Final week of ‘Bridging the Two Cultures’ seminar in Oxford

The first Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities seminar, funded by the Templeton Religion Trust is drawing to a close this week.  The twenty-five participants have attended a month of lectures, workshops, and mentoring sessions with eminent scholars in the field, including Alister McGrath, John Hedley Brooke,  David N. Livingstone, Markus Bockmuehl and René van Woudenberg.

The programme aims to foster in participants the interdisciplinary skills and understanding central to the study of science and religion, so that these early and mid-career scholars can return to their campuses equipped to lead corresponding discussions and research projects.

The twenty-five scholars will return to Oxford for next year’s seminar taking place from 3–30 July 2016 which will end with a conference on science and religion for the presidents of the participants’ institutions.

For further information and comment please see the CCCU website.

SCIO Junior Dean gains postdoctoral teaching fellowship at Indiana Wesleyan University

We are delighted to announce that Lexi Eikelboom has gained a 2–3 year postdoctoral teaching fellowship with the John Wesley Honors College at Indiana Wesleyan University, in Marion, Indiana. The Honors College offers an Honors Humanities Major through interdisciplinary seminars based on questions fundamental to human existence such as: ‘What is truth?’ ‘What is beauty?’, and ‘What is humanity?’ as well as seminars based on faculty research. Lexi will be teaching some of these seminars as well as continuing with her own research on rhythm as a theological category.

She comments,
One of the reasons that I am excited about this job is that I suspect the students in the John Wesley Honors College will be similar to the students who have come through SCIO: inquisitive, generous, and genuinely trying to understand how to live, think, and follow Christ well in a very complicated world. Investing in the lives of undergraduates has enriched my life and my research, and I am so pleased that this will continue to be a significant part of the next step in my academic journey.
Lexi and her husband Paul (pictured above) have been Junior Deans at The Vines, SCIO’s residence in Oxford, for three years. They have seen six cohorts of students through the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford, and assisted with numerous conferences and summer programmes. They have been invaluable members of the SCIO staff team: we will miss them!

SCIO announces prize winners of the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford fall term 2014

Top line, left to right: Joel Sams, Chance Gamble, Paul Stapleton. Middle line, left to right: Emily Sargent, Lydia Good, Abigail Storch, Samuel Ernest. Bottom Line, left to right: Claire Lambert, Graham Warnken, Emily Lund

SCIO is delighted to announce the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford de Jager prize winners for fall 2014. The de Jager prizes are funded by a generous donation to SCIO from Geoffrey and Caroline de Jager who have a long standing commitment to encouraging excellence in education and scholarship.

These students showed exceptional academic performance in the following aspects of the programme


Two of the students reflect on their time in Oxford below

The dreaming spires, the cyclists dashing between buses and down cobbled side streets, the late-night kitchen conversations over mugs of tea, my pounding heart as I walked into my first tutorials: Oxford was a dream I was privileged enough to live out for a few wondrous months. Yes, I was stressed and stretched. But I was also blessed to be alongside some of the brightest minds and biggest hearts I could have ever hoped to know, fellow scholars intent on pursuing knowledge and truth. SCIO taught me a new definition of ‘learning’, one that reemphasized not only the power of the written and spoken word, but also the power of living in community.

Twenty-five participants chosen for SCIO’s Templeton-funded project in Oxford

Scholarship & Christianity In Oxford (SCIO), the UK Centre of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), is pleased to announce the twenty-five participants for the Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities project.  Funded by the Templeton Religion Trust, seminars will take place in Oxford, UK in the summers of 2015 and 2016. The programme fosters in participants the interdisciplinary skills and understanding central to the study of science and religion.
 In addition to attending the summer seminars with lectures from eminent scholars in the field, participants will work on an original research project in science and religion intended for major publication. Funds are provided for a research assistant to help the participant’s research project and establish (or bolster) a science and religion student club at the home institution. A final conference with presidents from participating institutions will be held in the summer of 2016.

While most participants are from North American CCCU institutions, there was a special effort to increase diversity.  The selection committee is pleased to have selected from the 70 applicants two participants from Africa, one from Central America and one from South America.  There is also one participant from a public university and seven women.

Helped by 10 specialist reviewers, the selection committee comprised:

Professor Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, and Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre, University of Oxford; Academic Director of Bridging the Two Cultures
Dr Stanley Rosenberg, Executive Director of SCIO and faculty member of Wycliffe Hall and the Theology and Religion Faculty, University of Oxford; Project Director of Bridging the Two Cultures
Dr Michael Burdett, Postdoctoral Fellow at SCIO and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford; Project Coordinator of Bridging the Two Cultures
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Book published by SCIO staff member, Dr Michael Burdett

SCIO is delighted to announce the publication of Dr Michael Burdett’s book, Eschatology and the Technological Future (Routledge, 2015). Michael has been involved with the work of SCIO since 2008. He was a Junior Dean for the SSO programme 2008–2010 and Lecturer in Philosophy and Theology 2011–2013. He has played a significant role in the development of SCIO’s research in science and religion in recent years. From 2011–2013 he was the Junior Research Fellow for the Balancing Perspectives project funded by the John Templeton Foundation and is now Postdoctoral Fellow and Project Coordinator for the Bridging Two Cultures Project’ funded by the Templeton Religion Trust.

Michael’s book is based on his doctoral research on religion and technology. Michael comments:

‘The work originally arose out of a personal desire to bring together my two vocations as an engineer and theologian. As I surveyed the literature, I found very little that explicitly brought into conversation Christian eschatology and our contemporary preoccupation with the apparent technological future. This book seeks to contextualize the growing literature on the cultural, philosophical, and religious implications of technological growth by considering technological futurisms such as transhumanism in the context of the long historical tradition of technological dreaming. I trace the latent religious sources of our contemporary technological imagination by looking at visionary approaches to technology and the future in seminal technological utopias and science fiction. I then draw on past theological responses to the technological future to arrive at a contemporary Christian response based around the themes of possibility and promise.’

