Portland Seminary awarded Science for Seminaries grant by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

May 26th, 2021

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The $75,000 award will fund integration of science into curriculum and a symposium focused on the relationship of cognitive science and spiritual formation

NEWBERG, Ore. – A $75,000 grant awarded to Portland Seminary this spring will fund two courses that integrate science into its curriculum and an in-person symposium that will examine the relationship of cognitive science and spiritual formation.

The Science for Seminaries grant, awarded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion program and funded by the John Templeton Foundation, in conjunction with the Association of Theological Schools, is part of a nationwide initiative to support seminaries in their efforts to incorporate forefront science into their core curricula and to prepare future clergy to address questions of science, ethics and religion with their congregations.

At Portland Seminary, that translates into the “Exploring Intersections of Science and Spirituality as Tools for Wellness and Healing” project, which involves the revision of two courses, and the introduction of a Science and Spiritual Practice Symposium that addresses the cognitive science underlying the relationship between brain neuroplasticity and spiritual formation. The first symposium is scheduled for February of 2022.

“One of our key strategic priorities is to become a university known for the integration of science education and the Christian faith, and the promotion of intellectual Christianity,” said Ekaterina Lomperis, who, along with fellow Portland Seminary professor Dan Brunner, is the principal of the grant. “We look forward to using this grant to strengthen our work of intellectually equipping our students to interact with science as an ally, rather than as an adversary, of Christian faith.

“We are thrilled to have won this significant award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in order to expand Portland Seminary’s engagement with science across our programs.”

Beginning this fall, Portland Seminary will revise two courses, Essentials in Christian Theology and Awareness & Identity II. The former will be revamped to include a discussion of social-scientific research on the connection between religious participation, healing and health. The latter will incorporate a new section engaging cognitive sciences and the relationship between neuroplasticity, spiritual formation and religious experience.

Science for Seminaries is a project of the AAAS DoSER in partnership with the American Association of Theological Schools. Funding will provide participating institutions with resources to integrate science into their coursework and campus-wide events over the next 18 months.

Portland Seminary is one of eight seminaries across the country that will add science into their coursework in the coming year as participants in the project.

Portland Seminary is affiliated with George Fox University, ranked by Forbes among the top Christian universities in the country and a Christian college classified by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best National University.” More than 4,000 students attend classes on the university’s campus in Newberg, Ore., and at teaching centers in Portland, Salem and Redmond, Ore. George Fox offers more than 60 undergraduate academic programs, degree-completion programs for working adults, seven seminary degrees, and 14 master’s and doctoral degrees.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. Building upon its mission, AAAS established the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program in 1995 to facilitate communication between scientific and religious communities. For the latest information and news about AAAS DoSER and the Science for Seminaries Project, visit AAAS.org/DoSER and ScienceforSeminaries.org.


Ekaterina Lomperis
Richard B. Parker Assistant Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Thought
Portland Seminary

Dan Brunner
Professor of Christian History and Formation
Portland Seminary

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