Science Conversation — or “Sci Con” as it is known on campus — encourages a philosophically and theologically informed appreciation for the development of science, the relationship between reason and faith, questions of meaning and purpose, and the complex interplay of science and society.
The Science Conversation brings together students and faculty with a broad range of academic interests for a critical exploration of science within its historical, cultural, and social contexts. It is designed to illuminate the distinctive character of science and its relevance to the challenges facing our world.
Who is eligible to apply?
The Science Conversation is open to all students who will be sophomores, juniors, or seniors next academic year. We encourage applications from students of all majors. Students who complete the program earn HWC, BTS-T, HBS, SED or IST, and WRI general education credits.
How is the Sci Con community?
“I loved bonding with a group of people I probably would not have met otherwise,” says one student.
“‘Sci Con’ is also one of the most intellectually stimulating classes I’ve taken.” “an extraordinary and valuable experience.”
What texts do we read?
Beginning with Aristotle, Copernicus, and Galileo, students gain a deeper understanding of the ideas, personalities, and events that shaped the emergence of the modern scientific view of the natural world. Science Conversation follows a ‘great books’ approach with seminar-style discussions. Primary texts by influential figures are read alongside secondary sources for analysis and overview.
What are the classes like?
The format is a “conversation,” with a stable cohort of 24 students from course to course and a focus on primary sources and discussion. The fall course is team-taught by a faculty member from the natural sciences and one from the humanities. All three courses discuss questions and readings that draw from multiple disciplines. In this way, team teaching fosters a conversation among different perspectives — an essential feature of the Science Conversation.
Why the Science Conversation?
The rise of modern science, and its tremendous success describing the cosmos as matter and mechanism, issued a significant challenge to traditional systems of value, meaning, and belief.
Notions about God, creation, and human agency have remained centrally important in human life, but their relationship to scientific knowledge is uncertain or even problematic.
One result has been an undesirable fragmentation of world views that is increasingly risky and counter-productive as the challenges facing humanity become ever more technical in character and global in reach. Today, many students of the liberal arts seek to integrate their knowledge, experience, and beliefs within a coherent worldview that does not shy away from questions of ultimate meaning.
As the students of today develop into the citizens, scientists, and policy makers of tomorrow, they will face a wide array of contested issues and dramatic challenges, including the mitigation of climate change, management of population growth, development of sustainable energy, and the progress of genetic science and engineering.
Exploring big ideas, such as the origins of life, the significance of knowledge, and the nature of free will, requires an interdisciplinary approach.