Science for Seminaries News & Events

  • 14 Seminaries Focus on Climate Science and Theology in the 2024 School Year

     

    This article was originally published on ScienceReligionDialogue.org by Lilah Sloane-Barrett. To read the original version, click here

     

    Applications for this grant are now open until April 1, 2024. The link to the call for proposals is at the end of this article.

     

    Zoom squares in a 5x5 grid plus 3 zoom squares on the bottom.

    Attendees of CSTE Cohort 1 smile during a zoom meeting | DoSER staff

    In November 2023, representatives from 14 theological institutions joined scientific and faith experts to discuss climate science and how it can be incorporated into education, conversation, and curriculum at their schools. This virtual meeting launched AAAS DoSER’s new Climate Science in Theological Education (CSTE) project. The goals of this 3-year initiative are to equip current and future faith leaders to lead their communities in addressing climate change and to create an atmosphere in places of worship where climate science is considered relevant, complementary, and important to religious worldviews.

     

    The participating institutions in the first cohort include the Academy for Jewish Religion (NY), Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary (TX), Columbia Theological Seminary (GA), Ecumenical Theological Seminary (MI), Graduate Theological Union (CA), Hood Theological Seminary (NC), Iliff School of Theology (CO), Knox Theological Seminary (FL), Lexington Theological Seminary (KY), the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning and Leadership of Hebrew College (MA), Palm Beach Atlantic University Graduate School of Ministry (FL), Portland Seminary of George Fox University (OR), Regis College (ON, Canada), and Seventh-Day Adventist Theological Seminary (MI). In addition to being geographically diverse, the schools represent Jewish and Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic Christian theological education institutions. Eight of the institutions have worked with DoSER on past projects to engage science in theological education, while the rest of the cohort represents new partners for DoSER in this work.

     

    DoSER’s CSTE project will encourage participating institutions to engage climate-related science in ways that are tailored to the specific students, faculty, alumni, and faith communities that they serve. Activities funded through the grant can include capacity building, curriculum engagements, ministry/leadership-focused activities, or other program activities. The scientific topics that the projects address are varied, as are the methods of engagement. Proposals highlight issues of environmental justice, air quality and health, extreme weather, food security, agriculture and soil science, marine science and ecology, climate migration, and similar topics. Many of the schools have decided to host multiple activities and engagement opportunities.

     

    One example of updated coursework comes from the Academy for Jewish Religion. Their Counseling course will now include a section on climate bereavement to work with students to help them better understand the issue of climate bereavement and how it may impact their communities.

     

    “Many in the Jewish world believe in climate change, but they may not understand the effects on us physically, emotionally, or psychologically. Or they may have some understanding of these things, but feel overwhelmed,” said Jill Hammer, project co-lead and Director of Spiritual Education at AJR. “We hope that through our project we will equip our students and graduates to be informed and to inform their communities accurately about climate change, and to address their emotional and psychological needs.”

     

    People standing up to their knees in water holding walking sticks surrounded by trees.

    Biology students from Palm Beach Atlantic University visit the Grassy Waters Preserve, West Palm Beach, Florida | Image credit: Thomas Chesnes, PBA

    Capacity building and ministry-focused activities vary from webinars to lunch-and-learns to visiting nearby natural areas. Thomas Chesnes, project co-lead, Associate Dean of Sciences, and Professor of Biology at Palm Beach Atlantic University, described his school as “ground zero for directly observing the effects of climate change.” Throughout his work, he found that “a picture’s worth a thousand words, but getting people up to their waist in the mud of a degraded ecosystem…that speaks a million words. These experiences drive points home.” Paul Gould, Director of the Master of Arts in Philosophy of Religion and project co-lead, added that in the spring of 2025, they plan to bring a cohort of 10 students and faculty to the Florida Keys or Everglades to “get down into the water, into the nitty gritty, to see what’s going on with climate.”

