The Womanist Leadership Institute


Womanist Theology: A Primer - Dr. Watkins

Six-Week Core Course  | Tuesdays, July 13-August 17, 2021  |  6-8 p.m. EDT

This course is designed to explore the ways in which literature has and can be used as a source for theological reflection by Womanists and others within the survivalist/liberationist tradition. Special attention will be given to the Black literary tradition for critical reflection on the development of Womanist theology, particularly in the work of theologians Delores S. Williams, Kelly Brown Douglas, and M. Shawn Copeland.


Womanist Activism & Public Witness - Dr. Smallwood

Six-Week Elective Course  |  Tuesdays, September 21-October 26, 2021  |  7-9 p.m. EDT

This course will explore the contours and impact of proto-womanists, womanist scholars, and womanist activists from 1800-2020 in three veins: social witness, political witness, and religious witness. The course is an introduction to the various roles and experiences of women in the formation and lived commitments to the ideology of freedom from tyranny and freedom to participate fully as citizens in the American project. From an intersectional framework, the contribution of women in the advancement of human flourishing will be examined.


Proto-Womanist Thought - Dr. Murphy

Four-Week Elective Course  |  Tuesdays, January 11-February 1, 2022  |  6-9 p.m. EST

Have you ever received words of wisdom from your grandmother, auntie, or church mother who probably never heard the term “Womanist?” When asked where such wisdom came from, they would say: “Child, my ancestors passed this wisdom to me and I’m passing it on to you.” If so, you are the recipient of Proto-Womanist wisdom, that wisdom that empowered ancestral African-American women to define and demonstrate with determination a sense of rebellion that claimed their humanity and agency in a country whose political system was and is set on denying their personhood, spirituality, and equality.

Building on the core courses of this virtual program, this elective presents an overview of the words, actions, and contributions made by familiar and unknown historical African-American women to the development of Womanist thought. Examining the lives and contributions of Maria Stewart, Amanda Berry Smith, Zora Neale Hurston, Jarena Lee, the family stories of strong Black women from students, and other African-American women of the 18th and 19th centuries, real and fictional, is the foundation for the development of Womanist thought of the 20th and 21st centuries. Being undergirded with this knowledge allows students to recognize the contributions of Black Women to the struggle for freedom and equality in the United States since 1619.


Womanist Social Ethics - Dr. Robert

Six-Week Elective Course  |  Mondays, February 21-March 28, 2022  |  6-8 p.m. EST/EDT (as applicable)

This course critically examines major works of Katie Geneva Cannon to explore social contexts that inform the moral decision-making and agentic survival practices of the dispossessed against interlocking systems of oppression. The course will engage womanist social ethics as a lens to grapple with racial, gender/sexuality, and economic inequities in real-life contexts. Students can expect to apply their learning to critique structural injustices (e.g., the U.S. legal system, state/communal/intimate partner violence, poverty, Anti-Black racism) and construct liberatory interventions to catalyze ecclesial and social responses for transformative change.