Earth and biological sciences professor participates in the Oxford Round Table
Leonard Brand, PhD, professor of biology and paleontology, department of earth and biological sciences, SST
Receiving an invitation to the Oxford Round Table is quite an achievement, and Leonard Brand, PhD, professor of biology and paleontology, department of earth and biological sciences, School of Science and Technology, is one of the select few who has acquired such an honorable invitation.
In late July, Dr. Brand met for five days at Exeter College in Oxford, England. The topic, “Science and Faith: The Great Matter,” was discussed by 42 invited scholars.
“The discussions were lively, and there was a respectful attitude among the participants,” he says.
Dr. Brand presented a paper titled “We Make Progress When We Talk to Each Other.” The paper stressed the benefits of persons with different views on the relationship between science and faith getting to know each other, and discussing the issues with respect for each other rather than condescension.
“When this doesn’t happen, and when extremists on either side of this issue dominate the discussion, problems follow,” explains Dr. Brand. “Examples of the extremists would be those who stridently advocate an atheistic science, and those on the other extreme who are negative towar
Founded in 1314, Exeter College of Oxford University in England is where Dr. Brand participated in the Oxford Round Table.
d whatever science has to say about any aspect of evolutionary biology.”
The paper also discussed the difficulties in public understanding of science that result when science is portrayed as having absolute answers on issues that are really just a philosophical choice, like whether the original life forms were created or resulted from naturalistic processes.
According to Dr. Brand, “The task of both religion and science is always to persuade, not to try to control public thinking by force of law.”
The purpose of the Oxford Round Table is to promote human advancement and understanding through the improvement of education. Therefore, it provides a forum for the study and consideration of current issues facing state and national systems of education. The Round Table meets periodically, and each session is composed of a small select group of leaders from both the public and private sectors of several countries.
Invitations are sent to selected persons throughout different nations. These individuals are identified through several screening processes: by nomination of previous participants in the Round Table; from recommendations to the Round Table directors who, also, are actively involved in higher education and public school leadership; from recognized presentations and awards of state and national organizations; and, by invitations to an individual in a successful university or school district.
The foundation of the success of the Round Table is the assurance that this learning community will be composed of outstanding educational leaders. Past membership has included ministers of education, state governors from the United States, members of parliament, executive officers of international corporations, educational administrators, pastors, attorneys, and academicians from major universities.
“The environment among colleges dating back as much as 700 years or more was inspiring,” shares Dr. Brand.
By Patricia Thio