Consecrating Science Wonder, Ethics, and the New Cosmology: a Roundtable with Dr. Lisa Sideris

Lisa Sideris

Lisa Sideris

What is the role of wonder in contemporary environmental discourse? Come join Dr. Lisa Sideris on Friday, December 5 at 1:30 p.m. in the IUPUI University Library, Room 4115P, as she examines a constellation of movements referred to as the New Story/Universe Story/Epic of Evolution/Big History—forms of science-based ecospirituality that have emerged in recent decades. One of her central claims is that these narratives encourage awe and wonder at scientific information and expert knowledge as that which is most “real,” over and above lived encounters with the natural world. She questions whether these new myths are likely to engender the environmental values and ethics they seek to cultivate. This privileging of abstract information is pronounced in iterations of the new cosmology that take inspiration from the work of E. O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins—who promote a mythopoeic rendering of science as a superior rival to religion—but many of the same criticisms can be made of the new cosmology as it has come to dominate the broad discipline of “religion and ecology.” Dr. Sideris’s talk will draw comparisons between the forms (and objects) of wonder celebrated in these movements and accounts of wonder as an enduring orientation, such as Rachel Carson defends in The Sense of Wonder and other writings.

LISA SIDERIS is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the IU Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics, and Society (CSRES) at Indiana University Bloomington. Her research interests include environmental ethics, religion and nature, and the science-religion interface. She is author of Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection (Columbia, 2003) and editor of Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge (SUNY, 2008). Her current research focuses on the role played by wonder in discourse at the intersection of science, religion, and nature, and the turn to science for a common sacred narrative.

This is a public program open to all. An RSVP to Abby Gitlitz agitlitz@indiana.edu is appreciated but not required. Religion and Ethics Roundtables highlight the work of scholars at IUB, IUPUI, and beyond, with the goal of engaging the IU community and the public in dialogue about important issues at the intersection of religion, ethics, and society.

Fellowship Opportunities at the Huntington

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The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Huntington Fellowships

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowships

Travel Grants and Exchange Fellowships for Study in Great Britain

Dana and David Dornsife Fellowship

The Huntington, an independent research center with holdings in British and American history, literature, art history, and the history of science and medicine, maintains a collection of manuscripts that date from the eleventh century up to the present. This collection includes 7 million manuscripts, 420,000 rare books, 275,000 reference works, and 1.3 million photographs, prints, and ephemera. The Burndy Library consists of some 67,000 rare books and reference volumes in the history of science and technology, as well as an important collection of scientific instruments. Special collections include those on the Middle Ages, Renaissance, 19th- and 20th-century literature, British drama, Colonial America, American Civil War, Western America, and California. The Art Collections contain notable British and American paintings, fine prints, photographs, and an art reference library. In the library of the Botanical Gardens is a broad collection of reference works in botany, horticulture, and gardening.

These fellowships derive from a variety of funding sources and have different terms. Recipients of all fellowships are expected to be in continuous residence at the Huntington and to participate in and make a contribution to its intellectual life. Applicants must have completed all requirements for the PhD by no later than November 15, 2014, and must be a United States citizen or foreign national with a minimum of three years U.S. residence. Applicants can apply for only a short-term or long-term award during this fellowship cycle. Applicants may also submit an application for a travel grant or exchange fellowship, but they must provide a separate application with distinct cover sheet and project description, as these awards are reviewed by a separate committee.

Huntington Fellowship

The Huntington Fellowships provides doctoral level scholars or graduate students who have reached the dissertation phase $3,000 per month for one to five months between June 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. The majority of these awards will be given to scholars working in the general holdings of the Library, though there are specialized fellowships available including the Francis Bacon Foundation Fellowships in Renaissance England; the Reese Fellowship in American Bibliography and the History of the Book in the Americas; the Trent R. Dames Fellowship in the History of Civil Engineering ; the Christopher Isherwood Foundation Fellowships; and the Francis J. Weber Research Fellowship in Roman Catholic History.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowships
These fellowships provide $50,000 over a nine to twelve month fellowship between June 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016 for U.S. scholars who are pursuing scholarship in a field appropriate to the Huntington’s collections.

Travel Grants and Exchange Fellowships for Study in Great Britain
The Travel Grants and Exchange Fellowships provide for a U.S. based scholar who holds a PhD or equivalent or is a doctoral candidate at the dissertation stage travel to England, Scotland, or Wales between June 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. In addition to research that will be carried out in libraries or archives in Great Britain, the Huntington also offers exchange fellowships with Corpus Christi, Linacre, and Lincoln Colleges, Oxford; and with Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

Terms for the exchange fellowships and travel grants are as follows:

1. Linacre College, Oxford – A stipend of $3,000 is provided by the Huntington to the recipient of the fellowship before traveling to England, along with reimbursement for economy round-trip airfare. Accommodation is provided by the college with the stipulation that the fellowship must be taken up in July or August of 2015; the fellow is responsible for paying for the accommodation. The fellow must provide a written report on his or her experience.

