Practicing Justice - Dr. Karen Crozier

Practicing Racial and Environmental Justice


Date: June 20-24, 2023

Time & Location: 10:00 AM-4:30 PM Daily,

June 20th-June 24th, 2023

(with work due before, during, and after the week on campus)


Karen Crozier, Ph.D.

Guest/Visiting Professor of Religion

Office Hours: By appointment in person, on the phone, or via Zoom
Phone: +1.559-931-1953
Email: [email protected]


Pronouns: she/her/hers

Preferred Name: Dr. Crozier, Dr. C., Dr. Karen, or Professor Crozier


Course Description

This week-intensive course examines the civil and human rights leadership, and thought, of Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) with particular attention on how racial and environmental justice were both practices and ends in her activism, advocacy, and organizing endeavors. In foregrounding Hamer, students will engage racial and environmental justice issues both today, and during the civil rights era of the 1960s -70s, at the intersection of race, gender, and class. Through the exploration of the Black family, Black church, and Black-led civil rights organizations as institutions that birthed and nurtured Hamer with an alternative, redemptive religious education, students will learn the continuity of racial and environmental justice practices and ends from those on the margins with an additional aim of increasing and reconstructing students’ capacities to practice racial and environmental justice in their respective social and institutional contexts.  


Course Objective

The intention of this course is to bring scholarship on Fannie Lou Hamer to service in the church and society, so that you can learn from a Black woman of faith in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and review, refine, and reconstruct your practice(s) of racial and environmental justice.  

By the end of the course, you will have examined practices of racial and environmental justice, and develop a critical understanding of the relationship between tradition and practice regarding racial and environmental justice through the life and legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer, by understanding and articulating how these practices of service were constructed through critical engagement with practical theologies and the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 70s.[1]



All required readings will be available in electronic form through the Fordham Libraries or in Blackboard. Students may choose to purchase any books on their own. Fannie Lou Hamer’s Revolutionary Practical Theology can be purchased for $25 since the library has the e-book. Please inform me if this is of interest to you. The Course Schedule in this syllabus specifies the digital location of each reading. You should anticipate that some e-books limit the number of people who can access the book at the same time. Getting access to readings early is the best way to avoid access problems for e-books. (Publishers and copyright law set the terms of access to e-books, not Fordham Libraries.)



Presence and Participation

Successful completion of the course requires students to be active participants: fully prepared for all classes, demonstrating respectful speaking and listening, and ready to discuss the course materials, including critical agreements, disagreements, questions, and connections made to theological material in students’ professional/pastoral work.

As a professional courtesy, and so as not to distract other students, cell phones must be off and away during class time, and personal computers should only be used for the work we are doing in class.



            • Before Summer session:

Required Reading:

  • Karen D. Crozier, Fannie Lou Hamer’s Revolutionary Practical Theology: Racial and Environmental Justice Concerns (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2021), the whole book.
  • Shannen Dee Williams, Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2022), introduction and chapters 4 -6.


Reflection and Articulation Paper:

This paper can be completed as you read, or after reading, the Before Summersession course required readings. This is your opportunity to reflect on your understanding and practice of racial and environmental justice as a religious practitioner in your respective context. Please cite sources using parentheses with the corresponding page number. In a 3-4-page, double-spaced paper, please respond to the following prompts and questions:

1) What does practicing justice mean to you as pastor/preacher, educator, counselor, organizer, liturgist, or another practitioner’s role not mentioned? Briefly describe your role and context.

2) Include at least two substantive examples of practicing justice that you do, have done, or desire to do in your respective institutional and/or social setting.

3) How are your practices theologically informed? How do your practices challenge, or differ from, commonly held doctrinal, magistral, and biblical beliefs and interpretations?

4) Who and/or what are the various sources you draw from in your practice(s) of justice?


Due at 10:00am Eastern USA time on June 12, 2023, in Blackboard. Read the essays of all students before our first class. Completing the work as assigned suffices for credit.


• During Summer session:

Additional required materials:

Maegan Parker Brooks and Davis W. Houck, The Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer: To Tell It Like It Is (Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2011), pp. 3 – 6, 134-139, 181-193.

Walter Earl Fluker and Catherine Tumber (Eds.), A Strange Freedom: The Best of Howard Thurman on Religious Experience and Public Life (Boston: Beacon Press, 1998), pp. 124-130.


• After Summer session:

Practical Theology Project: Students will create a research paper or other creative practical theological project that brings together their learning in the course and concentrates it in the direction of their intellectual project/practice of service. More information will be given in class.

