McGrath Institute for Church Life receives $1.675 million to train science and religion teachers

by Meg Mirshak

Foundations Seminars

The McGrath Institute for Church Life has received a $1.675 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to expand its Science and Religion Initiative – a multifaceted program that trains Catholic educators to raise the quality of high school science and religion education and develop useful learning materials for engaging dialogue between the disciplines. The program seeks to frame science education within the broader context of Catholic theology.

The three-year Templeton Foundation grant allows the Science and Religion Initiative to continue hosting seminars at the University of Notre Dame and other locations. Additionally, the initiative will support the development of online courses for teachers, a second edition of a high school textbook on the subject and a website to share lesson plans and other teaching resources.

“According to a recent national survey, the perceived conflict between science and religion is one of the main reasons young people say they leave the Catholic Church,” said John Cavadini, McGrath-Cavadini Director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life. “This grant allows us to address this misperception and help high school teachers create pedagogies that show that science and religion – far from being incompatible – are partners in the search for truth.”

The Science and Religion Initiative, which received two prior Templeton Foundation grants, seeks holistic integration of theology, biology and physics. Each summer, 90 high school teachers in the three disciplines will attend week-long Foundations Seminars at the Notre Dame campus or Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. The Foundations New Orleans seminar offers a hands-on learning approach where laboratory work helps to facilitate conversations about science and faith.

Teachers who previously attended the Foundations Seminar or from schools where science and religion have a higher level of integration will be invited to a two-day capstone seminar.

Seminars, school in-service days and online courses offered through the McGrath Institute for Church Life’s online theology program, known as STEP, will train an estimated 700 teachers annually. Teachers who participate in science and religion programs funded by the Templeton grant are expected to reach more than 125,000 students over the next 10 years.

The competitive application process gives priority to schools that apply with a team of at least three teachers from biology or chemistry, physics and religion. The application process for summer 2017 is closed. To learn more about applying for future seminars, email rss@nd.edu.

The Templeton Foundation supports research related to the humanities and science. The philanthropic group encourages dialogue among scientists, philosophers and theologians, and between such experts and the public.

The McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame partners with Catholic dioceses, parishes and schools to address pastoral challenges with theological depth and rigor. By connecting the Catholic intellectual life at Notre Dame to the life of the Church, the McGrath Institute for Church Life forms faithful Catholic leaders for service to the Church and the world. For more information, visit icl.nd.edu.

Contact: Brett Robinson, director of communications, McGrath Institute for Church Life, 574-631-6109, brobins6@nd.edu