Science for Seminaries

With this project, MTSO expands its commitment to the respectful engagement of science and religion.

MTSO has a longstanding commitment to preparing religious leaders who are conversant in and respectful of science, including scientific contributions to the divisive issues of our times. An important part of that effort is “Questioning Science with Good Faith: Shifting the Engagement of Science in Seminaries,” a project that enhances the Master of Divinity program by further integrating science into church history and theological studies curricula while also contributing to the public discourse on intersection of science and religion.

This project is made possible by a grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion program. AAAS’s partnership with the Association of Theological Schools, of which MTSO is a member, provides resources to integrate science into coursework and campus-wide events. The grant is funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

“Questioning Science in Good Faith” gives students and faculty the opportunity to participate in an advanced research workshop series on science and religion offered through MTSO’s Dickhaut Library. The project is led by MTSO’s Elonda Clay, director of the library (eclay@mtso.edu); Tejai Beulah, assistant professor of history, ethics and Black church and African diaspora studies (tbeulah@mtso.edu); and Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, assistant professor of theology, ecology and race (egodsey@mtso.edu).

Taking discussions on the intersection of science and religion beyond individual courses, MTSO is presenting a digital program series called “Science and Religion Digital Dialogues.” Streamed live and archived for viewing after the event, the series engages 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.

Seminarians’ Science Competition
Spring Semester 2022

The Seminarians’ Science Competition is open to students enrolled at MTSO, either full- or part-time. The contest requires works to be original (not previously published) with permissions from competition winners to make their works available on the project website. The work can be a research paper, a podcast episode, a sermon or an essay.

  • All works will be judged by their demonstrated understanding of science/scientific research, argument, supporting evidence, and originality. The reviewers will be invited scholars and science professionals. Requested length is 1,500-3,000 words for seminary student entries. Students may submit unpublished papers written in prior semesters.
  • The top four entries will receive awards at $500 each, and four other competitors will receive honorable mention awards at $250 each, for a total of eight awards.

The deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. April 18. Elonda Clay, eclay@mtso.edu, will receive submissions and answer any questions.

Science conference stipends
for students and faculty
Spring Semester 2022

Science conference stipends can cover expenses to be used for travel, accommodation, incidental costs and registration for professional science-related conferences. The limit for funding is up to $500 for U.S.-based conferences.

The stipends are to support students or faculty who participate in virtual or in-person science conferences:

  1. they are attending for educational and professional benefit and networking, to strengthen capacity to understand and incorporate science in their seminary formation;
  2. to which they are submitting abstracts (oral or poster presentations) that have a clear scientific component to the research; or
  3. in which they have a major role in organizing aspects of the conference concerned with connections between science and religion.

The stipend is dispersed following the submission and approval of an email application. Recipients approved for the stipend are required to report back on their conference experience in a meeting with the project leaders following the conference.

Elonda Clay, eclay@mtso.edu, will receive applications and answer any questions.

Archived events

Pastors, Pandemics and Public Health: Building Collaborative Responses to COVID-19
Sept. 16, 2021

This multi-professional conversation brought together panelists Emanuel Cleaver III, senior pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri; A. Oveta Fuller, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School; and Rachel Schneider, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Religion and Public Life Program at Rice University.

Trust in Science? Responses to the Challenge of Science Denial
May 10, 2022

Psychologists and authors Gale M. Sinatra and Barbara K. Hofer, authors of Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do About It, discuss pressing issues related to science denial and the role of religion.