As part of the grant, AAAS (1) invited faculty to propose “Content Advisors” from other schools who had experience incorporating science in theological courses and who thus could serve as advisors for our own integration, and (2) provided Sacred Heart with “Science Advisors,” local scholars in the sciences who could assist seminary faculty in engaging science on its own terms and with a proper methodology.
For Content Advisors, the project leaders chose:
- M. Therese Lysaught, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Graduate Program in Healthcare Mission Leadership, Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics & Healthcare Leadership, Loyola University Chicago, and author of Chasing After Virtue: Neuroscience, Economics, and the Biopolitics of Morality (University of Notre Dame Press, with Jeffrey P. Bishop, M.D., Ph.D., and Andrew Michel, M.D., forthcoming).
- Robert Miller, II, O.F.S., Ph.D., Ordinary Professor of Old Testament and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, School of Theology and Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and recipient of two major grants, Religion and Science in Pastoral Ministry and AAAS’s Science for Seminarians Grant Phase I.
For Science Advisors, AAAS invited:
- Jean Creighton, Ph.D., Director of Manfred Olson Planetarium, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, selected in 2014 by NASA as one of 24 Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the largest moving astronomical observatory
- Nakia Gordon, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at Marquette University and researcher for Inquiries in Affective Science Lab
For its first grant event, the project leaders and participants (Drs. Blackwood, Monson, Shippee, and Stroud) along with Sacred Heart’s dean (Dr. Patrick Russell) met with all four advisors at the seminary. Dr. Miller contributed a wealth of information on his previous experience with a AAAS grant, its implementation in courses, and hard lessons learned about what works well and what does not. For her part, Dr. Lysaught drew on her experience working with both theology and neuroscience, identifying pitfalls and highlighting the benefits of engaging both. Dr. Creighton and Dr. Gordon helped to clarify the difficulty of the depth of scientific material available, developing a common suggestion that the courses attempt to help students understand how scientists know what they know, rather than trying to convey scientific content, which is both vast and quickly changing. All agreed on this emphasis, which could prove helpful to seminarians once they are in ministry settings.