Understanding Katrina



This course will examine the theological, ethical, practical and political problems presented by Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005 and its effects on the city of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Underneath over-arching theological themes of invisibility, marginalization, otherness, suffering, resilience, transformation, and hope, we will examine the effects of Katrina—with particular attention to issues of race, class, gender, poverty, health, environment, labor, diaspora, senses of place and home, and the theological and political requirements for relief and recovery.  Theological readings will draw heavily from womanist and liberation theologies and from narrative accounts of theodicy, suffering and evil. The practical theological focus will incorporate literary, artistic, cultural, social, economic, and political dimensions of these problems.  This course should be of interest to students with practical, political, and pastoral interests in helping communities recovering from natural disaster, war, and other instances of violence and disruption.

News Item:  “When the Moment Passes” Harvard Divinity News, Spring 2006


“Excellent survey of materials related to the human implications of disaster, recovery, suffering, and ethics!”

 “The topics addressed in the course were phenomenal–really an excellent investigation of interdependent issues.”

 “I thought the inclusion of guest speakers was great, giving us access to many viewpoints. The course pack was extremely thorough and helpful. The audiovisual material was at the same time some of the most evocative and interesting material, and by necessity rather overwhelming in its volume. Sometimes the amount of material was overwhelming, but I wouldn’t want to eliminate access to any of it.”

 “Exceedingly effective compilation of post-Katrina literature and background theory—from fiction to Spike Lee. This class would not be complete without visual material. Excellent use of film and news clips.”

 “Prof. Green buried us in resources with which to consider the impact of the storm—too much is ‘TRULY’ never enough when looking at such a broad topic. ”

 “Very informative and captivating, highly relevant. Extensive and excellent use of contemporary day-to-day issues.”

 “It has been profoundly useful to my understanding of many aspects of the society in which I live, and can’t fail to be useful to my course of study. It has been an incredible opportunity to explore something so immediate and also frightening in such thoughtful depth. It is an invaluable experience of interaction in your own world and history.”

 “I am pleased that I selected this course as an entering student. I anticipate it influencing my thoughts on charity, solidarity, feminist theology, and more. Rarely do I find a course with as much contemporary relevancy as I see here.”

 “Every educational institution should have a class like this.  It’s timely, relevant, synthetic, dynamic, and a real opportunity to combine ideas/theory with praxis.”

 “Very useful—very relevant to the situation in the US—very current. Current, thought-provoking, challenging personally as well as academically. Excellent topic, readings, very relevant to society.”

 “Very useful because I hope to either work in disaster relief or other social services. I enjoy the relevancy of a course dealing with a topic which is still being discussed.”

 “The nature of this course was exceptional—so much material in such a short time.”

 “Excellent prof. Excellent course. Very complex and inspiring.”

 “It helped me greatly to understand ways to consider Katrina in many varied lights. This will be invaluable to me in ministry and it will allow me to see many issues through the lens of Katrina. It helped me to process something that was very close to home. It needs to stay in the public eye. Merci beaucoup/Thank you, Professor Green.”