Science for Seminaries Grant

In spring 2018, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) selected Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology (SHSST) to participate in Phase II of its Science for Seminaries Grant. AAAS provided this $75,000 grant through its Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program as part of a five-year initiative to foster a greater appreciation for science among America’s future religious leaders.The seminary’s project was entitled, “Seeking the Heart of Science: From God to Galileo to Grandma, and Beyond,” implemented between June 2018 and December 2019. The grant’s primary objective was to introduce a robust dialogue between scientific and theological questions in select core courses in its M.Div. curriculum. A key component was a week-long pilgrimage to the Vatican Observatory in Arizona. 

In the seminary’s press release announcing the award of the grant, its then president-rector, Very Rev. Thomas Knoebel, stated, “This grant affirms Sacred Heart’s position in the Catholic Church as a leading seminary whose graduates serve in dioceses and religious orders throughout the United States, and is thus well-positioned to achieve its project goals. Our primary job is to equip our graduates to help bring people of faith into closer relationships with God. This must take place in a context that accounts for the rich human understanding of His complex world.”

Three seminary faculty crafted the proposal and served as project leaders: Dr. Jeremy Blackwood (Systematic Theology), Dr. Paul Monson (Church History), and Dr. James Stroud (Moral Theology). Dr. Steven Shippee (Systematic Theology) also served as a grant participant. The seminary’s proposal outlined a two-track course of action. The first track, designated “Creation and the Heart of the Universe,” focused on astronomy and evolution. The second track, “Love and the Heart of the Mind,” highlighted the relationship between neuroscience and psychology in theological discussions on the nature of love. This plan thus explored the vertical relationship between people and the cosmos and investigated the horizontal relationship among people through both rationality and emotion.

This webpage documents the grant’s curricular achievements and community events. It further serves as a resource for Catholic educators interested in faith and science.

Summary of Courses

Sacred Heart faculty affirm that philosophy and theology form the bedrock of priestly formation; at the same time, they insist that neither should isolate itself from the rest of human knowledge and research, especially scientific discourse. After all, the Catholic Church has a rich tradition of not only engaging science but also promoting it. And most important, the professions of many Catholic faithful are steeped in the sciences. A priest aloof to science is thus a poorly prepared priest. 

These convictions informed the integration of scientific topics, concerns, and questions in six required courses in the seminary’s M.Div. curriculum: 

  • Fundamental Theology
  • Philosophical Anthropology 
  • History of the Church Universal II 
  • The Catholic Church in America
  • Trinity and Creation
  • Biomedical Ethics

Summaries of these courses along with syllabi are available here.

Community Events