Course: Sexual Ethics


Sexuality is sacred. 

Sexual Ethics, with Megan Dowdell, is an intensive course that examines the role of sexual health for faith communities and their leaders.

It is offered through Starr King School for the Ministry, a member school of the Graduate Theological Union.

sexual-ethicsStudents engage key theological, ethical, and public health perspectives on themes in sexual ethics, including:

  • sexual freedom and responsibility
  • pleasure and desire
  • relationships
  • meaningful consent
  • power
  • prophetic witness for sexual justice

The course serves two purposes for graduate students: it provides a rigorous and supportive academic environment to explore these themes and relevant questions through deep reflection and the co-creation of knowledge. Also, for those students pursuing professional forms of ministry and religious leadership, it is an opportunity to develop and demonstrate their competency in professional clergy sexual ethics and promoting sexually healthy congregations.

Particular emphasis is paid to multi-religious, queer, and womanist/feminist voices on sexuality and faith. This dedication is integrated throughout the course instruction and reflected in the selected readings, forms of dialogue, and pathways to learning provided. Students will not be required to have prior experience in ethics, theology, or philosophy, but those entering without formal preparation in ethics or sociology will need to complete brief introductory reading in addition to the readings and written assignments required for the first day of the seminar. A final project will be announced and turned into the instructor at an assigned date/time.

The general structure is a week-long seminar that meets Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm, with ample time provided for nourishing food, spiritual practices, breaks, and solo study time. Students who expect to successfully complete the course should not plan to miss any sessions during the week. Also, they can expect to spend up to three hours on (at least two) weekday evenings, completing additional reading or assignments, possibly in a small group.

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