At present, theology and religion departments are often cut off from science. There are few faculty posts focused specifically on the intersection of science and religion, and research at that intersection can be viewed with skepticism by ‘mainstream’ theology. Courses in the field are few and far between. We propose therefore to begin to address this lack, and to work toward gradual changes in university culture, by funding 10 two-year Fellowships in Science and Religion across the USA, UK and continental Europe.
The fellowships would be awarded in a competitive RFP scheme among approximately 18 preselected high-quality institutions. Each fellow would be located in a department of theology or religion and would teach a new course on science and religion. They would conduct research on one of a range of big questions in science and religion that align with Sir John’s vision. They would be mentored by an academic of high standing. An eleventh fellow would be located at St Andrews.
In order to help the fellows develop a research community, exchange fruitful ideas, and be open to lively questioning as their research proceeds, a series of workshops will be held every six months. Once each year all eleven fellows will meet together with their mentors and guest speakers. This would be supplemented with smaller, regional workshops, one each in Europe and the USA. We will also support the fellows' career development by pairing them with senior faculty who are especially skilled at helping candidates prepare for the job market.
The project's goal is to lay the groundwork for wider acceptance of science and religion in theology departments; to train a group of world-class scholars in science and religion who stand a good chance of gaining tenured faculty positions in religion departments; and to undertake ground-breaking research on big questions in science and religion.