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Course Number: STP 805
Course Title: Catholic Social Teaching
Term: Summer 2014   (Version March 27, 2014)

Professor

Professor: Dr. Cynthia Toolin

Email: ctoolin@holyapostles.edu

1. COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is constructed to partially fulfill the Holy Apostles College and Seminary mission statement “to cultivate lay, consecrated and ordained Catholic leaders for the purpose of evangelization.”

To be able to evangelize, a future leader must have a working knowledge of Church doctrine. This course exposes the student to the teachings of Catholic Social Teachings. The student will learn about representative Catholic Social Teachings thought and be exposed to several important magisterial documents. In this course, the student is required to demonstrate knowledge of Catholic Social Teachings through eleven weekly postings.

But to be able to evangelize, knowing basic doctrine is not enough. The evangelizer must be able to recall the doctrine and interpret it in a manner applicable to the situation. Rarely will the leader be asked to present formal lessons on Catholic Social Teachings. More often the situation will be one where the leader needs to explain or support the Church’s articulated doctrine against error or heresy by formulating a correct answer to a question, or contrasting true Church authentic teaching with that of other religious or secular thought. In this course, the student is challenged to develop such answers in a series of two real-life scenario papers and a term paper.

This is how the content of the course is categorized. Using the suggestions made by the United States Catholic Bishops in their publication, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions, the following seven topics will be addressed:

  1. Life and dignity of the human person,
  2. Call to family, community and participation,
  3. Rights and responsibilities,
  4. Option for the poor and vulnerable,
  5. The dignity of work and the right of workers,
  6. Solidarity, and
  7. Ecology.

2. ENVISIONED LEARNING OUTCOMES

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to locate and define major concepts in, and recall overarching themes of, the several components of Catholic Social Teachings in order to construct and present the information in a formal and informal manner.
  2. Students will demonstrate a working knowledge (defined as the ability to recall, paraphrase, and interpret) of Church doctrine as opposed to the teaching of other religious or secular thought by applying it in given scenarios.
  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to formulate answers to common questions to prepare him or her to explain authentic Church teaching as presented in magisterial documents as opposed to the teaching of other religious or secular thought.

3. TEXT MATERIAL AND RESOURCES 

The reading material for this course is available online.

4. SUGGESTED READINGS

Optional readings are listed in the weekly schedule.

5. WEEKLY SCHEDULE

Week 1: Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching

This week you will begin to learn about Catholic Social Teaching. You will learn about the direction given by the United States Bishops in approaching this topic. You will also learn about Papal and general Catholic thinking in this area. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read the first document, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions.

Optional Reading:

Read Chapter 2 of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (henceforth Compendium)

Week 2: Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Part I

This week you will learn about John Paul II's encyclical The Gospel of Life, or Evangelium Vitae. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read John Paul II's encyclical, The Gospel of Life.

Week 3: Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Part II

We continue last week's topic by looking at two statements made by the United States Bishops, one on racial and economic justice and one on capital punishment. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read the U.S. Bishops Pastoral Letter, Brothers and Sisters to Us.

Optional Reading:

Read the U.S. Bishops' Statement on Capital Punishment.

Week 4: Family, Community and Participation, Part I

This week you will learn what Leo XIII said in his encyclical, On Capital and Labor, or Rerum Novarum, concerning the worker and the family. You have no posting assignment this week as your first written assignment is due. It is described below.

Required Reading:

Read Leo XIII's encyclical, On Capital and Labor.

Week 5: Family, Community and Participation, Part II

We return to John Paul II's work, his encyclical, On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum, or Centesimus Annus. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read John Paul II's encyclical, On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum.

Optional Reading:

Read the Compendium, Chapter 5.

Week 6: Rights and Responsibilities, Part I

This week you will learn about the United States Bishops statement, Economic Justice for All. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read Economic Justice for All.

Week 7: Rights and Responsibilities, Part II

We continue last week's topic by looking at what the United States Bishops said about investments in Principles for Investments and in Investment Policies. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read Principles for Investments and in Investment Policies.

