Methodist Theological School in Ohio has received a $75,000 grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program for a new project, “Questioning Science with Good Faith: Shifting the Engagement of Science in Seminaries.” AAAS’s partnership with the Association of Theological Schools provides resources to integrate science into coursework and campus-wide events. The grant is funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
“Questioning Science with Good Faith: Shifting the Engagement of Science in Seminaries” will enhance the Master of Divinity program by further integrating science into church history and theological studies curricula. It will also contribute to the public discourse on intersection of science and religion in areas such as remote learning, food justice and countering science disinformation online.
The project will be led by MTSO’s Elonda Clay, director of the library; Tejai Beulah, assistant professor of history, ethics and Black church and African diaspora studies; and Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, assistant professor of theology, ecology and race. Under their direction, students and faculty will have the opportunity to participate in an advanced research workshop series on science and religion offered through MTSO’s Dickhaut Library. Additionally, course-specific research guides will be available on the library’s website.
“For me, MTSO is the perfect place to engaging in conversations linking science and theological thinking,” Clay said. “We already engage in environmental science, agricultural science and food science. Now we will have the opportunity to incorporate today’s science – especially during the current pandemic – into the working knowledge of religious leaders.”
Taking discussions on the intersection of science and religion beyond individual courses, this fall MTSO will present a digital program series called “Science, Religion and Social Change in an Increasingly Virtual World.” Streamed live and archived for viewing after the event, the series will engage scientists and scholars in conversations about their work at the science-religion nexus and how post-pandemic trends might reshape the future of seminary formation and science-religion dialogues. It will cover five topics:
In the spring of 2022, MTSO will host a public event with the theme “Trust in Science? Religious Leaders, Scientists, and the Challenge of Science Denialism.” The spring event will help campus and community participants grapple with the discrediting of science, the repudiation of scientific facts, and increasing distrust and skepticism concerning science and scientists. Additionally, “Trust in Science?” will explore the pressing issues related to the role of religion in science denialism.
In its entirety, the project allows MTSO to facilitate meaningful discussions on current debates that have intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Current work from epidemiology, viral immunology and vaccines, public health and medical experts will be integrated into the science-based discourse. Drawing on its deep theological roots, MTSO will focus on the myriad ways religious people have responded historically to pandemics and consider the implication these responses have for ministerial leadership, churches and social justice in the current political climate.
“This grant extends MTSO’s longstanding commitment to preparing religious leaders who are conversant in and respectful of science, including scientific contributions to the divisive issues of our times,” President Jay Rundell said. “The opportunity for the wider community to be a part of this multi-pronged program greatly increases the reach of this information. We look forward to the ways in which this institution will advance broader conversations around science and religion.”
AAAS is the world's largest multidisciplinary scientific society and a leading publisher of cutting-edge research through its Science family of journals. AAAS has individual members in more than 91 countries around the globe. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement and more. Building upon its mission, AAAS established the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program to facilitate communication between scientific and religious communities. More information about AAAS DoSER can be found at www.AAAS.org/DoSER.
Methodist Theological School in Ohio provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just, sustainable and generative world. In addition to the Master of Divinity degree, the school offers master’s degrees in counseling, practical theology, social justice and theological studies, along with a Doctor of Ministry degree.
Danny Russell, communications director