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CTNS Concludes Science and Religion Course Program

September, 2002

The Center for Theology and the Natural Science (CTNS) wrapped up four highly successful years administering the Science and Religion Course Program (SRCP) with a retrospective and prospective gathering on June 10, 2002. This full day of discussions focused on how scholars around the world may capitalize on the success of SRCP to nourish growth of this interdisciplinary field.

The Science and Religion Course Program made the first of its $10,000 course awards in 1995. For four years, the program was led by Robert Herrmann at Gordon College. On assuming leadership of the program in 1998, CTNS expanded the roster of regional directors and set a goal to broaden the program's international scope. A 1999 survey showed that since 1994, semesterly offerings of science-religion courses had increased by 125 percent, annual offerings by 285 percent, and biennial offerings by 54 percent.

Of these results, Peter M. J. Hess, associate program director, noted, "while some of this growth no doubt reflects the course program requirements of continuing pedagogy, there is also no doubt that professors have begun to integrate science-religion courses into their regular teaching rotations." In recent years, the course program has grown tremendously in geographic, religious, and academic diversity. In 2002, for example, 64% of the winning SRCP proposals come from outside the United States, compared to 26% in 1999.

As a result of the course awards, introductory and advanced workshops, support of special regional events and qualifying conferences, publication of regional and national newsletters, and intensive efforts to carry the program around the globe, CTNS has witnessed an exponential growth in the network of science-religion scholars. The Science and Religion Course Program, at its conclusion, has supported the ongoing development of nearly 800 courses and hundreds of conferences.

In a 2001 editorial, SRCP director Ted Peters and associate director Peter Hess wrote:

"CTNS is committed to drawing religious scholars, ethicists, philosophers, and historians into conversation with natural scientists. Through this interaction, CTNS hopes to foster a legacy of mutually enriching scholarship. This legacy in turn will provide a foundation and lasting impetus for science-religion dialogue.

"An essential step in building this community of scholarship is the development of teaching in science and religion within institutions of higher learning. The CTNS Science and Religion Course Program is designed to support that essential step. With religious and scientific scholars working in such close proximity to one another, universities, colleges, and seminaries offer a unique environment for engagement. If dialogue between science and religion can be established here, scholars and students will proceed into specialized fields of research enriched in their own disciplines and equipped to successfully meet the interdisciplinary challenges raised by a scientific age."

For educational resources and more information, visit the Teaching Section.

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