Institutes & Initiatives

The Insight Project (Insight), is a multi-year program series that seeks to expose and explore modern conceptions of theology and spirituality. With a diverse array of thought-provoking lectures, screenings, performances, and on-stage conversations, Insight will provide immersive experiences that encourage personal discoveries and spark new ways of seeing the world.


At its core, Insight seeks to redefine our understanding of theology, not simply through the reformulation of doctrine but through a reframing of imagination. This conceptual turn requires that we give significant attention to social sciences, the humanities, and even the hard sciences.

The five-year initiative is made possible by a generous, anonymous gift from a Union alumna. The goal for Insight is to deepen discourse around the ‘big questions’ and to provide a space—particularly for students—to engage in dynamic, interdisciplinary conversations across curricular boundaries.

John J. Thatamanil, Associate Professor of Theology & World Religions at Union, directs The Insight Project, mapping out themes to be showcased in six public events each year. Beginning in year two, Insight will add a scholarly conference held at the end of each spring semester. Thatamanil is supported in this endeavor by other Union faculty. His year-one co-convener is Robert Wright, Visiting Professor of Science & Spirituality, and the theme is Theology & the Natural World.

Insight confronted the urgency of climate issues in its kick-off event on Wednesday, March 28 with acclaimed author, Amitav Ghosh, whose most recent work of non-fiction—The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable—explores the impact of global warming on the craft of narrative fiction. Ghosh discussed this timely work with Thatamanil, Akeel Bilgrami, and Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University.

On Tuesday, April 10, Columbia University Professor of Physics & Mathematics and World Science Festival Co-Founder, Brian Greene, joined Wright for a dialogue titled, The Weirdness of Physics. The two discussed the philosophical implications of modern physics, the possibilities of time travel, and whether there’s still room for free will and purpose in the universe that science is slowly revealing.

Insight kicked off the Fall semester of 2018 with an event on Tuesday, October 16 with John Haught, whose most recent work on science and religion – The New Cosmic Story: Inside Our Awakening Universe – explores the deeper questions science poses to faith, and those faith poses to science. Robert Wright, Visiting Professor of Science & Spirituality, joined Haught to discuss the intersections of science and faith in our modern times.