Networked Lives & Spiritual Direction

Fall 2017
M 3:30-5:30pm
Area V
Permission Not Required
Limited Enrollment
Course Description: 

Social media is a tool that people use to communicate and embody their visions of the good life in multiple forms: status updates, videos, articles, blog posts, photos, memes. Additionally, social media engagement both reveals and continually shapes a person’s theology. Therefore, social media and our engagement with it must be considered theologically. This sort of critical reflection on social media engagement requires social media literacy which is necessary for flourishing in a social media-saturated culture. This course draws on the research of media scholars, religious scholars, and educators to equip Christian leaders (in churches, the academy, and otherwise) to model and teach social media literacy by helping leaders shape environments that will guide people (e.g. congregants and students) in theological reflection on social media’s values, practices, and necessary competencies as well as their social media engagement. 

Background Expected: 


Course Requirements: 
  1. Content, Book Review, four 250-word Reading Responses: 925 pages reading, including 75 pages of biblical text.
  2. Class Participation: Students will engage, reflect, and create through instruction, participation, presentation, discussion, and practical theology methodology.
  3. Group Presentation: Students will engage and present on the following questions:

  How did Jesus use technology? (e.g. boats, roads, coins, scrolls)

  How did Jesus connect with and communicate with people?

  How did Jesus’ self-understanding relate to his self-presentation?

  What sorts of attitudes, behaviors, and practices marked Jesus’ life? How does Jesus’ life help us to discern how we might relate to new forms of technology, like social media?

Students will have time during the class sessions to prepare the presentation together. 

     4. Individual Presentation: Each student will have time during the class to critically and theologically reflect on their personal media engagement (or lack thereof) in order to prepare for the presentation. Each student will present on their personal engagement with social media and reflect on a particular social media platform’s values and biases. Each student will be asked to discuss one of the following: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr.

      5. Term paper: Each student will articulate a theology of social media and will reflect on social media engagement and their ministry context or the kind of context they hope to work in someday (ministry context could be a church, parachurch, non-profit, institution, etc.) integrating course content, activities, presentations, and discussion. Each student will describe how to shape a learning community that guides others in theological reflection on social media’s values, practices, and necessary competencies and their social media engagement and assists people in articulating and embodying a positive vision of flourishing life in a social media-saturated culture. (1750-2000 words total, excluding footnotes).

Basis of Evaluation: 

Viewing/Reading Content, Book Review (10%)

Four 250-word Reading Responses (20%): 

Class Participation (15%)

Group Presentation (15%)

Individual Presentation (15%)

Term paper (25%)

Total: 100%