Public Release: 

4th annual Templeton-Cambridge fellowships awarded to 10 noted journalists

John Templeton Foundation

NEW YORK, February 28 - Ten prominent journalists from the United States and the United Kingdom have been selected for the fourth annual Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowships in Science & Religion. Widely praised since their launch in 2004, the fellowships include a program of research and scholarship at the University of Cambridge in England. The 2008 fellows were announced today by the New York office of the Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships, which are funded by the John Templeton Foundation of West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

In the fellowship program, a diverse group of eminent journalists examine key areas in the broad field of science and religion through independent research as well as seminars and discussion groups, led by some of the world's foremost physicists, cosmologists, and theologians, at the University of Cambridge. Fellows are provided a $15,000 stipend, a book allowance, and travel expenses.

"The fellowships provide some of the top journalists worldwide with an opportunity to engage in a rigorous and wide-ranging examination of the field of science and religion," says Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships Co-director Fraser Watts, Reader in Theology and Science, University of Cambridge. "With the deeper understanding that they gain through the fellowship program, these journalists will be better able to promote a more informed public discussion of science and religion."

The 2008 fellows represent a broad sweep from the field of journalism, a reflection, the program's organizers say, of the extent of the current interest in science and religion. Included are journalists, editors, and correspondents from the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Discover, New Republic, Slate.com, and three freelance writers.

The Templeton-Cambridge Journalism fellows named today are:

  • Sandi Dolbee, Religion and Ethics Editor, San Diego Union-Tribune
  • Tim Folger, Contributing Editor, Discover
  • Marc Kaufman, National Desk Reporter, Washington Post
  • Michael McGough, Senior Editorial Writer, Los Angeles Times
  • Jeffery Paine, Freelance Writer
  • Mark Pinsky, Religion Writer, Orlando Sentinel
  • Mark Vernon, Freelance Writer
  • Christine Whelan, Freelance Writer
  • Emily Yoffe, Columnist, Slate.com
  • Jason Zengerle, Senior Editor, New Republic

The relationship of science and religion is a subject of increasing scrutiny today. After decades during which leading voices from science and religion viewed each other with suspicion and little sense of how the two areas might relate, recent years have brought an active pursuit of understanding how science may deepen theological awareness, for example, or how religious traditions might illuminate the scientific realm. Fellowship organizers note that rigorous journalistic examination of the region where science and theology overlap - as well as understanding the reasoning of many who assert the two disciplines are without common ground -can effectively promote a deeper understanding of this emerging dialogue.

That discussion will be furthered, organizers say, by encouraging journalists to write articles and produce news segments that advance public awareness of this complex and rapidly evolving field of inquiry. The extraordinary intellectual and cultural setting at Cambridge, they add, will provide fellows with an opportunity to meet with colleagues for critical discussion and have access to prominent experts in the field.

"The story of science and religion, with its deep roots in the past, has grown into one of the most complex, challenging, and important stories of our time," says

Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships Co-director Sir Brian Heap, Research Associate, University of Cambridge. "This program aims to support the outstanding journalists selected for the fellowships in covering this story with the depth, rigor, and thoroughness that it requires and deserves."

The two-month program, running in June and July, begins with an initial week of preparatory study, followed by two weeks of intensive science and religion seminars at Queens' College at the University of Cambridge, May 31-June 13, conducted by renowned scholars, scientists, theologians, and intellectuals who will offer an overview of key issues.

Speakers at the Cambridge seminars include:

  • John D. Barrow, FRS, Professor of Mathematical Sciences and Director, Millennium Mathematics Project, University of Cambridge

  • Gillian Beer, DBE, Professor of English Literature, University of Cambridge

  • Alasdair Coles, Lecturer in Neuroimmunology, University of Cambridge

  • Noah Efron, Chair, Graduate Program in Science, Technology & Society, Bar Ilan University, Israel

  • John Gray, Author, Heresies: Against Progress and Other Illusions

  • John Houghton, FRS, Co-Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I

  • Alister McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology, University of Oxford

  • Simon Conway Morris FRS, Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology, University of Cambridge

  • Baroness Neuberger DBE, Liberal Democrat Peer, House of Lords, and President, Liberal Judaism

  • Ken Pargament, Professor of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, US

  • Jamil Ragep, Canada Research Chair in the History of Science in Islamic Societies, Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, Canada

  • Tariq Ramadan, Visiting Professor, St. Anthony's College, University of Oxford, and Senior Research Fellow, Lokahi Foundation, UK

  • Steven Rose, Emeritus Professor, Department of Life Sciences, The Open University, UK

  • Keith Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus, University of Oxford, and Professor of Divinity, Gresham College, UK

  • Fraser Watts, Reader in Theology and Science, University of Cambridge, UK

Following the seminars, fellows will undertake five weeks of independent study and research into areas of their own specific interest, such as origins of life, neuroscience, the laws of nature, cosmology, genetic engineering, astrobiology, and spirituality and health. They will also receive a detailed program of readings tailored to their individual interests, including the development of a personal library that will serve as an ongoing resource for future research and reporting. The program finishes with an oral, ultimately publishable presentation by each fellow, to be given at a concluding seminar in Cambridge, July 27-August 1.

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The Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowships are administered from offices in New York and Cambridge. More information can be found at www.templeton-cambridge.org.

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