Viral Science and Public Theology: Talking about Nature and Neighbour in a post-Covid World

Date: 1-2 December 2020
Location: Online
Audience: Senior leaders

This online retreat for international senior leaders involved three sessions, covering aspects of media, politics and science. Participants were encouraged to think about the interplay of narratives during the Covid-19 pandemic, and how these have played out in their own context.


  • Covid-19 through the lens of the media
  • Narratives and public health messaging during the bovine TB epidemic
  • Narratives and science communication

Keynote speakers:

  • Kamal Ahmed, Editorial Director of BBC News
  • Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
  • Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, FRS
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Video Resources

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Viral Science and Public Theology session 1 with reflection from Bishop Michael Beasley

Bishop Michael Beasley offers a theological reflection on the coronavirus pandemic at this online retreat for senior leaders.

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Viral Science and Public Theology session 2 with Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP

In the second session of our online retreat, ECLAS researcher Dr Amanda Rees interviews the Rt Hon Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central, about his experiences at DEFRA managing outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and bovine TB, and how he views the government’s handling of today’s public health messaging. Prof Tom McLeish and Dr Franziska Kohlt offer a theological reflection.

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Viral Science and Public Theology session 3 with Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS

This is the third session from our Viral Science and Public Theology retreat, which took place virtually on 1-2 December 2020. Bishop Richard Cheetham interviews Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI, on narratives around coronavirus and trust in science. This is followed by a reflection from ECLAS team members Dr Z Thoko Kamwendo and Dr Alex Fry. Reverend Professor David Wilkinson contributes his concluding thoughts.

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Biology, Race, and Public Theology: Justice at the Intersection of Christian Thought and Natural Science

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From Reading To Writing Genes