Gregg Davidson, Professor
Joe Sumrall, Professor
Fostering appreciation for the mutually informative nature of science and religion is severely hindered by a pervasive perception that the two disciplines are inherently at war. This mindset is illustrated well by a recent Science article reporting that 60% of U.S. high school science teachers are reluctant to teach evolution or earth history because of fear of controversy or uncertainty regarding the veracity of scientific claims. We are proposing the creation of a professional development course designed to reach out to "the 60%" – existing science teachers who could be convinced to change their current practice if given the right tools. The course will represent a unique combination of subjects designed to increase participants' confidence in the validity of contested scientific theories, provide them with concrete, religion-friendly methods for working through perceived conflicts, and increase their willingness to teach the subject material and engage their own students in discussions about faith and science. The course will be designed as an intensive one-week program to minimize participants' time away from other professional responsibilities. The first offering will be a pilot course, targeting junior and senior high science teachers, through the University of Mississippi's office of Outreach & Continuing Education. In addition, the BioLogos Foundation has expressed strong interest in adapting the course to expand on their current workshop series for high school science teachers from faith-based schools. Several enduring impacts are anticipated including (1) repeated instruction of the course, once created, for many years to come by ourselves and others, (2) increased willingness of participants to teach evolution and earth history, and (3) increased numbers of participants' students interested in pursuing science as a career.