Supporting Structures: FAQ
These FAQs are designed to help you to decide whether to apply and, if you do, to understand the goals of the programme and submit a strong application.
Before completing an application form, please read the FAQs thoroughly. We cannot give individual guidance on your application or informally review it.
We welcome suggestions for other FAQs. Please notify us if you would like to suggest a question.
1) Who is offering the grants?
Scholarship & Christianity in Oxford (SCIO), the U.K. subsidiary of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), is a research and educational institute in Oxford, England, working in partnership with Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. It serves CCCU institutions in North America and elsewhere and the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty members of those institutions by producing and supporting scholarship and running scholarly projects of the highest standard. It offers two rigorous study abroad programs, the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford and Oxford Summer Programme, along with SCIO Online courses. These enable students to develop academically and experience scholarly life at a major research university. For more information, visit http://www.scio-uk.org/
The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of more than 180 Christian institutions around the world. Since 1976, the CCCU has served as the leading national voice of Christian higher education. With campuses across the globe, including more than 150 in the U.S. and Canada and more than 30 from an additional 18 countries, CCCU institutions are accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities whose missions are Christ-centered and rooted in the historic Christian faith. Most also have curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. The CCCU’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. www.cccu.org
Founded in 1987, the John Templeton Foundation supports research and dialogue on the deepest and most perplexing questions facing humankind. The Foundation funds work on subjects ranging from black holes and evolution to creativity, forgiveness, and free will. It also encourages civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, theologians, and the public at large. With over $3 billion in assets and annual grants of $115 million in 2018, the Foundation ranks among the 25 largest grant-making foundations in the United States. Headquartered outside Philadelphia, its philanthropic activities have engaged all major faith traditions and extended to more than 190 countries around the world. www.templeton.org
The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust has been supporting the growth of Pacific Northwest nonprofits since 1975. From day one, the Trust’s mission has been to serve individuals, families and communities across the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, through grantmaking, enrichment programs and convenings that strengthen the region’s educational, social, spiritual and cultural base in ways that are innovative and sustainable. The Murdock Trust invests in transformational ideas. www.murdocktrust.org
2) How many grants are available?
3 institutions will receive grants of 2 years each, valued at up to $133,427. Each 2-year grant will support 2 Faculty Fellows, as well as providing a broad range of benefits to the grantee institution.
5 institutions will receive grants of three years each, valued at up to $192,379. Each 3-year grant will support 3 Faculty Fellows, as well as providing a broad range of benefits to the grantee institution.
3) Which CCCU institutions are eligible to apply?
Applications will be considered from governing members and collaborative partners of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities who are located in North America (i.e., United States and Canada).
4) Who may submit an application?
These grants are designed to support the STEM-related mission and activity of CCCU institutions. It is therefore an institution-based application and should be submitted by a senior institutional representative such as a Chief Academic Officer, Provost, Dean, or other delegated senior academic officer, rather than by an individual scholar.
5) When is the application deadline, and when will I be informed of the outcome?
Please see the application timeline here.
6) What constitutes a strong application?
- Evidence of the applying institution being a science-affirming institution.
- Evidence of a strategy for supporting and enhancing research and teaching in a range of STEM fields.
- The selection of 2-3 early career STEM Faculty Fellows who are already research active, who show promise as researchers and teachers, and who are on the tenure track or your institution’s equivalent (reflecting the institution’s hope that they will become long-term members of the institution’s faculty).
- Evidence of their ability to collaborate and form connections with teams of researchers.
- A commitment by designated Faculty Fellows to participate in the Oxford Interdisciplinary Seminars in Science, Religion, and Society.
- Evidence of commitment among STEM faculty to public engagement of science and science research.
- A positive strategy for impacting the institution’s various stakeholders and communities on science-related matters.
- Commitment among institutional leaders to seeing a cohort of faculty across the disciplines of STEM, humanities, and social sciences trained through the monthly webinars in science, religion and society and to support them in discussions of related issues within the campus community.
- Commitment by the applying institution’s president to participate in the Presidents’ Roundtable in Oxford, UK.
- Commitment among institutional leaders to enhancing diversity among STEM faculty, and a positive strategy for attaining such.
- Evidence of willingness and ability to support undergraduate researchers and support a student science, religion, and society club.
- Evidence of faculty member sponsors of the science, religion, and society club who have a vision and who are committed to working with students on pertinent issues.
