Regis College

Regis College’s project, “Educating the Whole Person: Integrating Affect and Reason in the Jesuit & Thomist Traditions,” sought to develop for faculty to a variety of opportunities to integrate contemporary science in their teaching and research.

A faculty seminar was established to introduce dialogues with science and prompt the incorporation of scientific literature into the course syllabi. Project leaders, Drs. Gerard Ryan and John Berkman, led with research exploring theology-ecology dialogues in different ways. Dr. Ryan developed an inquiry around the science of loneliness and connectivity and explored ideas around effective spiritual and ecological accompaniment. Dr. Berkman developed research around topics in animal welfare and global sustainability. Additionally, University of Toronto scientists were invited to deliver presentations and dialogue with the seminar.

  • Dr. Yvonne Bergmans presented her psychiatric clinical perspective on working with people at risk of dying by suicide.
  • Michael Grüniger offered an engineer’s view on computational logic, problem solving, and human communication.
  • Dr. J. Scott MacIvor, presented an ecologists perspective on urban biodiversity and ecosystem services with a focus on plants and pollinators, especially bees.

Seminary faculty were encouraged to find ways of incorporating a science reading into a course syllabus of their choice. Below are some of the efforts in science integration that were taken up by Regis College faculty during the course of the project.

  • In A Priestly People, Ley and Ordained, Dr. Susan Wood, SCL, presented her students with research on priesthood satisfaction, opening a discussion of scientific insights into the social and psychological challenges faced in ministry.
  • In Dr. Jaroslav Skira’s course, Eastern Icons, literature on the neuroscience of facial recognition exposed seminarians to biological and cognitive science perspectives relevant to the study of sacred art.
  • Dr. Gordon Rixon, SJ, enriched considerations of science in the course, Ignatian Mysticism, Reconciliation, and Justice after a Secular Age, by engaging with research on the impact and significance of Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EDMR) therapies in family systems.
  • Dr. Desmond Buhagar, engaged scientific and clinical approaches to assessment and treatment of trauma across multiple demographics, as well as self-understanding and -care. His course, Integrative Approaches to Trauma, helps students prepare for a vocation in trauma-informed psychotherapeutic ministry.
  • Dr. Gill Goulding, CP, drew upon dialogues between the Catholicism and the natural sciences, particularly evolutionary biology, to deepen student understandings of the human person in her course, Theological Anthropology.
  • Dr. Gerard Ryan, SJ, introduced students to the science in Foundations of Theology by modelling a dialogue with the psychologist Dr. Erin Smith around the topic of loneliness, taking clinical as well as theological considerations into an account of the value and applicability of science to ministry.
  • Dr. Michael Stoeber found occassion to engage science in his course on Philosophy of Religion in the Brothers Karamazov with an article proposing an explanation for the persistence of religions from the perspective of cognitive sciences and neuropsychology.
  • Dr. John Dadosky incorporated a discussion of the scientific research literature on affection, sexuality, and pair-bonding into his course Philosophy, Theology and Psychology of Love.

Regis College is a Roman Catholic member institution to the Toronto School of Theology, in Ontario, Canada.

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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.