Conference: Religion and Innovation

April 12, 2019, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, S. C. Johnson Conference Center, 1st Floor, West Wing, Washington, DC, USA

Join noted scholars for a one day conference exploring the history and intersections of religion and innovation.

Technological breakthroughs have always been deeply intertwined with religious thought and practice. Spiritual leaders have transformed American beliefs by harnessing new technologies, from electric power and the telegraph to television and computers, in order to spread traditional teachings and inspire new religious movements. In turn, many inventors have pointed to religious inspirations for their technological leaps. This pattern continues as innovations in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to gene editing reinvigorate longstanding disputes and raise new ethical concerns.

10:30 a.m.   Opening remarks
Peter Manseau, Curator of American Religious History, NMAH

11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.   Networks: Intersections of information, communication, and religion
Jenna Supp Montgomerie, University of Iowa
Lerone Martin, Washington University in St. Louis
Christopher Helland, Dalhousie University
Moderator: Peter Manseau, NMAH

Lunch provided (registration required)

1:15–2:15 p.m.   Machines: Connections between technology and religious practice
Steven Jones, University of South Florida
Leor Halevi, Vanderbilt University
Noreen Herzfeld, College of Saint Benedict / Saint John’s University
Moderator: Eric S. Hintz, Lemelson Center/NMAH

2:30–3:30 p.m.   Bodies: Medical innovation and religious interpretations of the human body
Sarah Imhoff, Indiana University
Hillary Kaell, Concordia University
Samira Mehta, Albright College
John Modern, Franklin and Marshall College
Moderator: Alexandra Lord, NMAH

3:30 p.m.   Concluding discussion
Arthur Daemmrich, Lemelson Center/NMAH

Free and open to the public. Lunch will be served to registered participants.

Register online here.

Hosted by the National Museum of American History’s Religion in America Initiative and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. and the John Templeton Foundation.

Posted: March 21, 2019