Grant to Help Study Intersections Between Science, Theology

Augustana is part of a new program designed to study the intersections between science and theology.

Augustana has been named a collaborator in a $141,500 grant awarded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to the Lutheran Theological School at Gettysburg. AAAS awarded grants to 10 Christian seminaries for pilot programs aimed at integrating science into core theological curricula. This project was made possible through the support of AAAS and a grant from The John Templeton Foundation.

According to AAAS, each grant recipient will develop and implement curricula with integrated science for at least two core theological courses (such as those in systematic theology, biblical studies, church history, and pastoral theology) over the next two years. This approach will bring science into the core of seminary theological education, impacting individual seminaries as well as the ministries in which graduates serve. Science-focused, campus-wide activities will complement these courses, and resources from the project will be made available to interested seminaries as the project unfolds.

Dr. Ann Pederson, professor and chair of the Augustana religion department, said Augustana faculty will provide mentoring and expertise in the areas of science and medicine to the Lutheran Theological School at Gettysburg.

"This grant is important because it connects not only our religion department but also our folks in the natural sciences to the work being done at an ELCA seminary," Pederson said.

The grant will help cover costs associated with developing courses in worship and Hebrew Bible-Cosmology, led by Pederson, Dr. Jennifer Gubbels (Biology) and Dr. Eric Wells (Physics).

"We will help format and structure the science materials and make suggestions for how to implement them into the seminary curriculum at Gettysburg," said Pederson. "Dr. Gubbels  will work specifically with the Rev. Dr. Leonard Hummel, professor of pastoral theology and care and director of clinical pastoral education at Gettysburg Seminary."

Hummel will work with Augustana students in January as a speaker for two capstone courses, "Reproduction and Personhood" and "Life's Cycles."