Science Perceptions Workshop
When it comes to public understanding of and support for science from the large and varied sector of religious communities, it is the perception of the role of science and of scientists themselves – e.g. their motives, expertise, and influence – that often carries the most weight. Likewise the perceptions of scientists toward religious communities greatly impact their effectiveness in science engagement.
The Perceptions Project will use comprehensive new data from a nationwide survey conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and sociologists at Rice University to increase understanding between scientific and religious communities. The project will involve four religious groups—Catholics, Mainline Protestants, Jews and Evangelicals—but will first focus primarily on the Evangelical Christian community.
Evangelical Christians constitute as much as 30% of the U.S. population and their influence on public support and perceptions of science is considerable. The Perceptions Project will host community-based workshops that bring together scientists and evangelical leaders to explore issues of mutual concern.
These events will serve not only to increase positive understanding between these groups but act as models from which other religious groups can develop activities for their own communities. Small group workshops will also be held to bring the project’s data and experiences directly to other religious communities.
Uniquely informed by data, experience, and the resources it develops, the project will reach beyond elite leaders to the heart of the religious communities and beyond, seeding a sea-change in the dialogue about science between scientific and religious groups, and through strategic dissemination of data, with the wider American public.
The project will conclude with a national conference in Washington, DC, in spring 2015. It will bring together scientific and evangelical leaders from a range of disciplines and organizations, along with more locally influential members of these communities. The purpose will be to disseminate knowledge gained through project activities and plot a course for future engagement.
For more information about the genesis and goals of the Perceptions Project, read this detailed description from the winter 2013 issue of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Professional Ethics Report.
The Perceptions Project will host a community-based workshop that brings together scientists and evangelical leaders to explore issues of mutual concern.