Unless otherwise arranged, it is required that students do additional study of practical theology for their Practical Theology Project. Students will read an additional 50-100 pages from books and/or articles from the forthcoming list of books. Many of them are cited in Fannie Lou Hamer’s  Revolutionary Practical Theology: Weyel, Gräb, Lartey, Wepener (eds.), International Handbook of Practical Theology; Andrews and Smith (eds.), Black Practical Theology; Cahalan and Mikoski (eds.), Opening the Field of Practical Theology: An Introduction; Miller-McLemore (ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology; Wolfteich (ed.), Invitation to Practical Theology: Catholic Voices and Visions; Wolfteich and Dillen (eds.) Catholic Approaches in Practical Theology: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives; Mercer and Miller-McLemore (eds.), Conundrums in Practical Theology; Dillen and Gärtner, Discovering Practical Theology: Exploring Boundaries. You are encouraged to look up other academic materials as well through Fordham Libraries.

One possible structure for a research paper could be: focus on what from your ministerial practice has been implicated in our course (and how and why), specify the course materials most relevant for your practice (including your new reading) and how/why they are relevant, detail any questions/criticisms you have of this material, and explain what difference the engagement between your practice and the course materials makes for your practice. “A” papers exemplify excellent doctoral-level writing, showing critical and creative attention to your practice and the course materials, providing at least 15 appropriate citations to course materials, excellently written and edited, and properly formatted/cited; “B” papers are above average in most or all of these ways and contain at least 10 appropriate citations. Research papers should be 2000-2500 words (not counting notes). Please use Chicago/Turabian style for footnotes. No bibliography is needed. Please post as an attachment in Blackboard.

Here are three other possible structures, or options, for your final project.

Option 1: Compare/contrast the practices of racial and environmental justice of Hamer to Black Catholic Nuns during the 1960s-1970s using the practices of love, critical education, freedom, and an additional one of your choice. You should have four practices under consideration. As best as possible, identify the sources for both Hamer and the Black Catholic Nuns. Then, describe and discuss at least three insights from your analysis on practicing racial and environmental justice, and how they can inform, challenge, and/or affirm you in your respective context of practicing racial and environmental justice.

Option 2: It can be argued that Crozier’s Fannie Lou Hamer, Williams’ Black Catholic Nuns, plus countless others laid their lives on the line for social and institutional change in their practices of racial and environmental justice. In the spirit of Howard Thurman, it is believed that they laid their lives on the altar of social change that bore witness to the kin(g)dom of God. They can fund contemporary religious models/ethics of resistance and political engagement. Within this line of thinking and practice, create, implement, and reflect on a sermon, teaching-and-learning experience, curriculum, pastoral care and counseling approach, liturgy, or organizing event that encourages the participants and practitioners to deepen their awareness of practicing racial and environmental justice as bearing witness to the kin(g)dom of God. You may also include in your paper your approach or process of planning and the people/team that joined you.

Option 3: Another project of your choice influenced by the course materials. Please get approval before your final submission.


All Practical Theology Projects are due by Wednesday, August 9, 2023 at 11:59 pm EST USA. Please note: Creative projects are welcome as an alternative to a research paper. To receive approval for a creative project, please confer with the professor at least six weeks before the due-date. The papers should be at least 5 double-spaced pages and no longer than 8 double-spaced pages or 1250-2000 words.


Qualities of Excellence, Grades, and Assessment Narrative


At the conclusion of the course you will have the option (not requirement) of writing a short Assessment Narrative, reflecting on the quality of your work. The Assessment Narrative should address each of the expected qualities of work listed below, explaining the course grade that you can show that you have earned. Appreciating that frank assessment of your own work may be new to you and might pose challenges that you are welcome to discuss with the professor, the capacity to reflect accurately and honestly about your work and learning is important in theological education and will be of value to you in future professional practice. While the professor is not obligated to assign the final grade that you assign yourself, your Assessment Narrative will be taken seriously in the determination of grades. Please keep the Assessment Narrative between 200-300 words. Submit it as a Word attachment to an email to Dr. Crozier [email protected]. Due before the last class of residency week.

Course-prescribed qualities of excellence: What does an “A” course grade represent in this class? An “A” means that student contributions (in person, in writing, online, etc.) consistently exhibit the following qualities: fulfilling the assignment requirements; displaying norms for presentation superlatively (including editing, style, and formatting requirements in written work); showing due consideration for diverse points of view; stretching and challenging yourself into a new articulation of your perspective; thinking critically about your own and others’ knowledge, practices, beliefs and convictions; incorporating feedback into your work. In sum, all work should strive to manifest the qualities of criticality (questioning assumptions), creativity (opening new perspectives), clarity (communicating understandably), complexity (avoiding simplistic explanation), contribution (articulating your voice), and change (influencing current practice).

