James Calvin Davis

Professor of Religion

Academic Director, Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster

 
 work802.443.3221
 Fridays 1:00-4:00
 Munroe Hall 406

Professor Davis began teaching at Middlebury College in 2001.  He offers courses in Ethics and Christian Studies.  Beyond his teaching in the Religion Department, Professor Davis also serves as the co-director of the Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster.  

Primary Teaching Interests:

  • practical ethics (e.g., economic ethics, medical ethics, war & peace);
  • religion in American public life;
  • Christian history, theology, and ethics;
  • American religious history (especially Christianity in the U.S.).

Books:

  • The Moral Theology of Roger Williams (WJK, 2004);
  • On Religious Liberty: Selections from the Works of Roger Williams (Harvard, 2008);
  • In Defense of Civility: How Religion Can Unite America on Seven Moral Issues that Divide Us (WJK, 2010);
  • Forbearance: A Theological Ethic for a Disagreeable Church (Eerdmans, 2017).

 

Courses

Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE1506 - College and the Common Good      

College and the Common Good
Why attend a liberal arts college? The traditional purpose of a liberal arts education is the cultivation of virtuous citizens. In this seminar we will identify virtues necessary for democratic citizenship and ask how the arts and sciences can help develop them. We will explore ways in which residence on a liberal arts campus provides opportunity to practice civic virtue, shaping how we think about aspects of college life like distribution requirements, the Honor Code, internships, and financial aid. Finally, we will consider how these virtues prepare us for lifelong investment in the common good by examining the relevance of liberal learning to a range of contemporary social issues. CW PHL

Fall 2017

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RELI0190 - Ethics & Abrahamic Religion      

Ethics and Abrahamic Religion ET, WT
Ethics is the study of the values and convictions by which individuals and communities determine what is right, wrong, good, and bad. For many, religion is a lens through which to understand those moral values. In this course we will explore the varied contributions that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have made to debates over issues like violence, sex, the environment, human rights, and social justice. In the process of understanding these traditions and their impact on global moral discourse, students also will develop skills in ethical reasoning through class discussion and from the perspective of their own worldviews. 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc. PHL

Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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RELI0293 - Health Care Ethics      

Ethics in Health Care
This course is an introduction to the principles, virtues, and other moral norms that guide decision-making in health care. We will focus on moral values accepted by Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and humanistic traditions, and embedded in a liberal, pluralistic society. Popular films and numerous case studies will provide students an opportunity to develop skills in moral reasoning, in conversation with these intellectual traditions. The health care issues we will consider include expectations for patient-physician relationships, research on human subjects, euthanasia and assisted suicide, abortion, assisted reproduction, genetic information, and access to health care resources. 3 hrs. lect./disc. AMR NOR PHL

Fall 2013, Spring 2017

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RELI0298 / INTD0298 - Privilege and Poverty      

Privilege and Poverty: The Ethics of Economic Inequality
In this course we will study the ethical implications of domestic and global economic inequality. Drawing from history, economics, sociology, philosophy, theology, and other disciplines, we will examine the causes and consequences of inequality, critically evaluate our usage of the terms “privilege” and “poverty,” and consider the range of moral responses individuals and society might have to inequality. We will ask whether it is unfair, unfortunate, or necessary that some citizens live with significantly less material wealth than others, and whether those who experience “privilege” have any moral responsibility to those who exist in “poverty.” 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. PHL SOC

Winter 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017

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RELI0396 - War/Peace/Christian America      

War, Peace, and Christian America ET, WT
Many Christians have argued that war is morally justifiable in certain circumstances, while others have maintained that killing of any kind, even in the name of the state, is wrong. In this seminar we will examine the theological roots of pacifist, just-war, and crusader perspectives, and then consider how Christian interpretations of political violence have been used to support or dissent from American armed conflicts, from the Revolutionary War to the War in Iraq. Throughout the course, we will ask how American views on war have been shaped by the persistent interpretation of the U.S. as a “Christian nation.” 3 hrs. sem. HIS PHL

Fall 2013, Spring 2016

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RELI0398 - Amer Religion & Social Justice      

American Religion and Social Justice
Religious communities and organizations have contributed significantly to moral and social reform movements throughout U.S. history. From the colonial period to the present, religion has helped shape the discourse around issues like economic justice, racial equality, women’s rights, immigration, environmentalism, and LGBTQ rights. In this course we will study religious involvement in these social justice movements, critically examining the theologies that inspired both reform and resistance to social change. Throughout the course, we will consider the impact religion may have had—positive and negative—on struggles for social justice in the United States. 3 hrs. sem. AMR HIS NOR PHL

Spring 2015, Spring 2017

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RELI0500 - Independent Research      

Independent Research
(Approval Required)

Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018

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RELI0700 - Senior Project in Religion      

Senior Project
(Approval Required)

Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018

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RELI0701 - Senior Thesis in Religion      

Senior Research for Honors Candidates
Approval required

Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018

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Department of Religion

Munroe Hall
427 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753