Newman secures £1.8 million research funding

Researchers from Newman University, Birmingham have been awarded £1,872,654 by the Templeton Religion Trust to set up a research group team to examine the relationship between science and religion in society.

The programme will in the first instance be a 33 month project and be led by Newman based Principal Investigator Dr Fern Elsdon-Baker, in partnership with Professor Bernard Lightman of the Institute of Science and Technology Studies at York University, Canada, Dr Carola Leicht of the Centre for the Study of Group Processes, in the School of Psychology, University of Kent, and the National Life Stories programme at the British Library.

Commenting on the grant award, Dr Elsdon-Baker said: “I’m excited to be establishing this research group at Newman University on such a critical, and timely, topic. The project is the first of its kind and seeks to develop and foster a new, multidisciplinary research field by growing research networks in the UK, Northern America and internationally.

“It is the first large-scale integrated social sciences and humanities based study of the popular debates around evolution and religion outside the US. We will be employing an innovative new research approach that crosses over the study of science and religion, to provide fresh insights on how best to engage sceptical faith or non-faith publics with both evolutionary science and wider STEM issues.”

Running until November 2017, the project will open up conversations around a number of key topics: the public reception of evolutionary science both historically and today; debates around science education in faith schools; the relationship between (new) atheist and creationist debates; and how diverse communities and faith groups in the UK and internationally engage with evolutionary science and STEM.

Professor Peter Lutzeier, Vice Chancellor at Newman University, said: “We’re delighted to have secured this research grant and are looking forward to breaking down barriers between interest groups and geographies to build a new understanding of the increasingly polemical debates surrounding evolution and religion in the UK and beyond today.”

“As a university with strong catholic values committed to the discovery of truth through discourse and respectful dialogue, dedicated to humility and being inclusive of those from all religions and backgrounds, Newman is the perfect home for the group.”

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