AUSTIN, Texas (January 12, 2024): Austin Seminary has received a grant of $15,000 from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program to fund a project that integrates climate science with theological education. The grant will support a partnership with Texas Interfaith Power and Light, a Texas Impact project, offering a series of activities for eighteen months at Austin Seminary, where alum Dr. Becca Edwards (MDiv'23) will teach climate science topics and guide discussion on the theological implications of this critical issue.
The project's centerpiece will be a series of ten monthly “lunch and learn” seminars open to the seminary community and the public, with special invitations to local congregations. Each seminar will consist of a climate science topic and a related theological topic. Potential topics include radiation, greenhouse gasses, fossil fuels, atmospheric circulation, ocean currents, climate proxy data, climate modeling, climate projections, and climate impacts like extreme heat, food insecurity, infectious disease, energy concerns, and ocean acidification. Special attention will be paid to international climate change impacts, especially in developing countries which bear the most severe consequences of climate change. Theological topics will include environmental ethics, creation care, stewardship, love of neighbor, care for the vulnerable, liberation, Imago Dei, racial justice, economic justice, and liberation, and incorporating climate themes in liturgy and worship.
The project includes one enrichment activity scheduled for the fall of 2024. The activity is a field trip to the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, where students will learn from experts in water conservation and natural resources and have time for reflection and appreciation of the natural beauty of the unique ecosystem preserved at the facility.
Edwards said, “In my experience of teaching climate science to college students, I found that understanding the underlying science was key to overcoming the partisan association climate change often has. Climate change is the biggest moral issue of our time, and I am so pleased to partner with Austin Seminary in preparing faith leaders to have this conversation with their congregations.”
Austin Seminary Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer said, “As a member of the Green Seminaries Initiative, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is delighted to partner with Texas Impact to offer these educational opportunities to our community of learners. We are particularly proud that the grant was shepherded by two of our alumni, Mr. William West and the Rev. Dr. Becca Edwards.”
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 Climate Science in Theological Education project, visit AAAS.org/DoSER, ScienceReligionDialogue.org, and ScienceforSeminaries.org.
ABOUT AUSTIN SEMINARY:
Founded in 1902, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is an institution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership. For more information, visit www.austinseminary.edu.