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Elaine Howard Ecklund, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Rice University


October 28, 2010 at 9:00 PM EDT


Chesterton House – Residence

Robert & Mabel Beggs Lecture on Science, Spirituality and Society

**Dr. Ecklund will be interviewed on All Things Equal, a Cornell-sponsored radio talk show Tuesday October 26.  You can listen live by tuning in to WHCU, 870 AM, at 8:30 AM, or listen to the podcast, which will be posted later that day, on the All Things Equal website.**

Americans support science as well as religion—two things often at odds. While there are journalistic accounts, no definitive work asks how scientists view the connection between religion and science in their work and their lives. In the wake of recent controversies about teaching intelligent design and the ethics of stem cell research, greater understanding between scientists and religious believers is critical. National surveys tell us what the public thinks about science but we know little about how scientists engage with religion and spirituality. What is needed is a balanced assessment—a survey of the middle ground that can exist between science and religion. Achieving this middle ground of dialogue requires knowing how scientists respond to and engage with religion and spirituality in a variety of contexts. Based on thousands of hours spent talking to the nation’s leading scientists, Ecklund will discuss how, on the one hand, even the most secular of scientists struggle with what implications their work has for religion and often still look to religious communities for the moral education of their children. On the other hand, she will provide an in-depth look at the scientists who are without faith and those with faith who are fighting to maintain their religious commitments while facing the high demands of their elite careers. Instead of a polemic or a manifesto, Ecklund will discuss how well-intentioned leaders might cross the picket lines to decrease cynicism of science and myths about religion.


Elaine Howard Ecklund is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rice University, where she also serves as a Rice Scholar of the James Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and Director of the Program on Religion and Public Life at the Institute for Urban Research.

Ecklund received her BS, MA and PhD from Cornell University. Her work has appeared in numerous scholarly outlets including the Annual Review of Sociology, Social Forces, andAmerican Behavioral Scientist. Her first book, Korean American Evangelicals: New Models for Civic Life was published by Oxford University Press.

Ecklund is currently directing three national research projects, including Religion Immigration Civic Engagement (R.I.C.E.)Influences on Science Careers, and Religion among Academic Scientists. The latter is a study on religion and spirituality among scientists at elite research universities, which already has generated widespread coverage in both popular and academic periodicals. See, for example:


Ecklund’s forthcoming book, which is the first work to scientifically examine the religious beliefs of the top research scientists in the United States, is entitled Science Vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think (Oxford Press). The book will be released on April 7, 2010, just one week before her visit to Cornell.

Please join us to hear about this important new research from one of America’s finest young sociologists of religion.

The Beggs lecture is sponsored by Cornell United Religious Work (CURW).

Chesterton House Painting