Social Justice Online Seminars

Bringing together academics, activists and community leaders for social change.


For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Inspired by Paulo Freire, our social justice online seminars are a unique combination of academic coursework, on the ground activism, and cohort based dialogue. You will begin by learning from content consultants: leading experts and innovators in relevant fields. From there, you begin to explore those ideas in your own context to seek to bring about positive change. At the end of each seminar, you will reconvene with the content consultants to evaluate and explore the change you saw in your community. They, and a cohort of like minded leaders, will help you foster justice, peace and thriving community in your context. Plus, to make the seminars available to leaders around the world, we offer all of them in an interactive online format.


Part 1: Academic Seminars

Start with a series of online seminars led by content consultants, all of whom are leading scholars and community leaders. These initial seminars will consist of a discussion of literature and history related to the course by leading innovators.

Part 2: Community Project

Apply your learning! As you learn from the content consultants, you will design and implement a plan to foster change in your community. The consultants and your cohort members will help you shape and refine your project.

Part 3: Collaborative Cohort

Gather back online with the content consultants to present and discuss your projects. Consultants will help you dive deep into what worked well, what could be better, and the feedback you received from others.


Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr

Brandan Robertson

Rev. Dr. Bear Ride

Anannda Barclay

Dr. Michael Adee

Rev. Scott Clark

MAY 10-31, 2017

Loving God and Neighbor: Inclusion in Creating Community

The Biblical text and inspiration for this seminar is Mark 12:28-34 which is often called the Great Commandment text. A parallel text is found in Luke 10:25-28. In both situations, the question posed to Jesus is what is the most important commandment to which he responds “to love God, neighbor and yourself.” So, as people of faith we are called to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We take Jesus at his word and honor this primary teaching as the foundation for becoming an inclusive community.

The structure for this interactive online seminar is informed and inspired by this Great Commandment text with its call to create inclusive community. The first three content sessions are:

1. Love of God: Biblical and Theological Imperatives for Inclusion

2. Love of Neighbor: Ethical and Social Justice Imperatives for Inclusion

3. Love of Self: Pastoral and Self Care Imperatives for Inclusion

The fourth session is the Community Project: Moving Forward in Your Context wherein each participant designs and implements a grassroots project focused upon inclusion in a context of one’s own choosing. The project might be about LGBT inclusion or another commitment. Seminar faculty will serve as guides to accompany each participant with their community project.

Content Curators and Facilitators

Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr – Pioneer for LGBTQ inclusion in the Presbyterian Church

Brandan Robertson – contemplative activist, commentator, and spiritual teacher. More at

Rev. Dr. Bear Ride – Director of the Ride Family Foundation, interfaith and queer activist and an ordained Presbyterian Minister

Anannda Barclay – Co-Moderator of the More Light Presbyterian Church

Dr. Michael Adee – Educator, human rights activist, Director of the Global Faith and Justice Project

Rev. Scott Clark – Chaplain for San Francisco Theological Seminary, Lawyer and counsel to Jane Spahr during her trial

Who should take this collaborative?

This course is designed for anyone who wants to work on inclusion in any religious community setting. Special attention will be paid to the Presbyterian experience. Each participant will benefit in direct ways from the wisdom and experience of others in the community concerning starting and sustaining healthy change.

Learning Objectives
  • To establish a cohort of people who are leaders of faith communities that are interested in advancing issues of inclusion in their specific communities
  • To explore the literature, both theoretical and practical, concerning the issues and challenges of engaging, changing and challenging a community in ways that end in a healthy and inclusive community for all
  • To expose the participants to the pioneers of some of the more successful approaches to community change
  • To have the members of the cohort support, challenge and clarify at least one effort that is attempted during the scope of the evaluation
Format and Schedule

The seminar will be made up of four online sessions, as follows.

  • May 10 – Love of God: Biblical and Theological Imperatives for Inclusion with Brandan Robertson
  • May 17 – Love of Neighbor: Ethical and Social Justice Imperatives for Inclusion with Michael Adee
  • May 24 – Love of Self: Pastoral and Self Care Imperatives for Inclusion with Annanda Barclay
  • May 31 – Community Project: Moving Forward in Your Context
Delivery Mode


Pricing Details



Rev. Byron Bland, Stanford University

Reggie Lyles, Retired Police Captain, Novato, California

Dr. Christopher Ocker, San Francisco Theological Seminary

Rev. Floyd Thompkins, Director of the Center for Innovation in Ministry

Police & Community: Reducing Violence Together

Explore peacemaking and violence, particularly between communities of color and police, in an innovative format that brings knowledge and experience together in new ways to find new solutions to a pervasive social challenge. In this collaborative seminar, community leaders and members of law enforcement will learn from each other and a group of guiding content consultants, made up of a global leader in conflict negotiation, a historian of conflict, a retired police captain and a community leader and activist. This seminar is meant to foster real dialogue that brings about real change in cities across the country.

Content Curators and Facilitators

Rev. Byron Bland – Associate Director of the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation and the King Institute of Stanford University. Byron has negotiated conflict at the highest level, in some of the most difficult circumstances, including Northern Ireland, South Africa, Israel and Palestine.

Reggie Lyles – Retired Police Captain for Novato, California. Reggie spent his career in law enforcement, reshaping policies in community policing and hate crimes, and developing a youth mentor program.

Dr. Christopher Ocker – Professor of Church History at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union

Rev. Floyd Thompkins – Director of the Center for Innovation in Ministry. Floyd has spent years as a chaplain, pastor and community leader, starting transformational programs in local communities.

Who should take this collaborative?

Any pastor, police officer or community leader who is active in building bridges between the police and communities of color.

Learning Objectives
  • To establish a cohort of leaders who are interested in furthering peace and justice between communities and the police
  • To deepen the questions that shape the dialogue between leaders and the police, hopefully uncovering root causes of tension
  • To expose the participants to the pioneers of some of the more successful approaches to community change
  • To have the members of the cohort support, challenge and clarify each other’s efforts toward peace and justice in their context
  • A two-hour online discussion of literature, history and pertinent issues around peace and conflict negotiation with Facilitators, which will address individual seminar participant issues in their communities.
  • Two to four cohort feedback discussions of community issues undertaken by seminar participants, facilitated by Rev. Floyd Thompkins, Director of the Center for Innovation in Ministry.
  • A two-hour online meeting for feedback from the Facilitators about the community work that that was done by seminar participants, with suggested areas for improvement.
Delivery Mode


Pricing Details

$150, but FREE for community activists and members of law enforcement. Email for a discount code. Other scholarships are also available.


Several of our partner institutions also offer online seminars for community leaders. Below, you will find a list of upcoming courses from leading scholars and innovators.

king-bannerStanford University
American Prophet: The Inner Life and Global Vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.

American Prophet is a course about the inner life and thoughts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many history books tell us that King was a civil rights leader who advocated for peaceful protest and made inspirational speeches. But what was he really thinking and feeling during the various campaigns in which he participated? How did he even become a civil rights leader in the first place? Was he really as confident about his methods as we think?


Join our Inclusion Seminar!

Starting on May 10

This online seminar, led by LGBTQ pioneers, will equip you to foster greater inclusivity in your congregation.

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