     

    Finally, all schools will host an event that will be open to the entire school and wider community. In response to the massive northern forest fires last year, Regis College, University of Toronto, will host a panel discussion on “Climate Change and Forest Fires in North America.” One expert will explore the implications of eco-anxiety in the context of the Canadian forest fires, and a religious leader will share pastoral experiences from affected areas in Canada. Jaroslav Sikra, Inaugural Dean of Regis-St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology, explained that “[the enveloping smog from the fires] raised questions about pastoral care of those who are seeing and immediately being affected by the effects of climate change. This includes airborne pollution, issues of asthma, quality of care,” and more.

     

    The Climate Science in Theological Education project builds upon the success of DoSER’s previous Science for Seminaries: Integrating Science into Core Theological Education project (2016-2023), as well as a 2022 pilot project in incorporating climate science into seminary curricula. Science for Seminaries equipped religious leaders with a solid scientific foundation to answer their community’s questions about issues related to science and technology. Selected seminaries had to integrate science into at least two core courses and produce at least one campus-wide science-themed event. Science topics included astronomy, genetics and gene editing, evolution, public health, neuroscience and mental health, and more.

     

    “One of the main lessons we learned [from Science for Seminaries] is that on a high level, the relationship at bridging Judaism and science is simple enough. But when you get into the details, and all the scientific data and all of the minutiae, that’s where it becomes a real challenge to show the levels of applicability and points of intersection between science and Judaism,” said Matthew Goldstone, Assistant Academic Dean and project co-lead from the Academy for Jewish Religion.

     

    Allowing institutions to contextualize their approach to climate science engagement is key to the success of the project. Thomas Chesnes summarized the conflict he often sees when engaging with religion and science: “In my experience, especially in religious contexts, you need to understand where people are coming from. You need to understand their deep-rooted presuppositions, what underlies their viewpoints.”

     

    Initial funding for the Climate Science in Theological Education project is provided by the David and Carol Myers Foundation and Leslie Sternlieb, private donor. Applications for Cohort 2 are open until April 1, 2024. Click here for more information and to apply.

    READ MORE

  • DoSER Initiative Focuses on Climate Science and Theology

     

    This article was originally published on ScienceReligionDialogue.org by Lilah Sloane-Barrett. To read the original version, click here

     

    Applications for this grant are now open until September 18, 2023. The link to the call for proposals is at the end of this article.

     

    Students take part in Ambrose Seminary’s Earth Day event | Image by Ambrose University

    Students take part in Ambrose Seminary’s Earth Day event | Image by Ambrose University

    The AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program is excited to announce a new focus on climate change science with the Climate Science in Theological Education (CSTE) project. This 3-year project, with initial funding from the David and Carol Myers Foundation, will provide grants for seminaries to meaningfully engage forefront climate science in their curriculum and activities. The goals are to equip current and future faith leaders to lead their communities in addressing climate change and to create an atmosphere in places of worship where climate science is considered relevant, complementary, and important to religious worldviews.

     

    DoSER’s CSTE project will encourage participants to engage climate-related science in ways that are tailored to the specific student, faculty, alumni, and broader faith community. Activities funded through the grant can include capacity building, curriculum engagements, ministry-focused activities, or other program activities. Seminaries will host at least one enrichment activity or campus event that addresses theology and a climate-related science topic, such as environmental justice, air quality and health, extreme weather, food security, agriculture and soil science, marine science and ecology, climate migration, or similar topics. For the 2023 cohort, AAAS DoSER will select up to 14 schools to receive a grant of $15,000. Accredited theological education institutions that offer an MDiv program or equivalent for the training of faith leaders may apply.

