Hood Seminary gets Science for Seminaries grant

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 9, 2019

SALISBURY — The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program has awarded Hood Theological Seminary a grant to integrate scientific content in its theological curriculum.

The grant is part of the Science for Seminaries project and is organized with the Association of Theological Schools. Over 18 months, Hood will establish the International Center of Faith, Science and History, which will support the revision of required courses and help prepare students to become scientifically literate in a society that is being transformed by science and technology.

Beyond revising courses, the center will sponsor campus programs, worship services, community engagement and a podcast that will feature topics on science and religion. The faculty for the project are Sharon Grant, assistant professor of the history of Christianity, and Mary Love, adjunct professor of Christian education. Grant will be the project leader and founding director of the center.

Grant is passionate about the role of international immersion courses in the spiritual formation of religious leaders. Through the center, Hood will offer a summer overseas intensive course in June 2020, “Science and Healing in the History of Christianity.”

This is not the first time Grant has organized an overseas learning opportunity to the Hood community. In a 2018 session, students traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, with Grant to experience daily life as a seminarian in a developing country.

The students stayed on the campus of United Theological College of the West Indies and studied an interdisciplinary curriculum that included Caribbean theology, Caribbean church history, cultural studies and Rastafarianism by some of the best scholars in the Caribbean.

They also explored the effects of climate change by visiting Hellshire Beach, a popular beach outside Kingston that was severely eroded because of extreme weather, rising sea levels, removal of seagrass, and construction of more hotels and other structures along the coast.

The international focus of the Hood center will include periodic intensive courses that expose students to scientists and religious scholars whose research has potential to promote the well-being of people and the planet.

Integral ecology is a key concept in Chapter 4 of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. It flows from his understanding that “everything is closely related” and that “today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis.”

Hood hopes to make a contribution to the work of developing integral ecologists who understand the vital relationship among a society’s culture, religion and science.

Through the new center, Hood aims to provide relevant and scientifically accurate content that will help pastors, chaplains, laity and community members in their ministry to hurting people struggling locally, as well as to engage in best practices that attend to the immediate global environmental crisis.