Theology, Technology, and Ethics

Offered in Spring 2011

Does theology have a role to play in response to the rapid advances in biotechnology, information technology, artificial intelligence, space exploration, and the more mundane but vital technologies integral to human living (e.g., transportation, electricity, and waste disposal)?  If so, what is that role?  How should it be played?  Why?  To what extent do the sparse reflections on the theology-technology-ethics relationship point to fruitful ways of engaging theologians now and in the near future?  What resources can various Christian traditions draw upon to advance theological reflection about technology and norms for guiding its development and use?  Is a "global" ethic possible and desirable?
     This special seminar considers these and other questions through readings, discussions, research, and writing. Key elements in the quest for answers include: (1) An historical overview of reflections on Christian theology, technology, and ethics; (2) critical exploration of distinct ways in which key theologians have thought about technology; (3) identification of current technological problems and concerns that require more meaningful and relevant theological reflection and discernment of moral norms; (4) sharing individual research on a technological concern from the perspective of a particular theological tradition; and (5) writing an in-depth seminar paper on that concern.
     Theology 8650 is conducted primarily as a seminar with opportunities for student input on the most effective ways of proceeding. Initial plans include having students lead discussions on assigned readings during the first part of the semester, consultation with Marquettee professors who are engaged in technological questions, and videoconferences with philosophers and theologians who focus on technology in general or specific technological issues. After the basics of theology-technology-ethics discourse are established, students identify key technological issues that concern them, the theological perspective from each wishes to explore an issue, and commence research. The remainder of the semester is dedicated to each student's leading a discussion on one or two significant articles/essays pertaining to the technological issue selected, reporting preliminary research findings on that issue from a specific theological perspective, and benefiting from collegial insights to facilitate writing a seminar paper on that topic. Culminating the seminar is a session on best practices for teaching an undergraduate or graduate course on this topic and a consultation with a professor in Marquette's Center for Teaching and Learning on current and anticipated technologies useful in a classroom.

Return to Courses
Contact Dr. Schaefer