NEW ECLAS SCIENCE FOR SEMINARIES AWARDS ROUND OPENS
For the past two years, ECLAS has run a series of ‘Science for Seminaries’ grants, awarded to U.K. theological colleges to help integrate science into their curricula and encourage their staff and students to engage with scientific research.
Previous grants have supported seminarians’ engagement with a wide range of theological, ethical and scientific questions: stem-cell research, AI, climate change, end-of-life care and eco-theology being just a few examples.
Participating institutions have enabled seminarians to deepen their understanding of such issues, with the intention that they will become confident enough to engage with science-related questions throughout their ministry.
Previous cohorts have demonstrated impressive creativity in their use of ECLAS’ Science for Seminaries grants. Science for Seminaries projects thus far have included: podcasts, videos, edited volumes, lectures, conferences, the development of new modules, mentoring schemes and the creation of online teaching resources. Although this is by no means compulsory, some projects have taken their work beyond the academy, broadening their outreach to include work with local schools or the creation of resources for preaching to those with learning difficulties (Ripon College Cuddesdon).
Previous cohorts have given very positive feedback: ‘We have every expectation that … ordinands will be better equipped to lead their congregations in confident and positive engagement with the sciences’ (Wycliffe Hall, Oxford). ‘It was clear from questions and continuing conversations that there was enthusiasm for discussions on scientific topics with subject experts.’ (London School of Theology). Many participants from our 2021 cohort have remained in touch with and engaged with ECLAS since, and continued to build on the lessons they learnt during their projects well beyond the project end date.
We are pleased that the John Templeton Foundation has provided further funds to enable ECLAS’ Science for Seminaries grant series to continue, with grants of up to £60,000 now available for the 2024-25 academic year. We would be delighted to receive expressions of interest from institutions new to ECLAS’ work as well as from old friends. For details, please see our announcement on this page. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Alex Jordan at email@example.com.
Responses from previous Science for Seminaries award recipients:
Ripon College Cuddesdon:
The Rt Revd Humphrey Southern, Principal
‘I am very excited that Cuddesdon has been selected for the Science for Seminaries project. This will have a major impact on how our students are formed – as much culturally as intellectually and spiritually – to engage with the world in service of the Gospel, and to enter with confidence and humility into the vitally important conversation that is to be had between people of faith and scientific practitioners.’
University of Aberdeen School of Divinity:
Prof Iain Torrance, KCVO Kt FRSE, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and President Emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary
‘The global pandemic has shown the same virus and vastly different kinds of response from different governments and societies. The acceptability of lockdown as a measure draws on notions of wholeness and well-being. That is one dimension in the range of the ever-evolving debate between science and belief. Ultimately this proposal is about the practical exploration of the relationship between psychopharmaceutical intervention and spirituality. Nothing could be more contemporary or more crucial.’
Regents Theological College:
Revd Dave Newton, Principal
‘We believe it is vital that those training in ministry are prepared and able to engage with issues of science and faith. We believe that as a Pentecostal college we are uniquely positioned to help students explore some exciting research areas and equip future ministers for a changing landscape.’
The Revd Canon Professor James Woodward, Principal
‘Public ministry in the 21st-century requires flexibility, resilience and an ability to enable us to understand the wonder and complexity of our world. Too often science has been pitched against religion as a competing framework within which we understand ourselves and the shape of our human flourishing. The Science for Seminaries grant will enable us to develop our learning and teaching in the key areas of the environment, artificial intelligence and why life science can enable us to understand the possibilities of our life together in community.
‘I am extremely proud of the team, who will use this grant to develop these areas of our curriculum. This resource will make an enormous difference to the students and staff in the development of the Sarum Centre for Formation in Ministry.’
London School of Theology:
Prof Mark Cartledge, FRSA, Principal
‘LST is really excited to be part of this project, bringing science and evangelical theology into dialogue at the core of our curriculum and taking forward some key conversations on eco-theology at our upcoming conferences. We very much look forward to working with ECLAS, St John’s College and other colleges to enrich the theological conversation, train future church leaders in their knowledge of science and contribute to scholarship in the field.’
Nazarene Theological College:
Revd Dr Deirdre Brower Latz, Principal
‘As a college we are committed to developing rich engagement between disciplines, equipping Christians and their leaders to engage thoughtfully with the questions emerging in our world. From genome sequencing to artificial intelligence, from environmental care to quantum physics, from medical interventions through vaccines to end of life questions, science is shaping our communities. How do theology and science speak to one another? We’re delighted to be part of the Science for Seminaries project, enhancing and enabling us to develop and engage in ever deeper ways with the questions of our age.’
Revd Dr Philip Plyming, Warden
‘Cranmer Hall is thrilled to be involved in Science for Seminaries. Ministers in training need confidence to engage with a wide range of public issues, and scientific advances bear on so many different areas of life, mission, and doctrine. Our project aims to equip ministers in training – and, through our podcast series, ordinary Christians – with the tools to understand the relationship between science and faith in a constructive light, and to engage in apologetics and mission on this basis.’
St. Augustine’s College of Theology:
Revd Dr Alan Gregory, Principal (and project lead):
‘Ever since my granddaughter came home from school announcing, “I don’t believe in God; I believe in science”, I’ve looked eagerly for a project like this. In preaching the gospel, ordained and lay ministers cannot afford to ignore the formative power of the sciences in our culture. The Science for Seminaries project addresses our urgent need for ministers scientifically literate enough to delight in the world revealed by natural science; confident about engaging in conversations provoked by science; alert to myths about the conflict between science and religion; and able to speak to the insights that theology can offer the sciences.’
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