Further information on Michael’s research can be found at

Rev Prof Alister McGrath gives inaugural professorial lecture at Oxford University

The Rev Professor Alister McGrath, Academic Director of SCIO’s Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities project (which is funded by Templeton Religion Trust), recently took up the Andreas Idreos Professorship of Science and Religion at Oxford University and became Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre.  He delivered his inaugural professorial lecture at the University’s Examination Schools on 20 October, 2014 titled, “Conflict or mutual enrichment? Why science and theology need to talk to each other.” His lecture is available here.

Stan Rosenberg, SCIO’s Executive Director comments, “We are really delighted to see Professor McGrath take up this post and in this lecture clearly establish a commitment to the public presentation of science and religion from the context of his own extensive interdisciplinary training in, history of critical engagement with, and significant leadership in science and religion discussions.  This appointment continues an outstanding tradition of commitment to this critical issue at Oxford and will provide an important platform for his work in a way which will benefit many.”


SCIO lecturer appointed as researcher at the University of York

John has been appointed as a researcher on the ‘Pilgrimage and England’s Cathedrals’ project at the University of York. The project, co-sponsored by the Church of England and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, takes an interdisciplinary approach to pilgrimage and tourism in cathedrals both in the medieval period and the modern day. This follows on from his doctorate on medieval monasteries, and subsequent research on peasant experiences of parish religious life.

John comments
I find it difficult to express how much I have enjoyed working at SCIO for the past two and a half years. There is a healthy combination of academic inquisitiveness and fun amongst the students and staff, and this makes for a wonderful teaching and learning environment. I shall certainly miss it.

SCIO announces prize winners of the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford spring term 2014

SCIO is delighted to announce the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford de Jager prize winners for spring 2014. The de Jager prizes are funded by a generous donation to SCIO from Geoffrey and Caroline de Jager who have a long standing commitment to encouraging excellence in education and scholarship.

These students showed exceptional academic performance in the following aspects of the programme

Some of the students reflect on their time in Oxford below
This past semester at Oxford was, by God’s grace, a time of academic and personal growth. As one of the SCIO staff said, ‘You and your professors are on the same path of learning; they’re just further down it and are here to help you as you explore questions together’. One cannot only speak of the academics alone, though, for the program would not be what it was without the people that were part of it. Being surrounded by professors and fellow Christian students who take faith, learning, and even fun seriously, making me laugh while also inspiring me to wrestle with different life questions, has made this experience a true gift.

Richard Kovac

My time at Oxford is the highlight of my academic career thus far and an experience I will always cherish. The opportunity to study at a world-renowned institution in the wake of countless great minds of the past and present was intellectually challenging, yet enriching. My studies there helped focus my academic interests, setting me on a course to pursue graduate studies in theology. Moreover, living in such a beautiful, time-honored town brimming with history and culture was transformative for me in my development as a person, informing how I think about the world, other people, and my faith. Most importantly,  I now fully appreciate the value of afternoon tea (with scones).

Joshua Miller

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Research published by SCIO’s senior tutor, Dr Elizabeth Baigent

Two recent publications by Elizabeth Baigent, SCIO’s senior tutor, bring to a close her long-running research interest in a famous—or infamous—Victorian woman traveller.  Kate Marsden was a nurse who in the 1890s travelled to the far reaches of Siberia to bring relief to neglected lepers there and who subsequently raised money to found a hospital in Siberia which for many decades treated leprosy patients and then patients with mental health problems. Acclaimed by some as a selfless and fearless heroine, labouring in the name of Christ for the poor and outcast, she was accused by others of being a self serving imposter who spent charity funds on herself, a lesbian and/or the mistress of a Russian general, and a social climber who used her work to curry favour with the great and good, including the British royal and Russian imperial families.  Whatever the truth of the matter in this extraordinary story, Marsden’s actions and the reactions they provoked in others tell us much about how women were viewed in Victorian and Edwardian society.  Elizabeth Baigent’s present research centres on an earlier woman traveller, Marianne Starke, also a nurse, but best known as a writer of guide books to a formula later taken up by John Murray and Karl Baedeker.

For article and book chapters see
E. Baigent, ‘Travelling bodies, texts, and reputations: the gendered life and afterlife of Kate Marsden and her mission to Siberian lepers in the 1890s’, Studies in Travel Writing 18.1 (2014), 34–56;

E. Baigent, ‘”One could never reckon up all her misstatements!” Lies and deception in the life and texts of Kate Marsden, traveller to Siberia in the 1890s’, in Women, travel writing, and truth, ed. C Broome Saunders (2014), 11–29;

E. Baigent, ‘Kate Marsden’, in Geographers: Biobibliographical Studies, eds. H. Lorimer and  C.W.J. Withers (2008), 63–92.






SCIO staff member appointed Lecturer in Twentieth-century British and European History

SCIO is delighted to announce that Dr Sam Brewitt-Taylor, a longstanding member of the SCIO team, has been appointed Lecturer in Twentieth-century British and European History at Plymouth University. Sam served SCIO first as junior dean and latterly as lecturer in history, and so contributed both to the community life and the academic development of successive cohorts of students. Sam recently finished his doctorate on the 1960s Church of England, and is currently revising his thesis for publication with Oxford University Press.
He commented, ‘I look back on my junior deaning years as some of the happiest times of my life. I am deeply grateful to SCIO for providing such a happy environment in which to live, work, teach, and serve, and indeed for making my research possible in the first place.’