Since its founding in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII, the Vatican Observatory has had scores of astronomers and other researchers on its staff, produced hundreds of scientific publications, worked on every continent, and continued to collaborate with leading scientists. Yet the most significant work of the Vatican Observatory is in the dialogue between Faith and Science. What can Science help us to understand about our Faith, even about our God? What can Faith help us to understand about Science? And how can this dialogue and mutual search for understanding take place in terms common to both?
The Vatican Observatory Foundation (VOF) was established in 1986 to help the Observatory continue its scholarly research and reach out to the public with its message of Faith and Science in dialogue. With the support of the John Templeton Foundation, the VOF has taken steps to build an extensive online platform of resources. There is an archive, Faith and Science, and an active online journal, Sacred Space Astronomy, with articles posted daily on astronomy, including education and engagement activities, the societal impact of astronomy, and especially the many connections between faith and astronomy.
The online platforms of the VOF have developed rapidly and experienced growing pains. It is a challenge to keep up with a changing visitorship who are increasingly mobile and savvy about interactive engagement. Platforms need to be analyzed and new strategies developed to put these to the most effective use. This project involves first studying who the visitors are, what draws them, and why they come to the VOF online. Then comes the restructuring of the existing platforms for more effective and wider interactions. In the end the goal is to fulfill the mission the Vatican Observatory received 130 years ago, by generating more awareness of the important scientific work being done by the Vatican Observatory and dispelling misconceptions regarding the co-existence of Faith and Science.