Accelerating Insight: An Oxford–Templeton Project for Schools
How can we enhance insights into Big Questions—especially at the intersection of science, philosophy, and theology—among secondary school teachers and students? Andrew Pinsent (Ian Ramsey Centre) and Julie Arliss (Academy Conferences) have joined teams to answer this question. Their three-year project will provide a suite of activities to promote open-minded, insightful inquiry into the Big Questions of life and the universe. Target audiences for this project are secondary school students (ages 13–18), their teachers, and heads of schools. The project will produce and deliver the following resources and events:
- Five sets of learning resources each for five perennial Big Question topics that are currently on the British GCSE and A-level Religious Studies syllabi. These are science and religion; arguments for the existence of God; the problem of suffering and evil; miracles; and free will/determinism and responsibility.
- Five one-day seminars for head-teachers (30 head teachers per seminar).
- 10 continuing professional development training days for teachers on topics relating science and religion (40 teachers per training day).
- 50 events for GCSE, A-level, and “gifted and talented” students (to reach over 17,500 students).
- 10 local and one regional “philosothon” events.
- Student and training events at 12 centers in Australasia.
Capitalizing on Academy Conferences’ reputation and existing database, the IRC will make these events widely accessible to schools, teachers, and students. The grant will also subsidize a small number of teachers and schools for whom the payment of fees for the event are a challenge.
Because this is an engagement project, its outputs are the events and resources themselves, as well as a report on the effectiveness of these activities on four desired outcomes:
- Self-reported increase in level of curiosity about and enjoyment of discussion about the topics;
- Self-reported increase in understanding about the topics;
- Self-reported increase in access to knowledge (e.g., other resources and events) about the topics; and
- Self-reported increase in willingness or desire to further engage with the topics.
A collection of feedback from users will accompany the sequential launch of the five resources to refine the content and improve the dissemination strategies of subsequent resources.