Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary awarded a $75,000 grant for the “Science for Seminaries Phase II” project

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May 1, 2020

Abbey Church

Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program “Science for Seminaries Phase II” project. The school submitted a project titled “Cosmologies and Context: Science as a Lens for Understanding Faith” aimed at bringing the dialogue between science and theology more fully into the core courses of the school’s theological curriculum. This project will assist faculty and students to understand more deeply the natural and social world in which theology strives to be a persuasive voice. The following statements from faculty, administrators and board members testify to the expectations they have for this project:

 Professor Vincent Smiles emphasizes, “As I see it, there is no question more urgent or more fascinating than ‘What is a human being?’ It is a question that captivates both theology and science, and for which both have profound responses. In my courses, therefore, I endeavor to show how cosmology and biological evolution impact theology, and theology in its turn brings an essential aspect of transcendence to our scientific understanding.”

 Professor Charles Bobertz notes, “Good theological education must strive to understand how God is in our world, and the methods and activities of science must become part of that understanding. This grant will help our faculty to develop courses to achieve this important part of a good theological education.”

 Abbot John Klassen, OSB, professor of chemistry, states, “This funding from AAAS for Science for Seminaries is an excellent opportunity for Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary faculty to continue the work of integrating the questions, insights, and contemporary understanding of the physical and biological world into the work of doing and teaching theology to the next generation of ministers and homilists. The investigative work of science today has a positive and generative impact on the questions about God and the human situation that theologians explore and address with students. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity for our faculty and students.” 

 Dr. Dennis Smid, chair of the Board of Regents, points out, “Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary is embedded within the thriving liberal arts programs of Saint John’s University and its co-institutional partner, the College of Saint Benedict. Programs in math and sciences are large and flourishing disciplines in these undergraduate schools. The grant funded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science allows the School of Theology to draw from these programs and the scientific faculty, incorporate these perspectives into our theology, and thereby enrich the training of our seminarians and ministry students. Our graduates will be better prepared to serve their faith communities through a heightened understanding of the complementarity of science and religion.”

 Dean Fr. Dale Launderville, OSB, adds: “We here at the School of Theology and Seminary are very grateful for this opportunity that AAAS/DoSER is giving us to bring up-to-date scientific perspectives and findings to bear on the theological learning at the heart of our School. We believe that a more robust engagement with science will help us carry out more effectively our mission of preparing theologically grounded and pastorally discerning leaders skilled at drawing forth the gifts of faith communities.”  

 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. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving millions of individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. 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 Science for Seminaries Project, visit and