2016 CONFERENCE STATEMENT
How Can We Know? Co-creating Knowledge in Perilous Times
June 25 - July 2, 2016, Star Island, NH
Co-organizers: Pat Bennett, Ruben Nelson, & John Teske
What does knowing and living reliably, inclusively, sustainably and humanely now require of us – as persons, communities, institutions and whole societies?
How do we know that these are perilous times? How do we know what is to be done? Does knowing evolve from imagining? How do religious, scientific and secular traditions differ? What are the biological foundations of morality? What might “know yourself” really mean? What have we been missing in the science/ religion dialogue?
These are not abstract questions. Our fate – global, societal and personal – hangs on them. The reason, of course, is that what we commit to doing and becoming is largely a function of what we think we actually know.
Given the destructive culture wars of our time – ecological, economic, societal, political and personal – we simply cannot afford to agree to disagree on what is to be taken as reliably known. Rather, we need dialogues that foster personal and shared learning; we must explore afresh the nature and demands of reliable knowing.
Tensions between the ways of knowing that underlie the sciences and those of other historical, cultural and religious perspectives often inhibit working together for human and planetary well-being. Pointing to the rapid progress and obvious power of the natural sciences, many assume that only the scientific method fosters reliable ways of knowing. Many scientists, as well as others who emphasize the ambiguities of history and the co-creative power of persons and communities, disclaim such a contention and emphasize the need for a thorough-going self-critical awareness.
How Can We Know? Co-creating Knowledge in Perilous Times – the 2016 IRAS Summer Conference – has been designed to explore the above focal question in light of the emerging conditions of the early 21st Century.
The narrative arc of the week and the daily rhythms of the conference are being designed to enable participants to test and expand their own understandings of what it is to know more reliably and live more coherently. We will create an open and respectful atmosphere conducive to dialogue and shared learning among persons with diverse backgrounds.
Each of the main plenary sessions will be centered around a dialogue: first between two invited speakers and then among all participants. The conference will also include a few selected papers, several workshops and small collaborative groups which use a variety of creative formats.
This is an exceptional opportunity to get away from daily routines long enough to engage in deep and transformative learning; to participate in respectful dialogue informed by scientific, religious, spiritual and philosophical insights. All of this is on Star Island: a place that is physically beautiful, child and family friendly, and committed to sustainability. A children’s program will be available, and babysitting can be arranged.
It is our experience that virtually all participants in an IRAS Summer Conference leave Star Island enriched. We find that we are fed by the presentations, dialogues, workshops, services and free time in ways that will enrich our life and work back home.
The Narrative Arc of the Week: We will begin by looking at the complexity of the knowledge required to guide us to an ecologically humane and sustainable planetary civilization. In this light, we will explore and seek to move beyond the limitations of our present scientific, religious and secular traditions as we seek to meet the challenges of truly inclusive knowing and living.
Call for Papers: Paper proposals of no more than 250 words, or poster proposals of no more than 100 words, should be sent by email to Ruben Nelson by February 29, 2016: firstname.lastname@example.org We will have full and partial scholarships for the top papers. Download Call for Papers .pdf
Confirmed Speakers: Chapel Speaker: Pat Bennett (Program Development Worker, Iona Community). Plenary Speakers: Warren Brown (Director, Lee Edward Travis Research Institute), Phillip Cary (Professor of Philosophy, Eastern University), Chris Corbally (Jesuit Astronomer, Vatican Observatory Research Group), Wentzel van Huyssteen (Former Professor of Theology and Science, Princeton Theological Seminary), Jonathan Marks (Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina), Margaret Boone Rappaport (Co-Founder, the Human Sentience Project), Louise Sundararajan (Founder and Chair, Task Force on Indigenous Psychology, Society for Humanistic Psychology) and John A. Teske (Professor of Psychology, Elizabethtown College).
Download Conference Statement
REGISTER FOR IRAS CONFERENCE
30% discounts on registration fees are available for members of IRAS, our Partners and Sponsors. 30% discounts for room and board are outlined on the Star Island website.
FORMAT, ACTIVITIES, AND CALL FOR PARTICIPATION
ADULT PROGRAM: Each morning the conference will feature daily plenary dialogues followed by small discussion groups. Selected papers and workshops, interest groups, ad hoc meetings, informal activities and a social hour ﬁll the afternoon. Each evening will feature novel and collaborative ways to engage one another. We explore/express what we are feeling, thinking and learning and carry our thinking forward in a collaborative-constructive way. See Annual Summer Conference.
YOUTH PROGRAM: Children and youth will meet in their age groups each morning from during IRAS theme talks. Activities include island exploration/ beach time, marine lab and island musician visits, art, ﬁeld games, and conference-themed, age-appropriate activities. The afternoon Serendipity Program offers art projects on the porch and lawn games on the front lawn every day except Wednesday, when we’ll hold our annual Intergenerational Olympics. Evening activities include a bonﬁre, theater games, singalong and storytelling evening, art, games, and Candy Bingo.
All conference attendees will be invited to propose workshops on the themes of the conference, as well as workshops that examine the future roles of IRAS in relation to its founding ideas and the wider context of science, religions, and society in which we now live. See Call for Papers.
Copyright 2014 by The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science