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College of Arts and Sciences

Catholic Studies Courses Featured at ITEST Webinar  

Joseph R. Laracy next to telescope The Seton Hall University Catholic Studies Program will take center stage at a July 23 webinar sponsored by the Institute for Theological Encounter with Science and Technology (ITEST). The webinar will showcase Seton Hall courses, two of which are Catholic Studies courses.

ITEST was founded in 1968 “to study the advances in science and technology and their meaning for the Christian understanding of the human being and of creation.” As “an association of theologians, scientists and others committed to a Catholic world view in which faith and science collaborate in exploring the truth,” ITEST produces and disseminates scholarship and practical advice for opening up the truth of the complementarity between faith and science. The upcoming webinar featuring three Seton Hall faculty members will explore the question of whether holistic STEM education helps to form better Catholics.

The Seton Hall Core 3 courses, taken by all undergraduate students, focus on the theme of Engaging the World. These courses, many of which are Catholic Studies courses, build on the first two Core courses and invite students to consider important questions from many differing academic perspectives. At the ITEST webinar, Seton Hall faculty will elaborate on challenges in developing such courses in STEM disciplines, and then focus on three particular courses: Logic, the Limits to Knowledge, and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition; Science and Theology of Food; and Creation and Science.

At the webinar, Thomas Marlowe, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Computer Science, will address the development of Logic, the Limits of Knowledge, and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. He will explain how offering a course such as this in a STEM discipline presents special objectives, constraints, and possibilities. He will share some specifics relating to the creation and content of the Engaging the World course, as well as successes he has enjoyed in teaching it.

Following Dr. Marlowe’s talk, Reverend Gerald Buonopane, Ph.D., Minister to the Priest Community, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Rev. Joseph R. Laracy, S.T.D., Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, will speak about their experiences in developing and teaching Signature 3 Catholic Studies courses that highlight the complementarity between faith and science.

Fr. Buonopane’s area of specialization is food chemistry. Prior to seminary and the priesthood, Fr. Buonopane held a number of positions in academia, the federal government (USFDA), and in the food and pharmaceutical industries. His research areas of interest are chemical deterioration of food lipids: oxidative reactions; essential oils as natural antioxidants; and cold plasma treatment of botanicals and essential oils.

Fr. Buonopane’s presentation at the webinar will address the origin and content of the Catholic Studies/Core 3 interdisciplinary course Science and Theology of Food. The course examines the integration and interaction of the scientific, ecological, theological, social, cultural, and ethical dimensions of food. In his public ministry Jesus embraced meal fellowship, what we can refer to as Eucharistic eating, being deeply rooted in the human sharing of food. The academic background of students enrolled in the course is diverse: Catholic Studies majors and minors, seminarians, natural and physical science majors, allied health majors, and students from the humanities and religious studies. Together, the students explore the following question: In a world in which there is enough food for everyone to eat, how can we better address every person’s right to sufficient food and nutrition?

Fr. Laracy, in addition to holding his position at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, is an affiliated faculty member with the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science as well as the Catholic Studies Program. He is the author of Theology and Science in the Thought of Ian Barbour: A Thomistic Evaluation for the Catholic Doctrine of Creation (Peter Lang, 2021) and the co-editor of Stanley Jaki Foundation International Congress (Gracewing, 2020). His scholarly articles have appeared in prestigious theological and scientific journals.

The Catholic Studies/Core 3 course Creation and Science will be the focus of Fr. Laracy’s talk at the webinar. Cross-listed with the Seminary School of Theology, the course seeks to deepen students’ understanding of the relationship between the Catholic theology of creation and contemporary empirical science. The course begins by examining the substantial contributions of Pierre Duhem and Fr. Stanley Jaki, OSB, to history of science in medieval Christendom. The course addresses the birth of science, the historical-philosophical environment of this birth, the interventions of recent popes on the issue, the importance of metaphysical realism in the theology-science interaction, the Catholic doctrine of creation, the theory of the Big Bang, the theory of evolution, and the role of contemporary mathematics in the natural sciences.

The ITEST webinar, Signature Courses at Seton Hall: STEM Engages the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, will take place on Saturday, July 23, 2022, at 10 a.m. EDT. Registration is required.

Categories: Faith and Service, Science and Technology