Student-prescribed qualities of excellence: In addition to the course-prescribed qualities of excellence, you are welcome to articulate the qualities of excellence that you would like to guide your work. Please feel free to share these with the professor in the first few weeks of the course.

An “A” or “A-” for the course means that all of these qualities were strongly present throughout and/or that you made superlative progress in them over the course of the semester. A “B+,” “B,” or “B-” means most of these qualities were consistently present throughout, and/or that you made (very) good progress in them over the course of the semester.

Course Schedule


Day 1 2023

Practicing Justice: Politics


Day 2 2023

Practicing Justice: Education


Day 3 2023

Practicing Justice: Land and Labor


Day 4 2023

Practicing Justice: Beyond Civil Rights


Day 5 2023

Practicing Justice: Ecclesial Matters   














GRE Policies


Letter Grade

Numerical Equivalent

Grade Description






Very good












Minimal Pass







Grading System

GRE Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is a serious offense, and can be defined as “literary theft” when a student misrepresents the work of another as his or her own. One who intentionally plagiarizes the work of another in a course paper, project, or examination can expect to receive a failing grade for the assignment and potentially for the course. The decision will be made by the professor in consultation with the dean and/or assistant dean, and will be recorded in the student’s file. Students who commit a second act of plagiarism while at GRE may be dismissed from the school. One who unintentionally misrepresents borrowed material as one’s own original work, either resulting from carelessness and/or ignorance, will have his or her assignment returned with the opportunity to rewrite it in an acceptable form. The following guidelines apply to all written work:

1) Using the ideas, thoughts, words, and statements of another, including those quoted from the Internet, without crediting the source constitutes plagiarism.

2) If exact words of another are used, they must be put in quotation marks or indented, and acknowledged through footnotes, endnotes, parenthetical citations, and (unless otherwise indicated) bibliography.

3) If the thoughts or ideas, rather than the exact words of another are used, they must be acknowledged through footnotes, endnotes, parenthetical citations, and (unless otherwise indicated) bibliography.

4) If source material is paraphrased or rephrased, it must be acknowledged through a footnote, endnote, parenthetical citation, and (unless otherwise indicated) bibliography. If the paraphrased material includes exact words, phrases, and sentences, they must be put in quotation marks.

5) The underlying criterion for determining plagiarism is claiming as one’s own original work the ideas, thoughts, words, and statements of another without crediting the source.


Inclusive Language Policy 

In keeping with 21st-century scholarship, ethical practice, and the policies of Fordham GRE, inclusive language regarding humanity is required in all assignments. You are also strongly urged to use inclusive language when referring to God or the sacred (this may be gender-neutral, or alternating gender-specific pronouns). If the latter practice is new to you, try to make an experiment of it for the semester.


Fordham University Writing Center

GSRRE students enjoy free access to the university’s writing center and are encouraged to make use of this valuable resource.  See Fordham University Writing Center--


Students are encouraged to make use of Turnitin and Grammarly.


Counseling Center Resources

Everyone has ups and downs and things to process. Counseling can be a helpful component in spiritual, personal, and interpersonal growth. View the Counseling Center website at to learn more about their free and confidential services.


Technology Resources

For technical support with the Blackboard course management system, you will need to email [email protected] or call 718-817-2289. For questions about your username and/or password, you will need to email [email protected] or call 718-817-3999 (on campus) or 877-366-HELP (off campus).


Fordham University Disability Support Services

If you are a student with a documented disability and require academic accommodations, you need to register with the Office of Disability Services for Students (ODS) in order to request academic accommodations for your courses.  Please contact the main ODS office at Rose Hill at 718-817-0655 to arrange services.  Staff at ODS can guide you through the process and arrange appointments.  Accommodations are not retroactive, so you need to register with ODS prior to receiving your accommodations.  Please contact me if you have questions or would like to submit your academic accommodation letter to me if you are already registered for accommodations with Fordham. If you are not already registered with the Office of Disability Services, please make an appointment to register ASAP and provide me with your accommodations letter as soon as you receive it from ODS.


[1] Cf. the GRE Student Learning Goal, “Students will articulate the relationship between the Christian tradition and their professional practice and spiritual development.”