Life Sciences and Religion Community Forum of Central Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University
This society provides a public forum for citizens to dialogue openly, critically and creatively about issues in science and religion. Bringing together individuals with diverse religious and scientific perspectives, the Community Forum promotes cooperative learning, mutual understanding, and the development of informed positions on such things as stem cell research, cloning, assisted reproduction, genetic engineering, the understanding of human nature, health and illness, death and dying, and the human relationship with nature. The core planning advisory committee of 23 members from within and outside of VCU hail from disciplines in medicine, religious studies, psychiatry, life sciences, bioethics, humanities, pastoral care, ethics, psychology, and geriatrics, as well as clergy representing multiple faith and interfaith perspectives. In addition to meetings for in depth topical discussion and planning, the Forum will host a series of public lecture-discussion events. Each presentation introduces and explores the topics in science and religion deemed as most accessible and socially relevant to Central Virginia citizens. Plans are in place for a comprehensive evaluation plan to assess response to and effectiveness of program activities. By taking note of website hits, local media attention to events and topics introduced, degree of participation, funds and donations gathered, and qualitative measures of audience satisfaction, the group is able to adjust programs to audience trends, as needed. The Forum reaches out to established organizations for partnering and supplemental funding to ensure growth and vibrancy well beyond the three-year grant term. Matching funds are provided by Virginia Commonwealth University.