Sacred Heart University professors Joseph Audie and June-Ann Greeley have been selected among an applicant pool of 28 highly qualified teams for the Lilly Faculty Fellows Program. The new grant and fellowship program will encourage “mid-career faculty leaders across the disciplines to provide a space for creative exploration of how Christian thought and practice intersect the academic vocation,” according to the Lilly Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities.
The Sacred Heart representatives were one of eight teams to be chosen. The faculty leaders will receive stipends and grants to institute a Lilly Faculty Fellows Program on their campuses.
Greeley, an associate professor of theology and religious studies, is familiar to the Lilly organization. She has participated in programs and projects sponsored by Lilly for years, but she was drawn to this particular program because of its intent, “especially because the call specified that one of the two faculty must be from the sciences or professional disciplines,” she explains. “The concept of working on a project that highlights collaboration, interdisciplinarity and the development of authentic conversations across the campus about meaningful questions, and the primary focus on teaching as a vocation–all that was quite appealing to me.”
Excited by the opportunity, Greeley reached out to Sacred Heart’s Lilly representative, Michelle Loris, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of Catholic studies. Greeley suggested a collaboration with colleague Audie, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “I know Joe, consider him an exceptional colleague, and had an idea that he would be an excellent partner in this grant. He is a scientist who values matters of faith, as I am a scholar and person of faith who values the contributions and challenges of science,” she says.
Audie appreciated and recognized the opportunity, so he agreed to join the team. “I am honored and happy to have the opportunity to participate in this project and am looking forward to working with June-Ann, Lilly and my colleagues to implement the fellowship program at SHU,” he says. “I have a long-standing interest in developing a more comprehensive, coherent and accurate understanding of the relation between faith and reason in general, and modern science and Christianity in particular.”
The chemistry professor says he has a vision to “bring the conversation among science, technology, engineering, math and Christianity to SHU and foster constructive dialogue among participants aimed at developing a better and deeper understanding of this vitally important subject.” He believes this conversation is relevant and crucial today as the community of faith considers questions in scientific advances such as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and robotics.
During the two-year program, the fellows will attend four conferences in Indianapolis and Chicago. Audie and Greeley will also provide several opportunities for the SHU community to participate in conversations, presentations, workshops and reading groups on “religion and science” and “faith and reason.” This aligns with the fellowship project’s focus on the STEM, social, scientific and professional fields. In addition, they will organize and lead a three-day workshop for two cohorts of six SHU faculty, one cohort per summer. Each cohort will include six SHU faculty representatives, one from each of the six University colleges.
The faculty workshops will comprise presentations and both small and large groups. The agenda will include discussions on readings curated by Audie and Greeley, community-building and personal, reflective writing. Expert guest speakers, scholars and colleagues will present seminars as well. The workshops will culminate in the faculty creating panel presentations for the SHU Colloquium Series, which members across the University community will attend. The panels will address “themes related to teaching as vocation, the intersections of religion and science and how such intersections create more fruitful spaces for intellectual inquiry,” according to Greeley. In addition, faculty will have the opportunity to prepare papers to be published as a collection based on material from the workshops.
The newly-appointed Lilly Faculty Fellows are passionate in their position that faith and reason can and should coexist. “One of the great triumphs the Catholic intellectual tradition is showing, despite apparent conflicts, is that there is a harmony between faith and reason,” Audie notes, “and that a key role of the Catholic and Christian scholar is to humbly and honestly seek to harmonize the claims of faith and reason in a manner appropriate to the particulars of time and place, as he or she pursues ultimate truth.”
Greeley says she personally relishes the possibility of addressing their work as something more than a simple procedure. “I particularly like the idea of moving away from the binary thinking that has so long hobbled the academy by engaging such questions and topics in dialogue with the ‘other end’ of the disciplinary spectrum from my own, namely the sciences.”
Faculty who wish to participate in the program should submit letters of intent to their respective deans. Loris, Audie and Greeley will review the applicants and select participants.
For more information, visit www.lillyfellows.org.