Katy Hinman to Lead AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion


AAAS has selected a new director for its Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program: Katharine “Katy” Hinman, who has served as the program’s associate director since 2019.

Hinman succeeds Jennifer Wiseman, who is now Director Emeritus after 12 years at the helm of DoSER.

“The voices of the faith community can be so important in how we use and apply science, how we do science ethically, and how we develop policies around these issues,” Hinman said. “I am thrilled to continue to be part of a science organization that takes these issues seriously, playing an active role in creating space for dialogue, and seeing the value of involving people of faith in science engagement. .”

DoSER connects communities

DoSER was launched in 1995 as AAAS leadership recognized the importance of connecting scientists, ethicists and faith communities, Wiseman said. Most people in the United States identify as religious, spiritual, or have a cultural identity tied to a religious tradition. The values ​​and worldviews shaped in these contexts guide how people perceive the value and roles of science and technology in society. Many faith traditions have a strong commitment to serving others and strive to integrate the best science into their congregational life and into the global ministries of education, health care, environmental stewardship, etc So, for more than 25 years, DoSER has “nurtured connections between scientists and religious communities through the excitement of scientific discovery and the promise it holds to help our society,” Wiseman said.

Scientific advances hold great promise for helping society, but they can also raise ethical questions and challenges that need to be considered beyond scientific circles, she noted. Therefore, to better serve society, AAAS seeks to ensure that scientists cultivate strong and positive engagement with the general public, including religious communities.

DoSER fosters conversations and strengthens those connections through a range of activities. Public events include symposia at the AAAS Annual Meeting and a long-running popular annual conference, which was renamed December Dialogues in 2021 to reflect an emphasis on conversation and participation. Workshops offered by DoSER prepare scientists for positive scientific engagement with people of faith in their classrooms and spheres of influence.

DoSER has also created and presented a multitude of resources available online. The videos include the popular “Science: the wide angle“series, a new series called”who is science” focused on what it means to be human and to do science and a two-part series on the survival of homo sapiens titled “become human.” A new profile series shares the real-life experience and wisdom of diverse scientists and science communicators in their engagement with faith communities.

In its early days, DoSER focused primarily on human origins and evolution, but today its events and projects touch on topics as diverse as space exploration, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, engineering genetics and environmental stewardship – all areas with great potential for a rich conversation informed by participants’ religious values, ethical concerns and scientific understanding.

The joy of curiosity and discovery is also a common thread in the DoSER commitment. “Everyone enjoys contemplating the universe and our place in it,” said Wiseman, who is also an astronomer and senior scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center. “I have found that a great entry point for conversations about science and how science fits into the larger picture of human values ​​is the shared sense of curiosity, wonder and awe that the explorations of nature evoke.”

ODoSER’s flagship project is Science for Seminars. In partnership with the Association of Theological Schools, DoSER supports a wide range of Christian and Jewish seminaries across the United States and Canada as they strive to integrate science into their coursework and campus life. . Science for Seminaries seeks to cultivate a positive understanding of science among future religious leaders and to encourage dialogue on scientific topics among faith communities.

Hinman brings his experience to the intersection of science and faith

If anyone knows the importance for religious leaders to have a solid grounding in scientific concepts and impacts to inform their conversations with the faithful, it is the new director of DoSER. Prior to joining DoSER, Hinman served as a pastor at College Park First United Methodist Church in College Park, Georgia. People seek advice and guidance from their spiritual leaders on a range of science and ethics-affected topics, such as work and health, she said. The COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has made it clear that religious leaders also serve as “science influencers,” Hinman said.

Jennifer Wiseman (left) and Katy Hinman | DoSER Staff

Beyond her pastoral work, Hinman will also draw on a range of professional experiences at the intersection of science and faith in her new role leading DoSER. She holds a doctorate. in Ecology and Evolution from the State University of New York at Stony Brook – his thesis research focused on bat pollination of agave plants in southeastern Arizona. She also received an M.Div. from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and served as executive director of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit organization that works with faith communities on environmental issues.

She joined AAAS in 2019, and since then has focused on strategic planning for DoSER, co-creating resources for a wide range of audiences, and expanding engagement with diverse faith communities.

As Director, she welcomes the opportunity to engage more with new audiences, especially with communities that may have been marginalized in science or in past dialogues at the intersection of science and religion. All voices need to be part of the conversation, she said — a lesson she brings back to her doctoral research on plant-pollinator relationships. Healthy functioning ecosystems are interdependent and each member has a role to play, she said.

“We miss so much when we don’t have a diversity of voices,” Hinman said.

Learn more about DoSER and its programs by visiting their website and by subscribing to their newsletter.


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