Center for Theology and Natural Sciences Celebrates Dr. Robert Russell’s 40-Years of Leadership, Welcomes Dr. Braden Molhoek as New Director

BERKELEY, CA – January 18, 2022 – The Graduate Theological Union is pleased to celebrate 40 years of visionary leadership from Dr. Robert Russell, who recently announced his retirement as Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science and Director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS). Dr. Russell will conclude his tenure on June 30, 2022. 

“Over the past 40 years, Dr. Russell has paved the way for scholars around the world working at the intersection of science and theology. By establishing CTNS and growing it into what it is today, Dr. Russell leaves a living legacy, which will, no doubt, continue to advance innovative scholarship for decades to come,” said Dr. Elizabeth Peña, Interim Dean and VP for Academic Affairs. 

Founded in 1981 as an Affiliate of the GTU by Dr. Russell, CTNS became an Academic Center of the GTU in 2016. CTNS promotes the creative mutual interaction between theology and the natural sciences through research, teaching, and public service.

During his tenure as CTNS Director, Dr. Russell taught and supervised the work of 35 doctoral students and hundreds of seminary students, established the Ian G. Barbour Chair in Theology and Science, created two Fellowship programs, and co-founded the peer reviewed journal Theology and Science. 

“My 40 years at CTNS have been filled with immense academic and personal blessings, from working with tremendous graduate students to developing CTNS publications and creating research and teaching grants,” Dr. Russell said. “The culmination of this work has been the creation of the Ian G. Barbour Professorship in Theology and Science and establishing CTNS as an internal and permanent program of the GTU in 2016.”   

Looking ahead, CTNS is proud to welcome Dr. Braden Molhoek as the next Director of CTNS and Ian G. Barbour Assistant Professor of Theology, Science, Ethics, and Technology.

Dr. Molhoek joined the CTNS staff in 2005, during the first year of his doctoral work at the GTU. After earning his PhD at the GTU in Ethics and Social Theory in 2016, Dr. Molhoek became a GTU rostered faculty member and a lecturer in Science, Technology, and Ethics; he also taught courses on software and bioengineering ethics in the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University. He played a key role in CTNS becoming an Academic Center at the GTU in 2016. 

Under Dr. Molhoek’s leadership, CTNS will continue to pursue new frontiers at the intersections of science and religion. Most recently, CTNS has been exploring issues of astrobiology, astrotheology, artificial intelligence, and transhumanism. 

“Dr. Molhoek is the perfect choice for new leadership of CTNS,” Dr. Russell said. “Wonderfully experienced in research and teaching, and with an extensive background in theology and science, he will smoothly take up these two centerpiece roles of Chair and Director of CTNS and broaden the reaches and potential of our program.” 

A celebration of Dr. Russell will be held on Thursday, May 19 from 5–7pm (PT) in the GTU Boardroom and adjacent Outdoor Terrace. Colleagues, former students, and others will be invited to share their appreciation of Dr. Russell.

Find photos from the event at Ted Peters' Patheos blog, here


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