     

    The Climate Science in Theological Education project builds upon the success of DoSER’s previous Science for Seminaries: Integrating Science into Core Theological Education (Science for Seminaries) project (2016-2023), as well as a 2022 pilot project in incorporating climate science into seminary curricula. Science for Seminaries equipped religious leaders with a solid scientific foundation to answer their community’s questions about issues related to science and technology. Selected seminaries had to integrate science into at least two core courses and produce at least one campus-wide science-themed event. Science topics included astronomy, genetics and gene editing, evolution, public health, neuroscience and mental health, and more.

     

    A recent study by the Pew Research Center indicated that over 60% of religiously affiliated Americans strongly believe that the Earth is sacred and that humans have a duty to protect and care for it. However, studies by the Association of the Theological Schools and Pew Research Center also found that many faith leaders feel uncomfortable or even avoid discussions about climate change in religious services because they do not have training in the sciences. DoSER’s CSTE initiative hopes to help future faith leaders feel better equipped to engage climate science within their ministry and communities.

     

    To submit an application for this grant, click here. Applications due September 18, 2023.

    READ MORE

  • Science for Seminaries Fall 2021 Newsletter

    As the days shorten and leaves (and possibly snowflakes) fall, DoSER is excited to have launched the holiday season with our popular annual holiday event! Download a PDF of the Fall 2021 newsletter here. 

    READ MORE

  • Congratulations to the participants of our new Science for Seminaries Seed Grant initiative!

    Image taken from the Science for Seminaries Retreat | Lilah Sloane-Barrett.

    AAAS DoSER is pleased to announce that we are launching a Seed Grant initiative as part of our Science for Seminaries project. The initiative offers one year of flexible funding to 12 seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The goal is to increase their students’ capacity for engaging science and technology in theological education.    

     

    The goal of the seed grant is to help students and faculty members feel more comfortable when interacting with science and technology topics and issues. Project topics and implementation will vary based on the needs of students, faculty, and the wider seminary community. Science topics to be covered include neuroscience, biochemistry, racism and public health, epigenetics, health and well-being, and mathematics. 

     

     

    Schools participating in the 2021-2022 Seed Grant initiative include: 

    • Drew Theological School 
    • Fuller Theological Seminary 
    • Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary 
    • Holy Apostles College & Seminary 
    • John Leland Center for Theological Studies 
    • Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Zygon Center 
    • Mount Angel Seminary 
    • NAIITS An Indigenous Learning Community  
    • Providence Theological Seminary 
    • Regis College  
    • Virginia Theological Seminary  
    • Wycliffe College 

    READ MORE

  • New Cohort of Seminaries to Incorporate Science into Coursework

    by: Andrea Korte

    Eight seminaries across the country will incorporate science into their coursework and campus life as participants in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science for Seminaries project.

    The seminaries are the Academy for Jewish Religion, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO), Palmer Theological Seminary, Portland Seminary, Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.

    The eight new institutions bring the total number of seminaries that have participated to 42, reaching thousands of seminary students since the project’s launch in 2014. The new participants represent a range of religious traditions, with the Academy for Jewish Religion joining as the program’s first non-Christian seminary. Other new participants represent traditions including Roman Catholic, United Methodist, Baptist, Interdenominational, Evangelical Free Church and Presbyterian.

    Science for Seminaries is a project of the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER) program in partnership with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), provides participating institutions with resources to integrate science into their coursework and campus-wide events over the next 18 months. The goal is to foster a positive understanding of science among future religious leaders and to encourage informed dialogue on scientific topics among those leaders and their congregations. The project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

    Read the rest here!

    READ MORE

  • AAAS Program Brings Scientific Instruction to Future Church Clergy

    Eight Christian seminaries across North America will soon begin engaging their students — aspiring priests and ministers — on scientific topics as the latest participants in Science for Seminaries, a project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    Organized by the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program in partnership with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), Science for Seminaries provides schools with the guidance, funding and instructional resources necessary to integrate science and technology lessons into their curricula. The goal is for future faith leaders to emerge ready to address such issues with their congregations.

