Science, Religion, and Society: Lessons from the U.S. Case

Science, Religion, and Society: Lessons from the U.S. Case

Tuesday, April 6, 2021  •  1:00pm MST  •  Online, via Zoom

“Follow the science, not politics.” That simple injunction became a point of contestation in this past year’s bitter clashes over the pandemic and points to something scholarly interpreters have learned about science in recent decades: that it is, in Steven Shapin’s words, “never pure.”

Join us as Professor Andrew Jewett explores how social and cultural developments in the twentieth-century United States helped to cement the belief that science and politics are fundamentally opposed, along with the parallel view that science and religion are entirely separate and mutually exclusive. Building on his recent book Science under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America (Harvard University Press, 2020), Jewett will offer a series of historically grounded reflections on how we might move beyond such entrenched dichotomies.

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About the speaker:

Andrew Jewett is currently the Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Scholar at Georgia College. During 2021-2022, he will serve as the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Distinguished Visiting Professor of Ethics and Leadership at the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs. A historian by training, he is particularly interested in the politics of knowledge and engagements between religion and science (including the social sciences). His writings examine how political ideologies have intersected with knowledge claims and ethical commitments, especially in the modern United States. 

In Science, Democracy, and the American University: From the Civil War to the Cold War (Cambridge UP, 2012), Jewett explored the cultural and political hopes that many American scholars invested in science from the 1860s to the 1950s. His latest book, Science Under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America (Harvard UP, 2020), reveals a persistent current of criticism which maintains that scientists have injected faulty social philosophies into the nation’s bloodstream under the cover of neutrality. He shows that this suspicion of science has been a major force in American politics and culture by tracking its development, varied expressions, and potent consequences since the 1920s. Jewett is currently beginning a multifaceted program of research that will shed new light on the interactions of scientific authority with racialization dynamics by exploring the mobilization of science for antiracist purposes. This project will result in two books, a case study of The Discovery of Environmental Justice and a broader analysis of Antiracism and Science in the United States.

Jewett has taught at several leading universities, including a decade at Harvard and three years at Boston College as well as shorter positions at Yale, NYU and Vanderbilt. He has also held fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the Cornell Society for the Humanities, the National Academy of Education, and the American Academy for the Arts & Sciences.

This talk is hosted by Beyond Secularization: New Approaches to Religion, Science and Technology in Public Life, a CSRC project funded by Templeton Religion Trust.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021 • 1:00pm MST
Online, via Zoom (Link provided with registration)