Optional Reading:

Read the Compendium, Chapter 3.

Week 8: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, Part I

This week you will learn what Paul VI said in his encyclical, On the Development of Peoples, or Populorum Progressio concerning the option for the poor. You have no posting assignment this week as your second written assignment is due. It is described below.

Required Reading:

Read Paul VI's encyclical, On the Development of Peoples.

Optional Reading:

Read John XXIII's encyclical, On Christianity and Social Progress.

Week 9: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, Part II

We will continue last week's topic by looking at John Paul II's analysis of the option in his encyclical, On Social Concern, or Sollicitudo Rei Socialis. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read John Paul II's encyclical, On Social Concern.

Optional Reading:

Read the Compendium, Chapter 7.

Week 10: Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers, Part I

This week you will learn about what Pius XI said in his encyclical, On the Reconstruction of the Social Order, or Quadragesimo Anno, concerning work and workers.The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read On the Reconstruction of the Social Order.

Week 11: Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers, Part II

This week you will learn about John Paul II's analysis of work in his brilliant encyclical, On Human Work, or Laborem Exercens. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read John Paul II's encyclical, On Human Work.

Week 12: Solidarity

This week you will learn what John XXIII said about solidarity in his encyclical, Peace on Earth, or Pacem in Terris. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read John XXIII's encyclical, Peace on Earth.

Optional Reading:

Read the U.S. Bishops' Pastoral Letter, War and Peace.

Week 13: Ecology and Themes in Catholic Social Teachings

This week we will learn what the United States Bishops said about ecology in Renewing the Earth. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Required Reading:

Read the U.S. Bishops' statement, Renewing the Earth.

Week 14: Themes in Catholic Social Teachings

This week we will finish the course and by examining the overarching themes we found in Catholic social teachings. The posting assignment is listed in the Lessons tab.

Read about the major themes in Catholic social teachings

Week 15:  Term Paper Due

The term paper assignment is listed below.

6. COURSE REQUIREMENTS

1. Discussion Postings.

In weeks when a discussion post is required, you must post your summary, questions, and answer by Wednesday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time.

Summary: A summary should be not more than 400 words long, with enough information to enable you to important points and themes in each. Make sure you include important definitions in your summary (e.g., What does subsidiarity mean? What does just war tradition mean?)

Questions and Answer: Continue the post as follows. Select one important statement from the reading. (Note that in weeks where more than one reading is assigned, select one for this portion of the post.) Construct one to three questions from the statement you have selected. Answer the question as if you were speaking to a nominal Catholic. Keep in mind your role as a future Catholic evangelist and leader. Remember your audience so that you will formulate questions and answers appropriate to the person you are addressing!

You must address the questions and answers of at least three (3) other students by Saturday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time.

You must post using the following procedure:

  1. Select "add" next to the Discussions header to the right of this page
  2. Use the following convention in Title: First and Last name, Week #
  3. Type in your summary, questions, and answer in Topic (I strongly suggest you  copy/paste this so you will not lose your work. DO NOT attach the work; copy and paste it.) This must be completed by Wednesday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time.
  4. Save when finished
  5. Read and respond to at least three peers and their posts. This must be completed by Saturday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time. 

The posting part of the course addresses Learning Outcome 1.

Exceptions to post after the 11:59 p.m. due dates will only be granted for serious cases, i.e. serious health/family issues… not for vacations. You must contact your professor for consideration of any exceptions. Thus, if permission is given to post beyond the weekly due date, you cannot receive full credit for the posting of that week.

For ease of reading, you will be adding your own discussion areas to post your summaries. Instructions on how to post your own discussion will be provided for you in each weekly lesson container. Please do not add your summary response as an attachment. I do not comment on postings unless a student has posted an error, an interesting point for further discussion, or a direct question. I do, however, read every post.

Note that 50% of your discussion posting grade is based on your summary, questions and answer and 50% is based on your responses to the questions and answer of three other students.

