Sinai and Synapses Fellowship

Sinai and Synapses Fellowship

Applications due Tuesday, June 25th, 2024 at 11:59 PM ET!

Do you want to learn from some of the top scientists, theologians and thinkers in the world?

Do you want to connect and network with a diverse and yet intimate group of scientists, clergy and writers who will both inspire you and challenge you?

Are you frustrated that the public discourse promotes an “either / or” mentality when we need a “both / and” mindset?

Do you want to explore some of the most interesting, important and challenging topics facing our world today, and explore where both religion and science can bring wisdom to the conversation?

Then apply for the Sinai and Synapses Fellowship!

What is it?

The Sinai and Synapses Fellowship is a select interfaith group of clergy, scientists and writers who are committed to elevating the discourse surrounding religion and science. It is supported by a grant from Templeton Religion Trust, as well as generous individual donors.

The Fellows aim to personalize the relationship between religion and science, and are models for a productive conversation surrounding these two topics. They are dedicated to exploring their own stories, their own commitments and their own doubts — and learning about and from other people’s journeys, as well. Indeed, our previous Fellows have ranged from Episcopal priests to science bloggers, museum educators to chaplains, psychology doctoral students to rabbis, UCC ministers to geneticists, and beyond.

The Fellowship is designed to encourage curiosity, cross-pollination, and the creation of new questions to explore. Every Fellow has an interest in both science and religion, as well as a professional / academic background in one or the other. The Fellows engage their communities and create meaningful content (such as the podcast Down the Wormhole) and programs, helping people discover that science and religion are not simply ideas, but involve real concerns that affect real people’s lives.

What do Fellows get out of it?

Almost seventy Fellows have been part of this network and community, with 100% saying it impacted them personally (with 97% saying “a lot”). Even more importantly, 89% of them felt like the experience impacted them professionally (with 57% saying “a lot”) — ranging from academics doing research, clergy delivering sermons, writers working on articles, and educators connecting with students. Across the disciplines, the Fellows discovered that going both deep and broad enhanced their personal and professional relationships.

Sinai and Synapses Fellows have found this program so impactful and rewarding because all Fellows will:

  • Come together six times over two years (three times in a given year) for learning, connections and content creation.
  • Receive $1,500 per year as an honorarium
  • Join a dynamic and robust network of scholars, clergy, doctoral students and writers who are committed to elevating the discourse surrounding religion and science.
  • Learn with some of the most interesting and dynamic thought leaders on topics like “The Cost of Being Right and the Benefit of Being Wrong in Both Science and Religion,” “Technology and Religion: Remaining Human in a Co-Created World,” and “When Science Heals, When Religion Heals.”
  • Gain new skills for communicating with audiences on challenging, controversial and important subjects.
  • Discover opportunities to work with people who are from different areas of expertise and different backgrounds, yet who share a common set of values and sense of purpose.

Previous speakers have included:

Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, Director Emerita of the American Association for Advancement of Science Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion and Senior Astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Center

Professor Stuart Firestein, former chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, author of Ignorance: How It Drives Science, and speaker at TED 2013

Professor Karl Giberson, Scholar-in-Residence in science and religion at Stonehill College and former vice-president of the BioLogos Foundation

Professor Jay Van Bavel, Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University, and co-author of The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony.

Professor Tania Lombrozo, Professor of Psychology at Princeton University

Rev. Susan Hendershot Guy, President of Interfaith Power and Light

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and author of You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism

Previous Fellows have remarked:

“This has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life, and certainly the most fulfilling of my professional life.”

“This is my lifeline to share and discuss important topics in ways I am not free to do at my institution!”

“It is nice to have a society who is open, thoughtful, and simultaneously offer a safe space for various opinions. It’s nice to know people like that are out there. This Fellowship has been instrumental for me — mainly for the connections I’ve established.”

“My Sinai and Synapses cohort of fellows are a wonderful group of people that I would not have met outside the fellowship. We don’t go to the same conferences or run in the same professional circles, but I grew to feel like these were still my people.”

“There is a creative synergy that comes with cross-discipline conversations. An AI expert informing a pastor’s understanding of people’s loneliness (lonely people are using AI as a companion and this is a problem because “AI often makes things up”—it’s in its nature—and offers unwise counsel). An atheist PhD student shares practical developmental psychology wisdom in response to a pastor’s idea for a children’s book. These kinds of synergies must have played out a dozen times for me and there were even moments where I felt I was that voice for others—free enough to be myself and able to bring a bit of my greatest strength to another.

“I leave the Fellowship meetings feeling intellectually challenged in productive and exciting ways, and personally recharged and uplifted, ready to return to my research with new energy. Importantly, I also consistently leave our meetings with concrete action items that will further my work, such as a new book to read, a scholar to look up, or a blog post to write.”

“In this group, we are true to our faith traditions, open to those of others, and meaningfully integrating this all with science. We truly hear each other, respect each other, and grow together.”

“The connections I made in this Fellowship have provided me some of the richest and most deep conversations.”

“I wish this was what academia was like.”

What are the commitments?

If you elect to participate in the Sinai and Synapses Fellowship, you are committing to:

  • Six one-day seminars in New York City in the fall, winter and spring between 2024 and 2026 (three times per year for two years) for learning, networking and program / content development, as well an additional two days in the spring of 2026 for an alumni meeting. The first meeting will be Tuesday, October 29, 2024, with the second meeting will be Tuesday, February 11, 2025, and the third meeting in April / May 2025 (exact date TBD). 
  • Creating content (blog posts, videos, podcasts through “Down the Wormhole” or articles) and/or running programs in your community
  • Approximately four to six Zoom meetings (of about one hour) per year for check-ins and deeper conversations
  • Participating in alumni meetings, particularly after the sixth meeting for an additional two days, to connect with previous Fellows and deepen our network. There are subsidies for the alumni meeting.
  • Bringing both your head and your heart to stimulating and challenging discussions

Who are we looking for?

The ideal Fellow is someone who is:

  • A professional in either religion or science (e.g. clergy person, working scientist, educator, professor, doctoral student, medical professional, journalist)
  • Passionate about elevating the discourse surrounding religion and science
  • A believer that both religion and science can have great value in our society
  • Deeply curious about new ideas and new perspectives
  • Excited about learning from both experts and peers
  • Respectful when challenging others, and willing to be challenged themselves
  • Searching for new questions, rather than trying to find answers
  • Aware that there are often multiple truths on any subject
  • Able to create content and run programs in his/her field
  • Active in public conversations, in addition to academic / religious settings, such as on social media, Substack, or other blogs

Applications will be closed on Tuesday, June 25th, 2024 at 11:59 PM ET. Finalists will be notified for interviews by Tuesday, July 2, 2024. Finalists will have a Zoom interview of approximately 45-60 minutes, scheduled between Tuesday, July 9th and and Thursday, August 1st, and notified by Friday, August 9th.

For more information about the Fellowship or other opportunities, please contact us.

Apply here!