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CTNS Gives GTU an Endowed Chair and Fellowships in Theology and Science Worth Nearly $2.1M

The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) has given the Graduate Theological Union the endowed Ian G. Barbour Chair in Theology and Science and two endowed fellowships, the Russell Family Fellowship in Religion and Science and the Charles H. Townes Graduate Student Fellowship in Theology and Science. These gifts, valued at nearly $2.1M, mark the latest and most significant step in the year-long transition through which CTNS will shift from being an independently incorporated GTU affiliate to an internal program of the GTU.

Founded in 1981, the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences is a world leader in the international and interfaith field of science and religion. The recent gifts to the GTU are among CTNS’s core programs. The Ian G. Barbour Chair in Theology and Science is an endowed faculty position at the GTU that supports course offerings in science and theology at the MDiv and PhD level. The Russell Family Fellowship in Religion and Science brings a distinguished visiting scholar to the GTU for research, teaching, and public service each year. The Charles H. Townes Graduate Student Fellowship offers financial support to GTU doctoral students specializing in theology and science. CTNS also produces the scholarly quarterly journal, Theology and Science, published by Routledge, Taylor & Francis. (A print and online subscription is included in CTNS membership.) The CTNS website features hundreds of pages of free resources for scholars, scientists, clergy, and the general reader. 

Dr. Robert John Russell, the Founder and Director of CTNS and the first holder of the Barbour Chair, and Dr. Riess Potterveld, President of the GTU, signed papers transferring the chair and fellowships to the GTU during the CTNS Annual Board Meeting on December 5, 2015. Funding for the chair and fellowships came originally from a $1M gift from Dr. Ian Barbour, a pioneer of science and religion who won the $1.5M Templeton Prize in 1999, as well as from additional development efforts by the CTNS Board since the chair was established in 2006.

The transition through which CTNS will become an internal Program of the GTU is scheduled to be completed this summer, and is supported by $1.3 million in funding from the John Templeton Foundation. As a program of the GTU, CTNS will give the GTU world recognition as a stellar leader in the international and interfaith field of science and religion. The GTU, in turn, will provide CTNS with a permanent institutional foundation, allowing the Center to expand and enhance its series of international science and religion programs as well as its core programs of research, teaching, and public service. In addition to the programs highlighted above, CTNS international efforts have included a four-year, $16M “Science and Religion Course Program” directed by PLTS Professor Ted Peters, that helped create more than 300 new courses in science and religion and sponsored dozens of teaching conferences at research universities, colleges, and seminaries worldwide; a seven-year, $5M program on “Science and the Spiritual Quest” led by current CDSP President Mark Richardson and Claremont Professor Philip Clayton that sponsored distinguished public lectures by more than 100 world-class scientists relating their personal experiences in doing research to spirituality; and a twenty-year history of organizing conferences and publications in partnership with the Vatican Observatory.

GTU President Riess Potterveld celebrates the deepening of the relationship between CTNS and the GTU: “Since its founding, CTNS has brought to the world stage issues integral to the discourse in science and religion, and it has been breaking new ground through its innovative research, teaching, and contributions to the public conversation. We are delighted to welcome the Center into a new and even more vital relationship as a program and an integral part of the Graduate Theological Union.”