05 Aug

Science for Seminaries Faculty Enrichment Retreats

05 Aug 2016
11:59 pm

Dates & Locations  

Mainline Protestant: June 20 – 23, 2016 (Mon-Thurs)
Newagen Seaside Inn, Maine

Evangelical/Conservative Protestant: July 18-21, 2016 (Mon-Thurs)
Timberline Lodge, Oregon

Catholic/Orthodox: Aug 2-5, 2016 (Tue-Fri)
Newagen Seaside Inn, Maine



To prepare future religious leaders for conversations at the intersection of faith and science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), through its Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program, in consultation with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), invited applications for seminary faculty members to attend one of three Science for Seminaries 2016 Summer Faculty Enrichment Retreats. These retreats provide opportunities for faculty to engage the learning outcomes gleaned from the original participants in the AAAS Science for Seminaries project. Through their participation, they will be able to impart to their students an appreciation for science, which will enrich teaching and service as seminary graduates minister to their congregations.  

AAAS/DoSER launched the Science for Seminaries pilot project in 2014. As part of this three year effort, AAAS/DoSER awarded grants to a diverse group of 10 seminaries to support them in their efforts to integrate science into their core curricula. The project aims to foster a vibrant and expanding community of theologians and religious leaders who are adept at contemplating the role of such disciplines as genetics, neuroscience, human origins and technologies, thereby exploring life’s big questions and generating a wealth of new insights. Within each school, faculty specializing in the disciplines of Pastoral Theology, Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, or Church History have worked with highly qualified mentors and science advisors to design core curriculum courses that will enrich future theological education with forefront science. One of the objectives is the creation of a set of natural science resources to be disseminated throughout these seminaries and to the broader seminary community. To augment the coursework, seminaries also held campus-wide events to expand the classroom conversation to the broader community. 


These faculty enrichment retreats will showcase the work of each project seminary. Designed to be intimate workshops with seminary peers, mentors, and scientist advisors, each retreat will guide invited attendees in gathering new ideas for enriching theological education with forefront science into their own curriculum design. Working in an ecclesial family group setting, each gathering will balance plenary presentations, workshops, and small group discussions with time for reflection.

Retreat Highlights

Access to research scientists interested in assisting seminaries with science integration
Discussions on key scientific topics, including:

  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Neuroscience, Brain, and Mind
  • Life Sciences
  • Earth and Environment
  • Physics and the Cosmos

Time to reflect, discuss, and develop participants’ own course work projections
Unique networking, multidisciplinary, and curricula-building opportunities with leading seminary peers


  • Provide opportunities to develop new pedagogical skills, while critically reflecting and exploring approaches to integrating science into their core curriculum
  • Learn from current project faculty best practices on the integration of science into core curriculum
  • Create relationships and networks for partnerships and mentorships within the seminary and scientific communities
  • Learn how to find, evaluate, and utilize scientific resources
  • Contribute to building capacity for the broader seminary community to have positive dialogue on issues at the intersection of religion and science.  

Retreat Location Highlights

Mainline Protestant: June 20 – 23, 2016 (Mon-Thurs)
Newagen Seaside Inn, Maine

Catholic/Orthodox: Aug 2-5, 2016 (Tue-Fri)
Newagen Seaside Inn, Maine

Evangelical/Conservative Protestant: July 18-21, 2016 (Mon-Thurs)

Timberline Lodge, Oregon


Open to faculty from an ATS-accredited or associated institution who teaches core curriculum course(s) at their seminary or divinity school (e.g. Biblical Studies, Church History, Pastoral Theology, and Systematic Theology). Eligible faculty include tenured or tenure-track, term-track faculty, and administrative staff (Deans and Provosts) as long as they have substantial teaching duties.

No more than two applicants from the same seminary or divinity school were selected to attend the retreat affiliated with their institution’s ecclesial family; applicants from the same institution were encouraged to complete a joint application.

Faculty from the current AAAS partner seminaries were not eligible to apply. Employees of AAAS or The John Templeton Foundation, or their affiliates, subsidiaries, and their immediate family members or persons living in the same household were not eligible.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Evaluation and selection of applicants was made by an external advisory committee, with input and administration by AAAS. Scientific expertise was not necessary. Rather, selection was based on the following considerations:
  • Level of interest in integrating forefront science
  • Institutional need to provide opportunities for science enrichment in the seminary environment
  • The applicant’s individual and institutional commitment (as demonstrated by the support letter) to implement science integration into curriculum
  • The applicant’s overall capacity to benefit from retreat participation