground for ethics and the self’s journeys in the world towards the good? How might we most richly imagine the self as embodied and enmeshed in its social worlds, as experiencing tragedy, justice, mercy, love? The approach of this seminar will be broadly humanistic and philosophical, focused much less on a “critical theory” of any kind than on detailed discussion of the specific novels with their specific visions and voices. Some novels will be historical and canonical; some will be contemporary.

Instructor: Gary Laderman

Semesters Taught: Spring 2012

School: GDR

This seminar will be an opportunity for students to explore both the history of and recent trends in theory and method in the study of religion. The course will look at an assortment of books and articles, thinkers and innovators, that have made an impact in the field from disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.