Research outputs: 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.

Details of our recent research projects and some of our publications can be found below. 

Projects

Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum Global Perspectives

Funded by the Templeton Religion Trust

There is a significant gap in research into international publics’ perceptions of evolution and religion. The social study of the relationship between science and religion is an emergent and growing field of research, but to date research has tended to focus predominantly on Anglophone contexts, on scientists' beliefs and perspectives, or on the beliefs of distinct ‘creationist’ religious groups and those who oppose them. This large-scale three year project, which follows on from previous research carried out by team members in the UK and Canada, seeks to expand the Research Group’s innovative multidisciplinary approach across 6 countries to help address the gap in international research. The project will run from 2019 to March 2022 and will involve conducting ethnographic, historical, experimental, interview and survey research working with partners in Argentina, Australia, Germany, Spain, Sri Lanka and the USA.

International Research Network for the Social Study of Science and Religion

Funded by the Templeton Religion Trust

The International Research Network for the Social Study of Science and Religion planning project grant has enabled the creation of a multidisciplinary research network for scholars based anywhere in the world whose research investigates the relationship between science and religion (including non-religion) in society. The network, The International Research Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society was officially launched via an inaugural annual conference here at the University of Birmingham from 4-6 July, 2019. Membership of the research network already consists of scholars from every continent and from disciplinary backgrounds including: history, psychology, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, science and technology studies and media studies.

Science and the Transmission of Islamic Knowledge in Britain

Funded by the Templeton Religion Trust and the Ischaar Fund

There is a dearth of sociological research into Muslims’ perceptions of science, with Islamic authorities and sites of Islamic knowledge production being especially badly neglected. This project investigates how the relationship between Islam and science is understood and discussed by those involved in the transmission of Islamic knowledge and the establishment of Islamic authority in Britain. The project is the result of a collaboration between Stephen H. Jones (Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society Research Group, University of Birmingham) and Riyaz Timol (Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK, Cardiff University). It examines: if, and how, scientific concepts are used by Muslim leaders to legitimise their arguments; if Islamic education centres and religious leaders oppose any scientific theories, and if so what movements influence them; and how Muslim leaders’ answers to questions about science and Islam are affected by UK policy context and Muslims’ position within British society. The research runs from 2020 to 2023 as is funded by the TRT and the Ischaar Fund as part of a major sub-granting scheme based at Rice University, Texas.

New Perspectives on Evolutionary Science and Belief in Society

Funded by the Templeton World Charities Foundation

This project draws on the findings of the TRT-funded Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum (SRES) research project to engage audiences beyond academia in open-minded debate about the relationship between science and religion in society today. It involves developing our outreach work in order to engage with more diverse audiences, with a particular emphasis on creating educational content and activity aimed at teachers, educational professionals, community organizations and students in secondary and further education. This includes an exhibition drawing together recent scholarly research in an accessible format for non-academic audiences, accompanied by the comic and video. It also involves developing accredited educational activities, as part of the British Science Association’s STEM enrichment CREST award scheme, with a range of associated support materials as well as talks from team members at participating schools.

The Nature of Islamophobia in Contemporary Britain

Funded by a British Academy Small Grant

This research, funded by a British Academy Small Grant, involves developing and carrying out a survey examining public perceptions of Islam as a tradition and how these perceptions intersect with views of British Muslims as a population, as well as of other ethnic and religious minorities. It is designed to respond to, and intervene in, debates about definitions of Islamophobia, which have centred on questions about whether anti-Muslim prejudice can be conceptualised as a form of racism, and whether policy responses to Islamophobia pose a threat to freedom of expression. The survey focuses on how, if at all, prejudices against Islam inform hostility toward Muslims and contribute to support for laws designed to curtail Muslims’ rights. The research will deepen scholarly and public understanding of what Islamophobia is and inform activities designed to counter Islamophobia and consolidate a definition of the term that can be used by public bodies.

Evaluation of Christians in Science’s Project, ‘Equipping and Supporting the Next Generation of Christians in Science’ (CiS)

The Research Group was contracted by Christians in Science to carry out an evaluation of a large-scale project with the aim of helping develop the work of Christians in Science (CiS) amongst University students and early career scientists. Running between 2016 and 2019, the evaluation provided a range of quantitative and qualitative metrics designed to analyse membership over time and responses to outreach work.

Publications