Binns Selected for National Fellowship on Science and Religion

Date Published: 
Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cato College of Education professor Ian Binns has been selected for a national fellowship made up of an interfaith group of clergy, scientists and writers who are committed to elevating the discourse surrounding religion and science.

“The Sinai and Synapses Fellowship showcases inspiring people who believe we need wisdom from both science and religion in our world,” said Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman, Founding Director. “Indeed, today’s society promotes a false belief in a fixed ‘either/or’ sense of identity. These attacks and counter-attacks prevent real conversations from happening, keep people from working together to solve problems, and deepen the polarization and mistrust in our society today. These Fellows are exemplars of people who embrace a ‘both/and’ mentality, and will help elevate the public discourse.”

The fellowship is a two-year commitment, and involves three annual meetings to learn from experts and build relationships. The fellows will then create content, run programs and deliver presentations inspired by the work of Sinai and Synapses. In May 2019, the fellows will join previous alumni for a one-day meeting for opportunities for more cross-pollination.

“The more people who can be role models for a productive conversation, the better our public conversation can be,” said Mitelman. “And we have seen that more and more people are looking for enlightening and thoughtful ideas.”

Dr. Binns is an associate professor of Elementary Science Education in the Department of Reading and Elementary Education. His research and community work focus primarily on the interaction between science and religion. Binns’ goal is to help people understand science and religion, what makes them unique, their interaction and how they both benefit society. Specifically, his research looks at how preservice elementary teachers’ scientific literacy and faith-based beliefs influence their perceptions of how socio-scientific issues, such as evolution, creationism and intelligent design, should be addressed in the classroom.

"I anticipate this opportunity will greatly enhance my knowledge of science and religion, will help me develop better programs on science and religion, and will influence my research for many years," Binns said.

Ultimately, Sinai and Synapses hopes to change the conversation surrounding religion and science by harnessing the power of relationships.

“If we want to lessen the power of extremists on both sides of the science and religion discussion, we need to equip people with new tools and new language. By bringing eighteen smart, curious and kind people into a room to learn and grow together, we can begin to break down misconceptions, and then build unexpected connections that will impact thousands of people,” the group said in a statement.

The Sinai and Synapses fellowship is sponsored and incubated at Clal – The National Center for Learning and Leadership. It is supported by grant funding secured with the assistance of The Issachar Fund. See the complete list of 2017-2019 Fellows here.

Dr. Ian Binns has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a M.Ed., both from North Carolina State University. His Ph.D. is in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Science Education from the University of Virginia.