2. Corpus Christi College/Lincoln College/Trinity Hall – Accommodation and hospitality is provided by the college, although the timing of the fellowship may be subject to the availability of housing options and to the rhythms of the academic year. The Huntington will reimburse the fellow for economy round-trip airfare before going to England. The fellow must provide a written report on his or her experience.

3. Travel Grants – The Huntington will reimburse the grantee for economy round-trip airfare before the trip. A stipend of $3,000 will be paid after the grantee submits a detailed report on the research conducted. The travel grants can be taken up as early as June 1, 2015, and no later than June 30, 2016.

Dana and David Dornsife Fellowship
This fellowship is for nine to twelve months with a stipend of $50,000 between June 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. This fellowship will support individuals who are pursuing scholarship in a field appropriate to the Huntington’s collections. Applicants must have completed all requirements for the PhD by no later than November 15, 2014.

IUPUI center serves up science lesson with students’ lunch

392504_w296INDIANAPOLIS — Food, with a helping of science, is being offered this week to youngsters at an Indianapolis school.

The initiative pairs the Southeast Neighborhood School of Excellence charter school, known as SENSE, and the Center for Earth and Environmental Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

The school, 1601 Barth Ave., is where children go for free breakfasts and lunches through Summer Servings, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Food Service Program. Once they’ve finished lunch, a Center for Earth and Environmental Science education coordinator and two interns will lead students in a two-hour-a-day scientific exploration of Pleasant Run Creek, which runs nearby through the heart of the SENSE community where the children live. The programming is part of what Kate Voss, outreach coordinator at SENSE, is calling Ecocamp.

The Center for Earth and Environmental Science will equip the children with technology and knowledge to judge by the end of the week the quality of water flowing in the stream and make recommendations for further improving the stream ecosystem.

The center was established by the Department of Earth Sciences in the School of Science at IUPUI in 1997. Among its research and educational outreach programs, the center operates Discovering the Science of the Environment, an inquiry-based and interactive science education program for Central Indiana third- through ninth-graders and education professionals. Thanks to the generosity of Dow AgroSciences, CEES is able to offer this summer science programming.

SENSE is the third Indianapolis school the Center for Earth and Environmental Science has worked with this summer, said Pam Martin, center director and an associate  professor in the School of Science and School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “We are providing outdoor science education to go along with the healthy meals provided by the Summer Servings program and school staff.

“It’s a bonus for everyone involved,” Martin said. “The science we provide gives parents another reason to bring kids for a meal and gives us the opportunity to give these kids a little science they might not otherwise get.”

While coordinated programming efforts and effective campaigns by groups such as the Indy Hunger Network have increased participation, Summer Servings participation is still low. According to a summer nutrition report, only 18 percent of qualifying children participated in July 2013. At the same time, Indiana needs to build its future workforce in science, technology, engineering and math fields and that begins with taking – and maintaining – an interest in science.

The summer Discovering the Science of Environment program is primarily about enthusiasm for science and developing a good experience with it, Martin said. “We want kids to have the experience of discovery; that is what science is all about. And while they are developing an appreciation for science, they are also developing an appreciation for the environment.”

Beginning today,  youngsters will learn about watersheds and investigate their own watershed using Google Earth satellite imagery. They will also play a water cycle board game to learn about how water changes states as it cycles through their watershed. On Tuesday, they will learn about energy flow through a food chain and investigate the biodiversity of the land along Pleasant Run. Children will then assess the stream’s physical parameters on Wednesday to determine overall stream stability and health. The stream’s discharge will be calculated as well.

A chemical assessment of water quality will be conducted Thursday, including measurements of dissolved oxygen levels, cloudiness, iron, chlorine and nitrate concentration. The week concludes with the collection of water bugs and a calculation of a pollution tolerance index.

The program at SENSE is “bringing the science home” by connecting it to everyday life, said Elizabeth Johnson, education outreach coordinator at the Center for Earth and Environmental Science, who will lead the children in the watershed exploration. “Anytime you can connect education to something familiar, it is easier to grasp.”

Johnson will be assisted by two IUPUI interns: Kenzie Whitener, a psychology major who is focusing on child psychology with the aim of working with children with behavioral problems; and Doaris Medina, an elementary education major.

Editor’s note: Reporters who would like to visit the school while students are engaged in science exploration may do so. The children will begin their science exploration about noon each day and stop at 2 p.m. Please contact Diane Brown at 317-274-2195.