Original Research

ECLAS currently has three areas of research focus, based at Durham University, the University of York, and the Mission and Public Affairs Unit within the Church of England.


Dr Thoko Kamwendo
Dr Thoko Kamwendo

Dr Thoko Kamwendo – Durham University

“My research explores senior Christian leaders’ attitudes toward science and science engaged theology. Building on work that has already been undertaken in this area within previous iterations of the ECLAS project, I will be conducting interviews with senior church leaders in the UK, which will be complemented by a large scale survey study. I am also currently conducting responsive research to begin to gain an understanding of how COVID-19 and the pandemic has impacted church leaders’ engagement with science more broadly.”

Dr Franziska Kohlt
Dr Franziska Kohlt

Dr Franziska Kohlt – University of York

“My research takes an interdisciplinary approach to explore ‘Narratives of Science and Religion’, past and present, in relation to health, in mind and body, environment and artificial intelligence. Coming from a background in History of Science, Comparative Literary Studies, and Communication and Media Science, I have been investigating religious narratives of the Covid-19 crisis in public and religious discourse to identify productive uses of narrative and metaphor in science communication.  I am also working directly with church leaders to reflect on questions of how to best engage with and communicate science in the setting of faith communities, through reflecting analytically on past responses to similar challenges through the sociology of communication.”


Dr Alex Fry and Revd Dr Kathryn Pritchard

Revd Dr Kathryn Pritchard and Dr Alex Fry – Mission and Public Affairs Unit, Church of England

“Our research is multi-pronged. Our work with the AI hub at Mission and Public Affairs [MPA] is fundamental.  There we reflect and work together with church advisors, facilitating training and knowledge exchange and the advising of bishops. We are also following and analysing the unfolding Church of England response to COVID-19, via its public statements, as members of the Church of England’s Bronze COVID-19 Public Policy Group, and through interviews with advisors and church leaders to understand how their work impacts the Church of England’s public policy response. Additionally we are reviewing literature on the Church of England’s engagement with Parliament in recent years.

“Another prong is active expansion of professional networks of scientists, ethicists and science-theologians by involving them as consultants, in events or to engage with the MPA AI hub.  We are arranging a number of cutting-edge science and technology themed events for Church advisors and bishops. These include an AI Symposium for advisors and leading bishops, and a day conference for approximately 50 bishops and senior church leaders with internationally leading researchers in AI technology, and social and ethical thought.”


Latest research

McLeish, T. (vol.8, no.2, 2020). Evolution as an Unwrapping of the Gift of Freedom. https://apcz.umk.pl/czasopisma/index.php/SetF/article/view/SetF.2020.014/26899

Kohlt, F. (2020, November 10). “Over by Christmas”: The impact of war-metaphors and other science-religion narratives on science communication environments during the Covid-19 crisis. https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/z5s6a

Kohlt, F. (2020, June 17). ‘Saints informed by science’: Identifying productive science-religion narratives in times of Covid-19. Paper presented at the online conference
‘Christian Theology in the Midst of COVID-19’.


Kohlt, Saints Informed by Science paper

Conference paper presented by Dr Franziska Kohlt at the University of Winchester's Pandemic Theology conference, June 2020.

In previous phases of the project, Dr Lydia Reid carried out two pieces of significant and original research on church leaders’ and educators’ engagement with science.

From 2018-2019 Dr Reid interviewed more than ten church educators and advisors on their views toward artificial intelligence and technology, as well as potential avenues for including these topics in ministerial training.

From 2015-2017 Dr Reid carried out original research on clergy’s attitudes to science. As part of the project, Dr Reid conducted interviews with over 20 church leaders and senior church leaders, as well as conducting a nationwide survey of over 1,000 clergy from the UK. Her research explored the following themes in relation to science and Christianity:

Media/Public Communication
Typologies (Ian Barbour, John Polkinghorne, Stephen Jay Gould)
Church Engagement
Artificial Intelligence
Climate Change
Genetic Engineering
Resources and Training

This research is currently being prepared for academic publication. For more information on the findings, please contact lydia.j.reid@durham.ac.uk directly.