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Columbia Theological Seminary Awarded Climate Science in Theological Education Grant by American Association for the Advancement of Science

Columbia Theological Seminary has been awarded a Climate Science in Theological Education (CSTE) grant by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) through their Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program.

The CSTE project provides grants to seminaries to engage climate science and climate change in the context of theological education and ministry.  Integrating science into seminary education and events will encourage interest within seminaries and surrounding communities about the relevance of science to theological education and will produce a growing number of religious leaders equipped to help their congregants find answers to science-related questions.

Columbia Theological Seminary Professor Dr. Mark Douglas, co-leader in administering the $15,000 grant with colleague Dr. Martha Moore-Keish, said Columbia is the perfect place for such a program with the success of initiatives such as last year’s Just Creation: Shalom for Our Common Home conference on climate justice.  

“I felt like they’d designed it for us,” Douglas said.  “Not only does Columbia Theological Seminary have an established track record of including attention to science in our curricula (including through a grant we received from AAAS about a decade ago), and not only does Columbia have an established commitment of pursuing environmental sustainability (one that is visible in our two LEED Gold-certified buildings), but our blossoming focus on environmental justice is growing, increasingly, towards the concerns of climate justice. 

“As with all grants, we were fortunate to receive this one,” he said.  “It also, though, feels like getting it was an expression of providence.  It moves us forward institutionally in the very ways we most want and need to go as the contemporary climate crises deepen and as CTS attempts to follow the will of God in response to those crises.”

Over the next two years, Columbia will engage constituents on and off campus with a variety of workshops and forums, culminating in a spring 2025 evening activity with the local community, co-hosted by local partnering organizations, focusing on the impact of climate change in the immediate area and the importance of pursing local climate justice initiatives.

Four overlapping components will guide their work:

Complicity – measuring Columbia’s current carbon footprint, and then inviting a scholar working at the intersection of the sciences and environmental justice to speak on campus,

Communications – working with campus officials and alumni to promote and publicize climate justice in churches and non-profits served by Columbia graduates,

Curriculum – offering a workshop for Columbia faculty focused on climate justice and pedagogies and inserting the concerns of climate justice into syllabi,

Community – ensuring that this work works in conjunction with Columbia’s local partners in climate justice.

“We are grateful to receive this generous grant from the AAAS,” said Dr. Christine Roy Yoder, Columbia’s Senior Vice President and Dean of Faculty. “Under the excellent leadership of Drs. Douglas and Moore-Keish, this project is an important and timely next step in Columbia’s commitments to be and educate stewards and repairers of creation.”

About the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals.  The nonprofit is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. Building upon its, mission, AAAS established the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER) program in 1995 to facilitate communication between scientific and religious communities. For the latest information and news about AAAS DoSER and the Climate Science in Theological Education project, visit AAAS.org/DoSER, ScienceReligionDialogue.org, and ScienceforSeminaries.org.