- Commitment among institutional leaders to support the wide range of proposed campus-based activities.
7) Why is there a 2-stage application process?
In order to minimise the work colleges must do to submit an initial application, the application process has been split into 2 parts. Based on the applications materials submitted during stage 1, selected applicants will be invited to submit further materials during stage 2.
8) You keep referring to Faculty Fellows. Who are they?
Faculty Fellows are the 2 or 3 early career STEM faculty members per grant who each will have research leave to carry out research at a collaborating laboratory, participate in the monthly webinars on science, religion, and society for one academic year, and participate in the two summer seminars in Oxford.
There is no expectation that all Faculty Fellows over the life of the grant will come from within the same discipline and/or departments. The grant provides an opportunity for the senior academic officer submitting the application to develop a strategy and decide — predicated on their institution’s own context — how to make use of the opportunities across their institution’s departments.
9) Laboratories or research groups at what sorts of institutions may host Faculty Fellows’ research?
Faculty Fellows’ proposed research should be undertaken in laboratories or research groups at R1 universities or comparable high-level research institutions.
Collaborations with nearby institutions are preferred, but we recognise that in some instances more distant collaborations may be more appropriate.
Proposed research projects should capitalise on research infrastructure at the partner university or research institution that is not normally available at the applying institution.
Collaborating laboratories should be chosen predicated on appropriateness to the research to be conducted each year. There is no expectation that the same laboratory will host more than one Faculty Fellow from the applying institution, although it may, should such an arrangement be appropriate.
For stage 1 of the application process, applying institutions will need to describe the current state of negotiations between the applying institution, the host research laboratory, and the Year 1 Faculty Fellow at the application closing date, but those negotiations will not be expected to have been completed by the stage 1 closing date. A detailed letter or memorandum of understanding describing the terms of the collaboration will be required only from those institutions invited to stage 2.
10) What kinds of research projects are you looking for?
We are looking primarily to support Faculty Fellows conducting fundamental research in the following disciplines: physics, chemistry, astronomy and planetary science, biology and zoology, geology, climatology and earth sciences, experimental psychology and neuroscience.
The specific division or faculty within which the proposed research is to be conducted is less important than the disciplinary identity of the research, and the nature of the research as fundamental/basic as opposed to practical/applied. If, for example, one of your Faculty Fellows has their primary appointment in a health sciences division of your institution but conducts fundamental research in an area that aligns with one or more of these disciplines, that is perfectly acceptable. Similarly, if the host laboratory is located within a medical school or health sciences program but conducts fundamental research, that too is perfectly acceptable.
The outline research proposals for the 2-3 Faculty Fellows will be evaluated on the basis of their originality, their ability to advance the field, and the extent to which the proposed research capitalises on research infrastructure at the partner university or research institution that is not normally available at the applying institution.
11) My institution will not be able to release its Faculty Fellows from their teaching, administrative, and other duties, and/or participate in one of the other key features of the grant, and/or cover UK travel costs. Can we still apply?
In order for an application to be considered, the applying institution must agree to participate fully in the project as outlined. This includes releasing Faculty Fellows from as much of their teaching and administration load as is necessary to provide them with a full year of half-time research leave (or equivalent).
12) Can grant funding be paired with other funding or sabbatical support to provide full release for a Faculty Fellow for a full academic year?
Yes, such an approach would be viewed very positively and would be worth incorporating into the application if known at that time.
13) What are the expectations of the student clubs?
Each grantee institution must sponsor a Science, Religion and Society club. These clubs aim to bring together students to shape and advance their interests, aspirations, and commitment to scholarship and engagement in science and religion in society. Funding for the club may support an existing interdisciplinary Science and Religion club if one already exists on campus.
For those institutions who founded Science and Religion clubs as part of prior SCIO projects, please note these now have an expanded remit and commitment in this project: society. Funds used for to support existing clubs need to take into account this broader realm of engagement.
In the case of new clubs, an appropriate faculty member should be named as the club’s primary faculty sponsor. Faculty Fellows need not be the primary sponsor (and during their research leave perhaps should not be), but they are expected to support and contribute to the work of the club. The club should be supported by at least one of the faculty members participating in the monthly webinars.
We are not mandating particular activities for the club, but we will need to be convinced that the club’s plans are viable and fit the campus context. Events might include major speaker events, hosting student conferences, funding students to attend conferences elsewhere, and the like. Before funds will be released, grantee institutions will submit a campus environment/culture statement along with their plans for the club which we will review and approve.
