Who is Our Neighbor?


eruc9tnCourse Description

In Luke 10, after Jesus has said that the two greatest commandments are to love God and neighbor, it says that a lawyer “wishing to justify himself” asks Jesus, “and who is my neighbor?” The well-known parable of the good Samaritan that Jesus tells in response suggests that knowing to whom we are called as neighbors requires keeping track of how our identities as strangers and neighbors are constructed. One of the ways that such identities are constructed is through our organizations of space. Space is not neutral; its constructions encourage certain ways of relating and discourage others. Using resources from cultural/human geography, social theory, and philosophy, this course interrogates the ways in which the spaces we occupy influence conceptions of community, justice, diversity, and power-relations, and considers theological resources for imagining space differently.

Student Comments

“I appreciated how this course pushed me to see different sides of narratives. My favorite thing from any class this whole school year was going to the prison. Never have I been put in a place like that where my presuppositions were challenged and broken. I now want to know what other communities I have put labels on and want to interact with those communities to challenge what I think I know. I also appreciated how [Dr. Eikelboom] would ask us challenging and uncomfortable questions. I still am wrestling with even finding the courage to look at my life and see who I have judged or oppressed. Almost even more uncomfortably I have to think about who has oppressed me and how I have reacted to that.”

“I did not realize it until we no longer had to do participant observations, but I realized how aware I became of the space and people around me. I continue to see things and wonder why they happen or why spaces are set-up in the ways they are. At the beginning I’ll admit I was reluctant, but by the end I found myself longing to make connections between people and space.”

“I appreciated the freedom of discussion. My freshman year, I thought discussions were mostly up to students but I see now it was still pretty heavily guided by professors (which makes sense to me). In this class, however, the discussion was very flexible and dependent on the students. I also appreciated the safe space for such difficult conversations. It helped me love my classmates better despite our differences or disagreements. And it helped me grow more open-minded and think more critically abut why things are the way they are.”

“I loved this course, I love that it gave me various frameworks from which to analyze daily life. I especially appreciated the different reading groups that we rotated through (summary, questions, conclusion, observe).”