​Critical Approaches to Science and Religion
TWCF Number
Project Duration
December 20 / 2018
- December 19 / 2021
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
North America
Amount Awarded

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Myrna Perez Sheldon
Institution Ohio University

​​What uses of science and technology should be considered unethical? Whom should citizens trust to make decisions about their health? Who decides whether public funds should support access to family planning?

Critical Approaches to Science and Religion addresses such pressing questions. Viewing science and religion as cultural resources, this project seeks to promote scholarship that will help global communities address these kinds of issues with sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and empathy.

In both the past and presence, people have often framed “science” and “religion” as a pair of timeless epistemic inquiries. This project takes a different approach: focusing on the ways these knowledge systems affect—and are affected by—social trust and cultural legitimacy.

In the modern world, both scientific knowledge and religious institutions crop up in debates over contentious topics like reproductive technologies, immigration policy, environmental protection, and healthcare. Science and religion scholars rarely address these kinds of issues. Instead, they take such approaches as making normative claims about the proper relationship between science and religion, or exploring their bearing on subjects such as cosmology.

But understanding the history and contemporary ethics of these debates requires far more than normative claims, or even a recognition of the historically contingent nature of these categories Rather, it necessitates an understanding of science and religion that recognizes that their relationship is bound up in public and political authority. This project aims to reshape the study of science and religion through engagement with critical theories. Such an approach can help the field become more attentive to the pressing political questions that face contemporary communities.

Critical Approaches to Science and Religion will feature a symposium and edited volume to promote this perspective in the study of science and religion. It will also publicize this volume at two annual disciplinary conferences, as well as in other public and academic publications. To broaden the reach of this approach, the project will pilot a new curriculum program at Ohio University.

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