About: Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society Research Group

The Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society Research Group is a multidisciplinary research team whose work spans a diverse range of subjects including history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and education.

We conduct and foster open-minded social scientific and humanities based research on: the public understanding and communication of the relationship between science and religion; research into the sociology and psychology of religion; and the role of science, knowledge and belief in diverse societies.

The research group is at the forefront of research both in the UK and internationally that looks in depth at the different roles that worldviews and religious or spiritual belief can play in our day-to-day lives. We explore the multi-layered social, cultural and psychological drivers to these contemporary and historical debates at the level of the individual, groups, communities and societal narratives.

Our work falls under three main thematic areas:

1. Belief in mind, culture and society

Religion and belief represents one of the key strands of research within the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society. We study religion from the perspective of both psychology and sociology, analysing how social, psychological and cognitive processes influence, and are influenced by, religious beliefs, values and cultural forms. Our interest is both theoretical and applied, with our research being relevant to social and political questions that range from education to discrimination and social cohesion. We have a particular interest in investigating how religious or spiritual beliefs and non-belief relate to, and influence, other sources of personal identity and ways of understanding the world.

2. Science and religion: exploring the spectrum

This strand of research seeks to build on our unique mix of scholarship that covers both the study of the role of belief and the role of science in society. By bringing together this expertise we are seeking to build a more in-depth understanding of the social and cultural contexts of public perceptions of the relationship between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ across all faiths and none.

Surprisingly, although the relationship between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ is often talked about in the media, by public intellectuals, and in public space, very little research has been done that explores what people actually think about their own or others’ views on the relationship between science and religion, or by extension rationality, reason, and faith. We will be exploring these issues both in the UK and in broader international contexts.

For further information about our current research in this strand please go to the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum project website.

3. Science across diverse societies

The science across diverse societies research strand, comprises a broad and diverse range of methodological approaches to studying science in, and as part of, its societal and cultural context. This includes, but is not limited to, work in the history and philosophy of science, science and technology studies, ethics, epistemology, anthropology and the medical humanities. Our work covers a range of issues relating to science, technology, and medicine – we are in particular interested in public perceptions of STEMM, processes of engagement with diverse publics, research communication and its social implications. 

Researchers based within the strand are interested in questions which explore, amongst other themes, belief in science, science in public life, science as a cultural identity and the role of science in the relationship between humans and nature.