    (more…)

    READ MORE

  • Seminary Faculty Engage on Scientific Topics at AAAS Retreat

    This summer, faculty leaders from seventeen North American seminaries, along with scientific and theological experts, gathered near Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Science in the Curriculum Faculty Enrichment Retreat. The retreat, organized by the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER) program, provided an opportunity for seminary professors to engage across denominations, discuss and reflect on a variety of science topics, develop pedagogical skills and strategies for science integration into their curricula, acquire science resources, and build networks and relationships with the theological and scientific communities. The retreat was hosted as part of the Science for Seminaries project, which is organized by AAAS DoSER in collaboration with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Science for Seminaries equips seminaries and their faculty with the skills and relationships needed to provide improved science exposure to their students. These future religious readers are then better prepared to welcome good, relevant science into the conversations and ministries of their future congregations.

    (more…)

    READ MORE

  • Science for Seminaries Fall 2019 Newsletter

    Welcome to the new academic year! The Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) Program is excited to advise and support the 2019 Science for Seminaries Cohort as they begin integrating science into their core curricula this year. Download a PDF of the Fall 2019 newsletter here!

    READ MORE

  • AAR Spotlight on Theological Education

    In this edition of Spotlight, Dr. Scott Alexander presents five essays focused around the Science for Seminaries project. These five insightful essays embody the rich and multifaceted nature of the conversation that took place last November at AAR Annual Meeting. The first two are by Curtis Baxter of AAAS/DoSER and Deborah Gin of ATS. What both of these essays have in common is the relative altitude of their perspectives. Both Curtis and Deborah give us a bird’s-eye view of the initiative from the perspective of the two national sponsoring organizations. Curtis provides a concise summary of the vision behind the Science for Seminaries initiative, an informative overview of its national scope, and an invitation to readers who may be interested in participating. Deborah’s piece is an ideal complement. Among other things, Deborah deftly summarizes and synthesizes the data ATS collected from graduating student questionnaires, revealing not only key aspects of the initiative’s impact on students, but also raising vitally important questions of pedagogical ethics. These two essays are followed by perspectives from three faculty, MT Davila, Paul Metzger, and Fred Ware, each of whom helped lead a Science for Seminaries initiative at their home institutions and each of whom teaches at one of three distinct types of graduate schools of theology and ministry!

    READ MORE

  • Science for Seminaries Spring 2019 Newsletter

    We are pleased to welcome nine new seminaries as participants in the Science for Seminaries project, organized by AAAS DoSER in partnership with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). In all, AAAS will select 32 seminaries to carry out 18-month projects and prepare future faith leaders to engage their congregants in dialogues on science and technology issues….
    (more…)

    READ MORE

  • AAAS Program to Expand Science Engagement in Diverse Group of Seminaries

    This fall, a collection of nine geographically and theologically diverse seminaries will begin to integrate science into their core curricula as new participants in Science for Seminaries, an ongoing project of the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program.  The group is the second of four that will participate in Science for Seminaries. Organized by DoSER in partnership with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the five-year initiative aims to prepare future faith leaders to engage their congregants in dialogues on science and technology issues. In all, AAAS will select 32 seminaries to carry out 18-month projects, building on a successful three-year pilot project that included 10 schools and ended in 2017….

    READ MORE

  • Science for Seminaries December 2018 Newsletter

    When the weather gets cold, DoSER gets moving! Representatives from the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) Program have been traveling across the United States to visit seminaries and present at conferences. We were happy to see several of you at the American Academy of Religion’s (AAR) annual meeting, where we co-sponsored a reception and spoke on a panel discussing the integration of scientific research into graduate theological education.

    Download a PDF of the December 2018 newsletter here and subscribe by filling out the form below!
    (more…)

    READ MORE

  • Inaugural Release of Science for Seminaries Quarterly Newsletter

    The Science for Seminaries project brings forefront science and science resources for future religious leaders to use in their own ministerial context. Now in its second phase, we are pleased to offer a quarterly newsletter to share special announcements, upcoming deadlines, and pertinent news.

