What is (Human) Life? Collegium Institute's 2nd Annual Magi Conference on Science and Religion

July 13, 2023 - July 14, 2023
Magi Project, Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture

University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia 19104
United States

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Yale Divinity School

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Collegium Institute's second interdisciplinary Magi Conference explores our own humanity through the lenses of "Mind, Body, Soul and Self." Structured around a series of conversations, scientists, philosophers and theologians will bring their expertise to help us understand the human and consider how the insights of each of these disciplines might contribute to work in the others. Jennifer Herdt (Yale) will give the keynote address. Jennifer Herdt is the Gilbert L. Stark Professor of Christian Ethics at Yale University's Divinity School. She has published widely on virtue ethics, modern moral thought, and political theology, and has authored several books, including Assuming Responsibility: Ecstatic Eudaimonism and the Call to Live Well. 

Invited Panel Sessions include:

  • Embodiment

Speakers: Alan Jasanoff and Janice Chik, discussing human embodiment, and what current research on the embodied nature of humanity adds to our understanding of mind and selfhood.

Alan Jasanoff is Professor of Biological Engineering, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, and Nuclear Science & Engineering at MIT. His research is in biomedical imaging, biomaterials, biomolecular engineering, biophysics, macromolecular biochemistry, neurobiology, and synthetic biology.  His laboratory is currently developing a new generation of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods to study the neural mechanisms of behavior. 

Janice Chik an associate professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University. Her research spans the philosophy of action and mind, metaphysics, philosophy of science, and civil liberties. In addition to being a philosopher, Dr. Chik also holds degrees in domestic and international public policy and musical performance. 

  • Self

Speakers: Tom Csordas and Todd Whitmore, discussing our understanding of self or selfhood, both what might be universal and what's particular to a given context, bringing together insights from the social sciences and theology think about how they might challenge and shape each other.

Tom Csordas is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology, the Dr. James Y. Chan Presidential Chair in Global Health, Founding Director of the Global Health Program, and Director of the Global Health Institute at the University of California, San Diego. His main research interests include medical and psychological anthropology, global mental health, anthropological theory, comparative religion, cultural phenomenology and embodiment, globalization and social change, and language and culture.

Todd Whitmore is Associate Professor of Theology at University of Notre Dame, and concurrently appointed as Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department. His research focuses on theology and ethnography, social theory, and the Opioid Crisis. Dr. Whitmore approaches theology questions through ethnography and anthropology, thus inverting the traditional “theological anthropology.” He currently serves as a Certified Addiction Peer Recovery Coach for persons with methamphetamine and opioid addictions in northern Indiana.

  • Environment/Evolution

Speakers: Angela Carpenter and Marc Kissel, discussing our understanding of humanity within our evolutionary and ecological context, looking at what evolutionary anthropology adds to our understanding of the human (soul, body, mind and/or self) and how it might reshape or challenge some of those categories. 

Angela Carpenter is a professor of Religion at Hope College. Dr. Carpenter's research focuses on moral formation, theology and the human sciences, and grace and ethics. She is the winner of the Dallas Willard Book Award and the author of Responsive Becoming: Moral Formation in Theological, Evolutionary and Developmental Perspective (T&T Clark, 2019) and of a forthcoming book on grace and social ethics (Baker Academic Press). 

Mark Kissel is a professor of Anthropology at Appalachian State University. His research interests include the evolution of modern humans and the processes by which hominins became human, the evolutionary arc of human warfare, Neandertal behavior, quantitative genetics, computer modeling, semiotics, and paleoanthropological theory. 

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June 30, 2023, 9:00am EST

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