Professor Fern Elsdon-Baker

Professor Fern Elsdon-Baker

College of Arts and Law
Professor of Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society
Director Research Institute for STEMM in Culture and Society (ISTEMMiCS)

Contact details

Address
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Professor Elsdon-Baker is a transdisciplinary researcher whose work is predominantly sociological, historical, philosophical and psychological in approach. Her research interests are:

  • The perception of, and trust in, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) in diverse societies and across cultures
  • Public space and cultural narratives surrounding STEMM
  • National or international STEMM communication and public engagement
  • The role of 'science', non-religion and/or beliefs in relation to social identity, stereotypes and prejudice formation
  • International public perceptions of the relationship between science and belief 
  • Diversity in STEMM and Innovation

Qualifications

  • PhD in History and Philosophy of Evolutionary Science, University of Brighton (2007).
  • BSc (Hons) Environmental Science, University of Brighton (2002)

Biography

I am currently Professor of Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society at the University of Birmingham and I lead the Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society Research Group within the College of Arts and Law.

Before moving to the University of Birmingham, I was the Director of the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society at Newman University, one of the few research centres globally whose core focus was the study of science and belief across sociology, social psychology, religious studies, historical, philosophical and science studies perspectives. Prior to that I was deputy Director of the Centre for Social Relations at Coventry University.

I briefly left academia from 2008 – 2012 to work for the British Council on large-scale science and religion related projects. In the first instance I worked as Head of the Darwin Now Project. Darwin Now was a multi-million-pound global initiative running in 50 countries worldwide, which celebrated the life and work of Charles Darwin, as part of the international celebrations of the Darwin anniversaries in 2009. Subsequently, I went on to become Director of the British Councils Belief in Dialogue Programme – a multi-regional portfolio of inter-cultural and interfaith dialogue projects.

My earlier doctoral/postdoctoral research focused on theories of inheritance, science communication and its relationship to scientific knowledge production from the 1800s to present. In 2009 I published a book based on aspects of this research: Selfish Genius: How Richard Dawkins Rewrote Darwin’s Legacy.

 

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to supervise students on any aspects of the following areas:

STEMM in Culture or Society
Public Engagement with STEMM
International Science Communication/Public Engagement with STEMM
Public Perceptions of Science in Diverse Societies
Science, Religion and Belief in Society or Culture
History and Communication of Darwinism/Evolutionary Science
Intercultural or Cross-Cultural dialogue.


Find out more - our PhD Theology and Religion  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.

Research

I am transdisciplinary researcher whose work is predominantly sociological, historical, philosophical and psychological in approach. My research focuses on: the perception of, and engagement with, STEMM in diverse societies; National and international science communication: the role of 'science', non-religion and/or beliefs as identity markers, in public space 'conflict narratives', stereotypes or prejudice formation; and public perceptions of the relationship between science and belief. 

I am currently the Principal Investigator on the ‘Science and Religion Exploring the Spectrum: The Relationship between Evolutionary Science and Religious Belief in Global Perspective’ (SRES2), a £3.4 Million 3-year research project working with partners in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, Sri Lanka, the UK and the US.

I also the Principal Investigator on the International Research Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society project, a £2.2 million 3-year research project that aims to foster and support research that examines any social or cultural aspect of science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine (STEMM) in relation to any religious, spiritual or non-religious tradition, position or worldview, including unbelief.

 

Publications

Recent publications

Book

Elsdon-Baker, F & Lightman, B 2020, Identity in a Secular Age: Science, Religion, and public Perceptions . University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.

Article

Jones, S, Elsdon-Baker, F, Catto, R & Kaden, T 2020, 'What science means to me: understanding personal identification with (evolutionary) science using the sociology of (non)religion', Public Understanding of Science, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 579-596. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963662520923110

Catto, R, Jones, S, Kaden, T & Elsdon-Baker, F 2019, 'Diversification and internationalization in the sociological study of science and religion', Sociology Compass, vol. 13, no. 8, e12721, pp. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1111/soc4.12721

Elsdon-Baker, F 2019, 'In Defense of Publics: Projection, Bias, and Cultural Narratives in Science and Religion Debates', Zygon, vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 618-633. https://doi.org/10.1111/zygo.12548

Jones, S, Catto, R, Kaden, T & Elsdon-Baker, F 2019, '‘That’s how Muslims are required to view the world’: race, culture and belief in non-Muslims’ descriptions of Islam and science', The Sociological Review, vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 161-177. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026118778174

Kaden, T, Jones, S, Catto, R & Elsdon-Baker, F 2018, 'Knowledge as explanandum: disentangling lay and professional perspectives on science and religion', Studies in Religion-Sciences Religieuses, vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 500–521. https://doi.org/10.1177/0008429817741448

Elsdon-Baker, F 2016, 'Creating creationists: the influence of ‘issues framing’ on our understanding of public perceptions of clash narratives between evolutionary science and belief', Public Understanding of Science, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 422-439. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963662514563015

Elsdon-Baker, F 2015, 'Contested inheritance: debates on the role of 'inheritance of acquired characteristics' in late nineteenth century Darwinian and Weismannian thought', Textual Practice, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 547-571. https://doi.org/10.1080/0950236X.2015.1023654

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Carlisle, J, Hameed, S & Elsdon-Baker, F 2019, Muslim Perceptions of Biological Evolution: A Critical Review of Quantitative and Qualitative Research. in Science, Belief and Society: International Perspectives on Religion, Non-Religion and the Public Understanding of Science. Bristol University Press.

Elsdon-Baker, F & Mason-Wilkes, W 2019, The Sociological Study of Science and Religion in Context. in Science, Belief and Society: International Perspectives on Religion, Non-Religion and the Public Understanding of Science. Bristol University Press.

Chapter

Elsdon-Baker, F 2020, Creating hardline ‘secular’ evolutionists: The influence of question design on our understanding of public perceptions of clash narratives between evolutionary science and belief. in Identity in a Secular Age: Science, Religion and Public Perceptions . University of Pittsburgh.

Elsdon-Baker, F 2018, Re-examining 'creationist' monsters in the uncharted waters of social studies of science and religion. in Science and the politics of openness. Manchester University Press, pp. 259-277.

View all publications in research portal

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