In 2007, Saint Mary’s College, an all-women’s college located in Notre Dame, Indiana, received a grant of $95,905 from the John Templeton Foundation in support of a project entitled The Quest Project: Women Exploring the Science/Religion Interface. The grant was administered through the Center for Spirituality, an interdisciplinary unit of the College.
In the spirit of the Catholic tradition, which calls for the integration of human reason and faith, Saint Mary’s College established a framework for facilitating meaningful dialogue among undergraduate women about the interface between science and religion. Such a dialogue was mentored by dedicated faculty members who were also eager to address the subject. The primary goal was to provide young women with a forum for asking and exploring the big questions facing today’s scientists and theologians. A secondary goal included encouraging undergraduate women to make substantive contributions to the ongoing science/religion dialogue, thereby adding additional female voices and perspectives to such discussions and debates.
For over two-years, students, faculty, staff, and administrators at Saint Mary’s College designed and implemented a wide range of activities, from student/faculty research opportunities to campus discussions, workshops, lectures, and opportunities for theological reflection. A highlight of the Quest Project was an interdisciplinary, regional conference in April 2009. This conference was planned and implemented by Saint Mary’s students, who, along with undergraduate women from other colleges/universities, presented papers and responded to major speakers. The college celebrated the successful conclusion of the funded phase of the Quest Project by hosting a symposium on science and health in September 2009.
Having been launched so effectively, the Quest Project now continues, on a smaller scale, as a permanent program in the college's Center for Spirituality. Other institutions, who likewise are committed to advancing the science/religion dialogue, are invited to partner with Saint Mary's College in creative ways.
The Quest Project web site is maintained and has an on-line academic journal entitled The Quest Project: An On-line Journal of Religion and Science.
The John Templeton Foundation was established in 1987, and funds scientific research and cutting-edge scholarship on more than 30 core themes. The Foundation’s mission is to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life’s biggest questions, ranging from explorations into the laws of nature and the universe to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness and creativity.