2. Complete all reading and writing assignments.

Reading assignments are listed in the lessons tab under the appropriate week.

You will have two written homework assignments to email to me at ctoolin@holyapostles.edu during the semester. They will be due on Saturday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, of Week 4 and Week 8. You will not have a Discussion Posting assignment those two weeks.

The writing assignments should be double spaced, Times New Roman Font 12, five pages long. In addition to five pages of text, there should be a title page, footnotes and a bibliography of sources you have used in constructing your answer.

If you need an extension on a writing assignment, please request it via email at least one week before the due date. If I do not receive a request, I will reduce the grade of the writing assignment by 1/2 grade each day that it is late. Thus an A writing assignment that is two days late could not receive a grade higher than B+. I am willing to grant extensions for serious reasons, such as health. However, if you need an extension for every writing assignment, you should probably postpone enrolling in distance learning courses until you have more free time."

The two written assignments address Learning Objective 2.

Week 4: Imagine a nominal Catholic, one not well informed in Church teachings, approaches you and argues that due to changes in medical techniques that prolong life, patients who want to opt for physician assisted suicide should be able to do so. Using the knowledge you have obtained in reading about Catholic Social Teachings, develop a well thought out, intelligent, cogent argument articulating the Church’s teaching on this issue. Remember that as a future Catholic evangelist and leader, you must answer arguments politely, defining terms, using themes a person can remember, taking into account the information the other has in his or her possession.

Week 8: Imagine a devout Catholic, one well informed in Church teachings, approaches you and questions how he can work for greater economic justice among the elderly. Using the knowledge you have obtained in reading about Catholic Social Teachings, develop a well thought out, intelligent, cogent argument articulating the Church’s teaching on this issue. Remember that as a future Catholic evangelist and leader, you must answer arguments politely, defining terms, using themes a person can remember, taking into account the information the other has in his or her possession.

3. Term Paper

You will have a term paper to email to me at ctoolin@holyapostles.edu by Friday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, of week 15.

The paper should be double spaced, Times New Roman Font 12, at least ten pages long. In addition to at least ten pages of text, there should be a title page, endnotes and a bibliography of sources you have used in constructing your answer.

The term paper addresses Learning Outcome 3.

Imagine you are having dinner with two Catholic friends. One is a fully Catholic person, but is not well acquainted with Catholic teaching. The other is a good person, but a nominal Catholic with secular leanings. Neither are familiar with Benedict XVI’s Catholic Social Teachings encyclical, Caritas in Vertiate, but argue anything Benedict said on social issues is irrelevant. Using the knowledge you have obtained in reading about Catholic Social Teachings this semester, develop a well thought out, intelligent, summary articulating one area of that encyclical and answering their argument of irrelevance. Remember that as a future Catholic evangelist and leader, you must answer arguments politely, defining terms, using themes people can remember, taking into account the information the others have in their possession.

7. GRADING

  • Writing Assignments 33%
  • Term Paper 37%
  • Discussion Postings 30%

My grading practice has developed over the last few years. In Populi, you will see grades for Posting Summary, Posting Response, Writing Assignments, and Term Paper depending on the week. When you receive your grades in Populi, you will see each is worth 100 points. Instead of giving a letter grade, all your work will be graded numerically. At the end of the semester the posting grades (composed of 50% being the summary, questions and answer and 50% being responses to the questions and answer of three other students) will be averaged and count for 30% of your final grade; the grades for your two writing assignments will be averaged and count for 33% of your final grade; and the grade for your term paper will count for 37% of your final grade.

8. DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS POLICY

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at rmish@holyapostles.edu or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.

9. ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl/resources).

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.

10. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

11. INCOMPLETE POLICY

An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.

12. ABOUT YOUR PROFESSOR

I am a Professor of Dogmatic and Moral Theology at Holy Apostles, where I have worked since 1997. I hold a Ph.D. and an M.A. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts, a ninety credit M.A. in theology from Holy Apostles, and an S.T.L. in moral theology from Dominican House of Studies.

(860) 632-3010