14) Can you tell me more about the undergraduate research funds?
Participating institutions will be given funds to employ undergraduate researchers as research assistants. These funds are intended to enhance the culture of undergraduate research on campus and aid in the students’ development as scholars, providing them with the research experience that is increasingly expected among those applying to do graduate studies in the natural sciences at major research-intensive universities. The student researchers will be encouraged to publish in undergraduate research journals and/or be named members of the research team in its publications.
It is generally expected that the undergraduate researchers would be involved (whether during term-time or during the summer holiday) in the same projects and labs as the Faculty Fellows, and would work directly with the Fellows, although we will consider alternative arrangements if necessary.
15) Can you tell me more about the diversity in STEM faculty development fund?
Each grant includes funding to help campuses focus on developing diversity amongst STEM faculty. With a notable dearth of diversity among STEM faculty more broadly, and particular challenges to support such a commitment at smaller liberal arts colleges, these funds aim to bolster institutional efforts to encourage greater diversity in STEM, and thereby to help applying grantee institutions make the enhancement of diversity an integral part of their mission.
During the application process, institutions will provide considerable detail about their plan for using these funds. Applicants will be asked for an assessment of the state of diversity on their campuses, both within STEM fields and more broadly, among students and faculty, and for a description of where there is a need for greater investment.
Applying institutions may be creative when thinking about how the diversity funds will be spent. Activities may include (but are by no means limited to) specific events to promote and support diversity in STEM, bring in recognised experts on diversity to address students and staff, hire consultants to help craft specific departmental practices and policies that will bolster the retention of underrepresented faculty, and using the funds directly to hire or retain STEM faculty members from underrepresented groups.
Applying institutions may propose bundling their efforts by, for example, combining diversity activities and public engagement using funds from both categories. The choice of Faculty Fellows could also be a means to strengthening a campus’s attention to diversity.
For stage 1 of the application process, applying institutions will need to provide only broad outlines of their plans to use grant funds to enhance diversity among STEM faculty on campus. Further details about their plans will be requested from those institutions invited to stage 2.
16) Can you tell me more about the STEM campus engagement fund?
This funding is intended to support activities that strengthen the development of serious cultures of scientific engagement both on CCCU campuses, and among those communities that feed into, support, and surround CCCU institutions. Through public engagement activities, grantee institutions will have the opportunity to shape the understanding of STEM-related issues among the wider student body on campus, and among broader stakeholders and the wider community (e.g., families of students, board members, trustees, alumni, financial supporters, denominational and church supporters, others in the immediate geographic region, etc.).
During the application process, applying institutions will need to propose meaningful plans for public engagement with science and science research on their campuses.
For stage 1 of the application process, applying institutions will need to provide only broad outlines of their plans to use grant funds to carry out or enhance public engagement with science and science research on campus. Further details about their plans will be requested from those institutions invited to stage 2.
17) Can you tell me more about the office of research and grant support component?
Small liberal arts colleges sometimes lack the funding and focus on running offices to sufficiently support faculty grant writing, to assist with grant reporting (to grantors and broader academic bodies), to manage Institutional Review Board (IRB) policies and procedures, and to give advice on research protocols. To better institutionalize the support of science on campuses, the project is planning to run a one-day conference on best practices and practical steps for establishing such offices at CCCU member institutions.
The meeting will explore a range of issues, including whether collaborative efforts might be undertaken by participating campuses so as to (for example) take advantage of a wider array of those discipline-specific skills that IRBs require to be effective.
18) What is the Presidents’ Roundtable and when and where will it be held?
The Presidents’ Roundtable for grantee institutions’ presidents and their Faculty Fellows is intended to help presidents understand current issues in science, religion, and society, and to strengthen the working relationship between the Faculty Fellows and the leaders of her or his institution. Because presidents have final control of matters such as tenure, academic policy, budgets, and so on, it is vital that they are aware of the main issues, opportunities, current developments, and areas of broad consensus.
It is assumed that each grantee institution’s president will take part, and all applying institutions will be required to confirm this during the application process. However, in a limited number of cases where a president is unable to participate, we may consider allowing a replacement, such as the chief academic officer, to attend the Roundtable. This arrangement may be altered only by prior agreement and is the exception rather than the norm.
The presidential roundtable will require presidents to be in Oxford for three to four days.
19) What is the play tour?