    You can download a PDF of the newsletter here and subscribe to our newsletter by filling out the form below!
    (more…)

    READ MORE

  • Connecting Scientific and Religious Communities: A DoSER Program Q&A

    Science doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Research and researchers are connected to society as a whole, and their findings shape how people view the world — and make complex decisions with deep moral and ethical dimensions. Since 1995, the AAAS program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER) has been exploring those issues alongside members of various faith communities. DoSER connects researchers and rabbis, theologians and theoreticians, pastors and post-docs at multiple levels to promote communication and understanding among groups that are often portrayed as being at odds with one another.

    READ MORE

  • Salman Hameed: Spiral Galaxies and Spirituality

    Salman Hameed started his career peering into the stars. Now, he’s bridging the gap between astrophysics and metaphysics. The Pakistani-born astronomer leads the Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies at Hampshire College, in western Massachusetts. He teaches courses on integrating science and the humanities, with a special focus on the relationship between science and Islam. And he’s been a guest speaker for the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion Program, most recently in January. The dialogue between scientific and religious communities can be enriching to both sides, he said.

    READ MORE

  • William P. Brown Explores Science and Religion

    William P. Brown, a Presbyterian minister, scholar, teacher, author and AAAS member, works diligently to bridge the perceived gap between science and religion. Brown is the William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary (CTS) in Decatur, Georgia, one of ten theological seminaries of the Presbyterian Church (USA). From 2015 to 2017, he oversaw CTS’s participation in the three-year pilot program that launched Science for Seminaries, a project of the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER), which promotes an ongoing conversation between scientists and religious communities.

    READ MORE

  • Faculty Forge New Paths for Science in Seminary Education at AAAS Retreat

    Faculty leaders from 17 seminaries across the country, along with scientific and theological experts, gathered near the Maryland Chesapeake Bay for the Science in the Curriculum Faculty Enrichment Retreat August 6-9. The retreat, organized by the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER) program in partnership with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), provided an opportunity for seminary professors to engage across denominations, discuss and reflect on a variety of science topics, acquire pedagogical skills and strategies for science integration into their curricula, and build networks and relationships with the theological and scientific communities.

    READ MORE

  • AAAS extends Science in Theological Education Program

    Building on broad interest generated by a three-year pilot project integrating science into theological education, the American Association for the Advancement of Science is now expanding the Science and Seminaries initiative to advance understanding of science and technology across the religious community to as many as 35 seminaries over the next 5 years. A set of seven seminaries in Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin have been selected as the first of four groups to participate in the expanded program over the next 18 months.

    READ MORE

  • AAAS Enhances Support for Science in Theological Education

    AAAS, through its program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER), is embarking on a new 5-year initiative that will offer a unique suite of activities designed to expand the role that science plays in US theological seminaries. The new Science for Seminaries Phase II project will be carried out in consultation with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). It is geared towards the goal of broadening contact with science in theological education for the benefit of faculty and students, and ultimately providing the religious public with the leadership it needs to consider advances and implications of science, in the context of their faith communities.

    READ MORE

  • How Can Science Inform the Jewish Understanding of Memory?

    AAAS-DoSER’s Rabbinic Training project is featured in this article at Big Questions Online: “Yerushalmi’s book explores the dynamics of Jewish religious and cultural memory, from antiquity through our own times, and the complicated ways memory is in tension with the discipline of history. My colleagues at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DOSER) have, in our project on “Science Engagement in Rabbinical Training,” explored Judaism and Jewish memory as one of our themes. How might modern scientific discoveries shape the Jewish understanding of memory?”

    READ MORE

In furtherance of the AAAS mission of advancing science in service to society, AAAS|DoSER’s role in the Science for Seminaries project is to support efforts to integrate science into seminary education. AAAS|DoSER does not advise on or endorse the theological content of the participating seminaries.