This month’s issue of Connections highlights many innovative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs offered by Jesuit institutions. In recent years, STEM programs have proliferated across all institutions of higher education in the United States, given the increasing demand for highly skilled employees and students seeking careers in occupations like computer science and engineering (source: U.S. Department of Education). Historically, Jesuits have been leaders in these areas of study, and have required students to take multiple science courses as part of the core curriculum. Now, several of our schools are developing scholarship programs to support students (especially minorities) to pursue degrees in STEM fields; you will learn more about such programs in this issue.
Many Jesuits have pursued careers as scientists including, notably, Pope Francis, who was trained as a chemist in Argentina. Our own former president of AJCU, Rev. Charles L. Currie, S.J., holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, and completed post-doctoral training at Cambridge before teaching at Georgetown University. Other notable Jesuits who are especially active in the sciences today include Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., who directs the Vatican Observatory, and Rev. George Coyne, S.J., who holds the Endowed McDevitt Chair in Physics at Le Moyne College.
Next year, audiences across the country will have the opportunity to learn about the life of another notable Jesuit scientist, Rev. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., who will be featured in The Evolution of Teilhard de Chardin, a documentary by Frank Frost Productions, LLC. Fr. Teilhard de Chardin was a paleontologist who led a team that discovered the Peking Man in China; a philosopher whose writings on the environment would later be cited by Pope Francis in the encyclical, Laudato si’; and a priest whose love for God was made manifest through his care for the earth. Following its airing on PBS, The Evolution of Teilhard de Chardin will serve as an educational tool for students across the country, and introduce new audiences to an extraordinary leader in science and technology. For more information on the film, please visit www.teilhardproject.com. If you are interested in helping to bring this documentary to public television through a donation, please click here.
Today, Jesuit colleges and universities have much to be proud of as leaders in STEM fields, producing future scientists, engineers, IT experts and mathematicians. But beyond their technical and academic abilities, our students are learning how to balance faith with reason, and to always seek justice and wisdom. May our schools continue to create and foster strong STEM programs…the next Pope Francis just might be in their classrooms!
All the best,
Deanna I. Howes
Director of Communications, AJCU