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Science and Religion in Education Conference

Date: Friday 28th October

Time: 9.30 am- 5.30 pm

Location: University of Oxford, Department of Education, 15 Norham Gardens, OX2 6PY

Keynote Alister McGrath, Chair Michael Reiss

New ways to discover and advance students’ and the wider public’s reasoning about science and religion

A conference exploring links between education, science and religion, organised by the LASAR Project with the Department of Education, University of Oxford and Christ Church Canterbury University.

Conference Description:

Some people believe that science and religion are necessarily opposed and compete for the same territory. The pervasiveness of the conflict thesis – in schools and among the wider public – is underpinned by a myriad of complex factors. This conference will discuss why the conflict thesis is so prevalent in people’s thinking, and will showcase research and activities designed to improve students’ and the wider public’s understanding of how science and religion relate.
There is a call below for papers for 15 minute presentations on each of three themes.


In any multidisciplinary field, people are knowledgeable in a particular field but not necessarily expert in others. This conference is an opportunity for participants to share their findings and expertise and at the same time discover new ideas and new perspectives. We believe that the conference will be beneficial for the following groups:

• Researchers in education (particularly science and religious education)
• Academics including philosophers, scientists, theologians and historians interested in the relationships between science and religion;
• Science teachers and science teacher educators;
• RE teachers and RE teacher educators;
• Postgraduate and undergraduate students on teacher education courses;
• Postgraduate and undergraduate students studying philosophy, theology, natural sciences, religious studies and related subjects.

Call for papers:

There will be three Short Paper sessions (described below) for which all attendees are encouraged to submit proposals. Each speaker will have a maximum of 15 minutes presentation time, followed by questions and discussion. Acceptance of papers will be based on quality, originality, relevance to the conference theme and plausibility of presentation within 15 minutes. We may run parallel sessions in order to include more presentations.


Short Paper session 1: Beyond Barbour:

Ian Barbour proposed four major models to convey how science might relate to religion: Conflict, Independence, Dialogue, and Integration. Are these ideal for teaching or are there more effective and participatory ways to involve learners in the discovery of how science and religion might relate? Papers are invited that address for example:

  • What is a novel way to explain the relationship between science and religion?
  • What are effective models for helping children to conceptualise the relationship between science and religion?
  • Can visual models help early learners understand the sort of claims science and religion make?


Short Paper session 2: Beyond Bare Statistics

Research over many decades shows that school students tend to see science and religion as opposed. Understanding why this is can be better understood via research that looks at who children are, what they believe, how they think and what they learn and access. Papers are invited that address for example:

• What do young people think about the relationships between science and religion – and why?
• Alongside surveys and interviews, what other methods can reveal children’s thinking?
• What are the questions and topics that most readily engage young people and those who work with them?


Short Paper session 3:  Beyond Chalk and Talk

Papers in this session will present and discuss resources and interventions relating to science and religion. It will look both at how gaps and misconceptions can be effectively addressed and also at how activities and resources can be strategically delivered. Papers are invited that address for example:

• What is the impact of particular approaches on students’ or teachers’ perceptions of how science and religion relate?
• What courses, tools and activities are available for learners of different ages?
• What are the most effective methods to reach a given audience?


Instructions for submitting short papers:

Email your proposal as a Word document of up to 700 words to Dr Berry Billingsley, lasar@reading.ac.uk
Proposals will be considered on receipt.

Conference proceedings:
Conference presenters will be invited to submit a chapter or chapter section for an academic audience including researchers, teacher educators, curriculum planners and policy makers. LASAR also commissions writers to produce articles and resources for its project-related websites – including www.faradayschools.com.


Provisional Conference timings:

9.30 am Registration
10.00 am Professor Michael Reiss (Chair)
10.10 am Professor Alister McGrath (Keynote) Beyond Boundaries
10.40 am -11.10 am LASAR research findings presented by Dr Berry Billingsley
11.10 am -11.30 am Break
11.30 am -12.45 pm Short Paper Session 1; Convenor: Dr Bethany Sollereder
12.45 pm – 1.45 pm Lunch
1.45 pm – 2.15 pm Chair’s introduction to the afternoon: Professor Michael Reiss
2.20 pm – 3.50 pm
Short Paper Session 2; Convenors: Professor Michael Reiss, Dr Ann Childs, Dr Liam Gearon, Dr Berry Billingsley
3.50 pm – 4.10 pm Break
4.10 pm – 5.15 pm
Short Session Paper 3; Convenors: Professor Michael Reiss, Dr Ann Childs, Dr Liam Gearon, Dr Berry Billingsley
5.15 pm – 5.30 pm Closing remarks presented by Prof Michael Reiss



© 2011 LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion)