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Religion, science, environment focus of Sewanee

[Episcopal News Service]  Working collaboratively during a three-year period, a series of programs that examine the concerns, connections and conflicts of religion, science and environmental issues are being developed by the University of the South's School of Theology, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Province of Sewanee Environmental Ministry of the Episcopal Church.

In 2004, Sewanee received a $15,000 grant from the Metanexus Institution on Religion and Science Local Societies Initiative (LSI), an organization dedicated to education, research and outreach on the constructive engagement of science and religion.

The University formed the group ENTREAT -- Enter Now The Reflection, Education, Action Treatise -- and became one of more than 200 LSI groups in 26 countries providing a method for examining the intersection of science, religion, and ethics from three perspectives: reflection, education and action.

"We looked at the University as a Christian institution and how it was managing its domain," said Dr. Francis Hart, professor of physics at Sewanee and co-chair of ENTREAT. "We found that in some areas they were performing admirably and some aspects needed improvement."

Robert Hughes, professor of Systematic Theology at Sewanee and steering committee member of ENTREAT, said additional grant money has been received from other sources and that next year's focus will be on "green architecture and construction, building issues," and using "sustainable materials." In its third year, the program will examine water quality.

"We received matching funds from the University," which has enabled ENTREAT to present workshops and send students to conferences to present papers on the group's findings, said Hart.

Recent and planned construction, such as parking lots and other building projects, have created a great deal of concern on the campus and in the local community.

With special funding from the John Templeton Foundation, Metanexus has provided support for LSIs that seek to encourage thoughtful and dynamic exploration of the interrelationship of science and religion, to promote greater appreciation of these issues and to enhance increased cooperation between science and religion.

Established in 1878, the School of Theology is a leader in Episcopal theological education and offers a full program to prepare men and women for ordained ministry.

To learn more about ENTREAT visit