Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity has received one of 10 grants awarded to theological schools by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)’s “Science for Seminaries” program. The project, “Moving Science to the Forefront of Theological Education,” will enhance the school’s leading interdisciplinary Master of Divinity curriculum by integrating science into three different areas: biblical studies, historical studies, and theological studies.
Several introductory courses in the Master of Divinity curriculum will undergo revision in order to raise awareness of the relevance of science and increase the competency of future religious leaders who can integrate knowledge and understanding of science into the public discourse of the faith communities they will lead. Among the courses include:
So that the impact of science education is felt beyond individual courses, the grant will also enable the School of Divinity to offer lectures by leading scientists and to host a conference on an issue of science and religion that is pressing for today’s religious leaders and the communities they serve.
The project’s first public lecture will be held later this month. Jed Macosko, associate professor of physics, will present on “Understanding Biophysics through the Lens of Darwinism.” This lecture is free and open to the public. More details can be found at divinity.wfu.edu.
Jennifer Wiseman, director of the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion, said that, “Many people look to their religious leaders for guidance on issues relating to science and technology. The Sciences for Seminaries project aims to equip religious leaders with a solid scientific foundation from which to address these questions.” The project is being carried out in consultation with the Association of Theological Schools.
“The need to bring science and religion into a constructive dialogue is both urgent and serious, especially for communities of faith,” said Kevin Jung, associate professor at the School of Divinity and grant project leader. “We are in a time when the compatibility of science and faith is called into question by some scientists and when some religious believers simply refuse to accept the validity of scientific facts or deny the moral and theological significance of these facts.”
Wake Forest University has long been a leading advocate for constructive dialogue between science and religion. William Louis Poteat, seventh president (1905-1927) of Wake Forest College and professor of biology, wrote a number of articles and books and delivered several speeches in which a persistent theme was that science and religion are reconcilable without compromise to the other. President Poteat was also one of 40 scientists, clergy, and prominent educators who in May of 1923 signed a joint public statement holding that science and religion “represent a deep and vital function of the soul of man, and both are necessary for the life, the progress and the happiness of the human race” (“Deny Science Wars Against Religion,” New York Times, May 27, 1923).
“This grant is a wonderful opportunity for the School of Divinity to make the most of its location at a great university like Wake Forest,” said Gail R. O’Day, dean of the School of Divinity. “Our students will be even more creative and effective religious leaders because they will be informed and articulate about the scientific perspective and contributions to the issues of our day. And it is so fitting that through this grant we can carry on the deep commitments of President Poteat and the strong history of the University in this area.”
This grant enhances two existing joint degree programs at the School of Divinity – in bioethics and sustainability – that work at the intersection of science and religion. These programs position the School of Divinity as a leader in educating students for our rapidly changing times.
For more information on the grant project, its requirements and the resources it will provide, review the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s press release.
About the American Association for the Advancement of Science
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals.Science, one of its publications, has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The nonprofit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more.
About Wake Forest University School of Divinity
The Wake Forest University School of Divinity is a growing, dynamic and ecumenical theological institution that prepares men and women to be religious leaders in a changing world. The School currently offers the Master of Divinity degree and several dual degrees in law, bioethics, counseling, education, and sustainability offered jointly with other schools of the University. Through imaginative courses and diverse programs of community engagement, students are equipped to be agents of justice, reconciliation, and compassion in Christian churches and other ministries.
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