Religious Education Association

An Association of Professors, Practitioners, and Researchers in Religious Education


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2011 Annual Meeting Theme


Brain Matters: Neuroscience, Creativity, and Diversity

November 4-6, 2011

Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel & Suites

Toronto, ON

From President-Elect and Program Chair Dean Blevins:

Ten years after the original “Decade of the Brain,” new insights in biology, neuroscience, and brain studies continue to inform and at times confound our understandings of cognition, creativity, and educational practice.  Within this growing body of social and scientific discovery, theologians, philosophers, and neuroscientists, along with educators, counselors, and religious practitioners face a myriad of questions around the relationship between religious experience and cognitive neuroscience.  This annual meeting will provide an opportunity for diverse engagement in exploring this relationship both in formal education strategies and in formational practice.  The association welcomes proposals for research papers, colloquia, and workshops that address such questions as:

  • How will insights in neuroscience shape our future understanding of God, personhood, religious experience, belief formation, pluralism, and interreligious dialogue?
  • How does neuroscience influence educational practice, fostering both creativity and stable environments for learning in higher education and community formation?
  • How might neuroscience shape basic models of pedagogy and spiritual formation in the shaping of religious and moral character?
  • How do we identify and overcome early “neuro-myths” perpetuated by incomplete or inaccurate views of brain based learning?  What models can we trust?
  • What are the implications of diverse yet scientifically based modes of cognition including studies in temperament and multiple intelligences?
  • How might neuroscience influence the religious expressions of different traditions, age groups, cultures, ethnicities, genders, socio-economic groups, nationalities, and sexual orientations, creating a broader place for public discourse between science and religion and overcoming the impasse between then within some religious traditions?

Questions and comments about the theme and offers to assist in the design of the meeting may be directed to President-Elect, Dean G.Blevins, PhD. Email:


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Barbara Bradley Hagerty guest speaker at 2011 Annual Meeting

Barbara Bradley Hagerty
NPR Correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty will speak at the 2011 REA Conference. Hagerty is author of the New York Times best seller,  Fingerprints of God: In Search of the Science of Spirituality. Hagerty writes of her book:
This book has been percolating in my subconscious for years, and finally burst to the surface demanding to be written. I was driven by the questions– questions that had puzzled me for years– and I hope they will pique your interest as well.
Questions like: Why are some people more spiritual than others? Is there a God gene? Is there a God spot in the brain, a place where God communicates with us? Are we hard-wired to connect with God? Can we train ourselves to access another, spiritual realm? Is there life after death? And for that matter, is there any evidence for God at all?

Portions of Hagerty’s search can be found on NPR including a special site that asks ”Is This Your Brain on God?”

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Resources for Brain Matters

In recent years we have seen an explosion of resources (print and electronic) in the fields of Neuroscience in relation to both Religion and Education. The following site includes some selections that may help you explore these fields. Some of the material offered is designed to provide a basic introduction (either through selected texts or educationally oriented websites) while other materials may serve to encourage more fruitful exploration into specific sub-disciplines. We encourage your comments on other resources that should be considered. As a growing field we really need a wide array of materials to adequately capture our varied interests so feel free to contact us with additional materials we can offer either here or on our news page.

Introductory Texts

David A. Hogue Remembering the Future, Imagining the Past: Story, Ritual, and the Human Brain
Malcolm Jeeves and Warren S. Brown, Neuroscience, Psychology and Religion
Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa, The New Science of Teaching and Learning
Steven R. Quartz and Terrence J. Sejnowski, Liars, Lovers and Heroes
David A. Sousa, Mind, Brain, and Education: Neuroscience Implications for the Classroom
Carl Zimmer, Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain–and How it Changed the World

Introductory Websites

Brain Targeted Teaching (Johns Hopkins/Mariale Hardiman)
The Dana Foundation (Brain Research)
Is This Your Brain on God?

Popular Readings (General Public)

Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality
Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships
Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
PBS, The Secret Life of the Brain website

Neuroscience General

Antonio Damasio, The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (Adele Diamond)
Eric R. Kandel, In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind
Joseph LeDoux,  Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are
Website for Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

Neuroscience and Religion (Explorations and Issues)

Contemplative Mind and Society Website
Joel B. Green, Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible
Fetzer Institute on Science & Spirituality
Mark Graves, Mind, Brain and the Elusive Soul
Nancy Murphy and Warren S. Brown, Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?
Andrew Newberg, How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist

Neuroscience and Education (Explorations and Issues)

Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa, Mind, Brain, and Education Science: A Comprehensive Guide to the New Brain-Based Teaching
Uta Frith, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education
NEnet – The NeuroEducational Research Network
OECD, Understanding the Brain: Towards a New Learning Science


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