Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science and Ethics for high school students returns this summer, running from June 20 through June 26 on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota.

The theme this year is “Why: the ethics of cancer and its treatment.” Organizers point out that in recent decades, researchers have made great strides in understanding both the progression of cancer in the human individual and the ways the individual’s immune system responds to it. The findings have led to the development of cancer therapies that can strategically target cancer cells, with fewer side effects than would be experienced through chemotherapy.

While there are questions surrounding these treatments and how to support patients in the long-term following diagnosis, there is also the perennial question as to why do bad things happen to good people and where is God in all this suffering?

Speaking at the week-long academy will be theologian-in-residence: Dr. Deanna Thompson, who has documented her cancer diagnosis through her theo-memoir, Hoping for More: Having Cancer, Talking Faith, and Accepting Grace (Cascade, 2012). Her latest book is Glimpsing Resurrection: Cancer, Trauma, and Ministry (WJK, 2018) draws on emerging research on illness-related trauma and offers ways to make space in our religious stories and communities for those undone by illness in ways that foster hope.

The scientist-in-residence this year is Dr. Scott Bur, who has been on the faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College since 2003. He teaches primarily organic chemistry, but has also taught a medicinal chemistry course and a course based on fermentation. Bur earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, where he worked on new ways to make molecules, specifically molecules containing nitrogen atoms. After that he moved to Atlanta, where he worked under an NIH postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratories of Professor Albert Padwa at Emory University.

Students who have completed 9th, 10th, or 11th grade by June 2020 are allowed to apply for the summer academy. There is an enrollment fee, but all other costs are covered through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment.
More information can by found on the academy’s website.


Susan Barreto


Susan is an author with a long-time interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology’s online magazine. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member for the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and the Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our Bodies Are Selves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.

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