University of Notre Dame

J. Matthew Ashley, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
Department of Theology

Dr. Ashley's 1995 Course Prize award has accomplished exactly what the program was intended to do. In addition to three offerings of the winning course, Dr. Ashley is also involved in developing a variety of courses and programs: undergraduate introductory courses, a pre-collegiate program for outstanding high school seniors, development of a Sophomore Core Course, planning for an intensive workshop on the interface between science and religion, and Ph.D. dissertation work with a student in the Department of Theology. 

This fellowship will build on the existing potential to significantly enhance the prominence of science and religion at Notre Dame. Dr. Ashley expects to be granted an in-residence academic leave for the 2003 calendar year in order to intensely focus on promoting the teaching of science and religion at Notre Dame. The leave would result in the development of a new course for the Master's of Theological Studies program (to be taught Spring 2004), updating currently taught courses, a conference planned for Spring 2003 or Fall 2004, and would allow time for reading and writing in the field. 

The Fellowship course will be a revision of a new course currently scheduled to be offered in the summer (2002) master's degree program. The course is presently aimed at students who will be high school teacher or will be working in adult education. The revision will be offered for students planning to do doctoral work. 

There are several developments at Notre Dame that could act synergistically to support a conference. This semester there will be two major conferences on issues concerning science and religion, a conference on ecology and theology, and a major conference on the Galileo affair. There is growing interest in establishing some sort of Institute or serious interdisciplinary center on the environment, which would have a prominent theological component. Also, the College of Science is on the verge of a major program of expansion that must address the "Catholic character" of the university. Thus, the timing is propitious to plan this conference, and could significantly enhance the prominence of science and religion at Notre Dame. As part of the planning process, Dr. Ashley plans to interview every faculty member currently involved in or interested in courses that touch upon issues of science and religion. Incorporating ideas he receives about how to share experiences, he foresees a conference dealing with institutional concerns such as making connections to faith while teaching science in a Catholic university, following up on the previous conferences, and discussion of what has and has not worked in interdisciplinary courses. Prof. Philip Sloan, a well-respected faculty member of long standing at Notre Dame, has agreed to assist with the conference planning.

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