I am currently a Lecturer in Intellectual and Cultural History at Birkbeck – University of London. I earned a PhD in the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science at the University of Chicago in 2007, and I’ve previously held academic appointments at the University of British Columbia and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For several years, I have also taught a course on the history of science and religion for the Columbia High School Summer Program.
I’ve started this website as a venue to discuss current events, historical episodes, and ongoing issues at the intersections between science, religion, and education. I’m a historian, and my research looks at different aspects of these themes from the nineteenth century to the present day.
As someone who studies the development of ideas and the ways that different groups of people communicate, interpret and believe (or disbelieve) them, my intention is generally not to advocate for specific theological, scientific, or political ideas. I’m more interested in critiquing the way people discuss these ideas, particularly the way that they cite historical examples, to support their cause. I’m much more likely to criticize a position for being historically or philosophically ignorant, than I am to object to it because it conflicts with my personal beliefs. As I often describe it when I teach, I’m wary of being right for the wrong reasons—and of people who are more concerned with appearing to be right than in having sound reasons.
The name for this website is taken from my book Trying Biology (University of Chicago Press, 2013). While that book focuses on the development of high school science curricula and the regulation of textbooks around the time of the 1925 Scopes trial, issues concerning the intersection of science, religion, and education have certainly not disappeared over the past 80+ years!
Please feel free to read, comment, object, agree, share, and/or contribute to the discussion! And thanks!