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CHTH320 Public Theology and Social Justice

An examination of public theology’s contribution to social justice, through case studies of contemporary public issues, such as poverty, family violence, human trafficking, and environmental stewardship.

Why does social justice matter for Christian faith? What does public theology have to contribute on social issues, and how should it address public debates?

This paper develops a critical and constructive public theology approach to a variety of contemporary social justice issues, with attention to the local, national and global context in which they arise.

Paper title Public Theology and Social Justice
Paper code CHTH320
Subject Christian Thought and History
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Second Semester, Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $868.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,656.70

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One 200-level CHTH or CHTX paper
CHTH 420
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
Any student can study Theology, whether they are of the Christian faith, another faith or of no religious faith at all. Theology is an examination of the scriptures, history, content and relevance of the Christian faith, but it presupposes or requires no Christian commitment from students. All it requires is an inquiring mind and an interest in those skills that can be gained through the study of any subject in the Humanities.
Teaching staff
Dr Derek Woodard-Lehman
Paper Structure
  • Two essays (2,000 words) - 30% each
  • One essay (3,000 words) - 40%
Teaching Arrangements
Campus: There will be one 2-hour videoconferenced lecture each week.

Distance: There will be one teaching day and four videoconferences.
No textbook required. A course book has been developed for this paper, and other resources will be provided electronically.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
By the end of our paper, you will be:
  • Able to recognise, explain and evaluate various conceptions of 'public theology' and 'social justice'
  • Able to identify and evaluate a range of biblical and theological arguments motivating Christian engagement in public life
  • Aware of important Church-based social movements in twentieth-century public life; able to compare and contrast their differing social, historical, political and theological dimensions; and able to assess their strengths and weaknesses
  • Familiar with a range of contemporary social issues and able to analyse various viewpoints on them
  • Able to explain and defend your own viewpoint on these social issues
Course outline
View the course outline for CHTH 320

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
T1 Thursday 15:00-20:50 30

Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 14:00-15:50 28, 31-34, 36-41