Cuddesdon is one of nine theological colleges each receiving a £60,000 grant for the ‘Science for Seminaries’ programme run by research project Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science (ECLAS). The aim of the grant, funded by the Templeton Religious Trust, is to promote engagement with science in the course of ministry training.
Although science is already present in a number of modules taught at Cuddesdon, the grant will support developing a curriculum which engages more deeply with contemporary scientific findings. A module on the Christian doctrine of salvation will be the first to be transformed by drawing on insights from psychology and environmental science. Subsequently we hope to further integrate climate science into a course on Christian ethics to better prepare ordinands to address one of the most pressing moral challenges of our time.
Another focus for the project is the development of a workshop on ‘preaching for specific learning difficulties (SpLD)’. It is estimated that approximately 10% of British adults are affected by dyslexia and between 5 and 10% by dyspraxia. To increase the accessibility of sermons, we will develop a workshop to train our ordinands to preach in ways that connect with congregation members with SpLD.
Lastly, the grant will allow the development of a ‘Befriend a Scientist’ programme. The ECLAS ‘Scientists in Congregations’ project has found that one of the best ways to transform perceptions of the relationship between science and faith is for a ‘flesh-and-blood’ scientist to be a practicing member of a congregation. We propose to borrow from this relational model by offering ordinands an extra-curricular opportunity to ‘befriend a scientist’. Ordinands will be partnered with a volunteer scientist for a series of informal conversations with a view to them becoming acquainted with their research topic and scientific practice, discussing cultural perceptions of science, and considering good and bad scientific engagement in church settings.
The Rt Revd Humphrey Southern, Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon, said: “I am very excited that Cuddesdon has been selected for the Science for Seminaries project. This will have a major impact on how our students are formed – as much culturally as intellectually and spiritually – to engage with the world in service of the Gospel, and to enter with confidence and humility into the vitally important conversation that is to be had between people of faith and scientific practitioners.”
More information is available at https://www.eclasproject.org/science-for-seminaries/