Rhythm and Ethics

Although we are rarely aware of it, rhythm acts as a conductor for all sorts of human relationships. Rhythm communicates emotion and holds large groups of people together through practices like dance, ritual, or protest. It forms our experience of space-time, which determines how we view and relate to the world at large. It is the channel of communication between mind and body. Illness and health can be distinguished on the basis of rhythm. Particular rhythms encourage certain ways of being in and perceiving the world. Habits, both virtuous and vicious, can be thought of as rhythms. As such, rhythm is arguably an important dimension of any approach to ethics concerned with formation, including Christian ethics. Understanding how certain rhythms encourage certain dispositions and behaviors and discourage others is an ingredient in constructing arguments about which routines, institutions, practices, and habits should be proposed by a Christian ethics. Yet this ingredient has not yet been analyzed.

While this research tutorial gives students an opportunity to explore this topic, it is also an opportunity for students to learn and practice the research skills that they will need for their senior projects, graduate school, or other professional contexts. Much of the focus will therefore be on the development and analysis of these skills, with the material functioning as an opportunity for practice. The material is organized into four modules: rhythm in the Christian’s relationship to God, one’s self, others, and the world at large. Groups of students will be responsible for one of these modules, during which they will practice skills like identifying useful information within a larger body of information, developing goals for their research, devising strategies to reach those goals, and evaluating their effectiveness. The module will also serve as the general topic for students’ final research projects, which they will write individually but disseminate as a group according to one of theology’s avenues of research dissemination.

  • This course is a learner-centered course in which groups of students construct their own modules. Each student-led module session is summarized here.
  • Rhythm and Ethics Syllabus