A live performance of the new play based on the life of Michael Faraday, Fire from Heaven: Michael Faraday and the Dawn of the Electrical Age, will be put on at each grantee institution. Faraday was arguably one of the greatest experimental scientists of the 19th century. The play is presented by the same creative team which offered Mr Darwin’s Tree (www.mrdarwinstree.com). The play will also be shown at the Presidents’ Roundtable in Oxford.
The playwriter, Murray Watts, summarizes Faraday’s attraction as follows: “Michael Faraday is one of the most brilliant, inspiring and loveable characters in human history. He is utterly fascinating to the dramatist and his story will surely appeal to any audience that enjoys a classic tale of achievement against impossible odds, a beautiful love story shining against a backdrop of suffering and bitter class prejudice, and a period drama set in one of the most enticing and colorful eras of the past: the age of the Romantic Poets.”
20) Who is organizing the project, the summer seminars and monthly webinars?
The webinars and summer seminars will be organised by SCIO project staff. Staff details are available on a separate page.
21) What are the location and dates of the summer seminars?
The summer programme for Faculty Fellows will take place in Oxford, UK in mid/late July 2022 and again in mid/late July 2024, with each week-long meeting timed to coincide with the annual Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion conference.
The Presidents’ Roundtable will be held in conjunction with the July 2024 meeting and will include shared meetings with the Faculty Fellows.
Past summer seminars in science and religion have been held at Wycliffe Hall, St Hugh’s College, and Lady Margaret Hall, three of Oxford’s 45 colleges and halls. Summer seminars are expected to be housed at one of these three colleges again.
22) Why hold the summer seminars in Oxford? Why SCIO?
Oxford is one of the world centres of science and religion scholarship and engagement, offering virtually unrivalled opportunities and resources in this field. Oxford’s history, international standing, and institutional structure serve these interests in a fashion that few other major research universities can. In addition, Oxford gives ready access to lecturers and mentors from the continent, and the combination of American, British, and other European scholars provides rich opportunities to support the purposes of this project. Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and Religion is one of the notable departments internationally dealing with the subject, and features both the Idreos Andreos Chair in Science and Religion (currently held by Professor Alister McGrath, with whom SCIO has worked closely since SCIO’s inception in 2000) and the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion.
Oxford is one of the world centres of science and religion scholarship and engagement, offering virtually unrivalled opportunities and resources in this field. Oxford’s history, international standing, and institutional structure serve these interests in a fashion that few other major research universities can. In addition, Oxford gives ready access to lecturers and mentors from the continent, and the combination of American, British, and other European scholars provides rich opportunities to support the purposes of the seminars. Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and Religion is one of the notable departments internationally dealing with the subject, and features both the Idreos Andreos Chair in Science and Religion (currently held by Professor Alister McGrath, with whom SCIO has worked closely since SCIO’s inception in 2000) and the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion.
For its semester and summer student programs, SCIO works in partnership with Wycliffe Hall, a permanent private hall of the University of Oxford and Church of England theological college offering ordination training and advanced degrees in theology.
23) What have past participants in SCIO’s Oxford Interdisciplinary Seminars in Science, Religion, and Society gained from the program?
Further information will be provided soon.
24) What sort of reporting will be required, by whom, and to whom?
Grantee institutions will be required to report regularly to SCIO. Those reports will be submitted via the relevant senior academic officer’s office. Institutional reports will be incorporated by SCIO into its own reports to the funder.
Mid-year reports will briefly describe the outputs and impact of all key grant-related activities on campus and in among stakeholder communities. More detailed end-of-year reports will also focus on the outputs from the Faculty Fellow’s research. A full final report will be due in summer 2024 at the close of the project.
25) Is high proficiency in the English language necessary for participants?
Yes. There will be no translation services available for the monthly webinars or the summer seminars.
26) I am not from a CCCU institution. Can I still apply?
Unfortunately, applications can only be considered from governing members and collaborative partners of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
27) I am a faculty member or independent scholar. Can I apply?
Applications can come only from the applying institution’s Chief Academic Officer or delegated representative. Applications from individual faculty members, or from independent scholars, will not be considered.
28) Will I need a passport of a visa for the UK, and if so who is responsible for obtaining it?
All participants will need a valid passport to travel to the UK. Visa requirements vary according on the country which has issued your passport. Please consult https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa/y. Further details will be given to grantee institutions. Each participant is responsible for obtaining a passport and visa and for meeting the legal requirements for travel to the UK. SCIO will provide a letter of invitation and support if required.