Religion scholars at Indiana University to study ‘Being Human’

By Nikola Jovanovic/Public domain via Unsplash

Funded with a $1 million grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, three scholars in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington plan to look at what makes us human.

The “Being Human” project will look at religion, science and technology and more specifically how science and technology are forces shaping and being shaped by religion as well as how together they are impacting humanity and nature.

Constance Furey, chair of the Department of Religious Studies, said that the question of being human is a religious question.

“Because theology and religion are inspired as much by what we don’t know as what we do, they enable the sort of open-minded thinking we urgently need right now, about what it means to be a human living on and with the Earth,” said Furey, who was a co-recipient of the grant.

Constance Furey, Lisa Sideris and Winnifred Sullivan are leading the grant, and Sullivan will serve as the new UI Bloomington Center for Religion and the Human’s first director. The center is being formed with additional support from the College of Arts and Sciences and a commitment from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

Beyond the work of religion scholars, the departments of English, anthropology, history and biology as well as the Media School and the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies and the Integrated Program in the Environment will be included in the uniquely interdisciplinary effort.

The grant’s initiatives in its entirety include:

  • Religion, Science and Technology, looking at how science and technology, as forces shaping and shaped by religion, are impacting humanity and nature.
  • American Religion, broadening the conversation about religion in the Americas to include emerging and often marginalized scholarship, through creation of a new journal, a digital platform and various public events.
  • Teaching Religion in Public, featuring collaborative meetings between faculty, students and people teaching religion in public settings outside the university such as high schools and nonprofit organizations.
  • Emerging Scholars Program, a series of four summer institutes for multidisciplinary scholars from across the United States working on religion.
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