Union Launches “The Insight Project” to Explore Topics in Contemporary Theology

Categories: Press Releases

Acclaimed novelist, Amitav Ghosh, investigates the impact of climate change on the literary imagination on March 28,  followed by Brian Greene discussing “The Weirdness of Physics” on April 10.

March 13, 2018

NEW YORK — Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (Union) announces the launch of The Insight Project (Insight), a new 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.

“We are so grateful for the generous grant that is making this series possible. This exciting new forum will foster dialogue on real world issues, a practice that Union sincerely values,” said Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union.

John J. Thatamanil, Associate Professor of Theology & World Religions at Union, will direct 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.

“It is difficult to imagine a more pressing concern for theology than the current climate crisis,” said Thatamanil. “Nor is there a topic on which there is a more pressing need for conversation between theology, the various sciences, as well as other disciplines.”

Added Wright, “Insight gives us the opportunity to connect ethos with ethics, and ethics to applicable practicality. How do beliefs about the environment affect our use of and engagement with the natural world?”

Insight confronts this urgent climate issue with the 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 will discuss this timely work with Thatamanil and Akeel Bilgrami, 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, will join Wright for a dialogue titled, The Weirdness of Physics. 

All Insight events are free and open to the public, but registration is required. To learn more or to RSVP, please click HERE.

The Insight Project: Theology & the Natural World programming will resume in September 2018.