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April 04, 2011

What do Scientists Really Think about Religion?

Rice University Professor of Sociology Elaine Howard Ecklund, author of Science vs. Religion; What Scientists Really Think (Oxford University Press, May 2010).    

…at the Harvard Faculty Club Monday, April 4, 6:00 – 9:00 PM 


…AND at the MIT Faculty Club, Tuesday, April 5, 6:00 – 9:00 PM 

Ecklund surveyed 1,700 scientists (extensively interviewing 275) at the twenty-one Top American Research Universities (as reported annually through the University of Florida, and is now reported through Arizona State University), finding that most of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists needs to be reconsidered. With implications for education, funding, solving thorny ethical questions and promoting cutting-edge research, Ecklund brings a dose of reality to the arena of science and religion.

Elaine Howard Ecklund is a Rice scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy and director of the Program on Religion and Public Life at the Institute for Urban Research. Exploring mechanisms of institutional change draws together Ecklund's research. Specifically, she is interested in how individuals develop cognitive schema – ways of interpreting the world – that are at odds with institutions that constrain them. She then examines how individuals use such frameworks to bring changes to these larger institutions. Her research addresses theoretical topics in the areas of religion, immigration, science, and civic life. Ecklund is currently directing three national research projects. Religion among Academic Scientists (RAAS) is a national study on religion and spirituality among scientists at elite research universities, the first study in over twenty years to systematically gather data on this topic. The Religious Immigrant Civic Engagement Study (R.I.C.E.) – funded by the Russell Sage Foundation – examines changes to civil society as a result of recent immigration to the US. The third examines the experiences of women in academic biology and physics and is funded by the National Science Foundation.