Students walking on PBA campus



View Interdisciplinary Research Conference

The 10th annual Palm Beach Atlantic University Interdisciplinary Research Conference opens April 5, in a virtual-only format that allows you to watch any and all of it at your convenience.

Held in the Warren Library in prior years, the conference ran for two days, with some time slots that often conflicted with students’ classes. This year the Media Services Department has made video recordings of each presentation so you can view them online.

David Compton

“Hey, you can see them anytime, online, in your pajamas if you want,” said Dr. Thomas Chesnes, this year’s keynote presenter.

The link to the conference already provides a detailed list and descriptions of what’s to come: oral presentations by students and faculty, discussion panels and poster presentations. The depth and variety of the material is amazing, said Dr. David Compton, conference coordinator.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of ‘Wow! We’re doing that here?’” as people check out the conference offerings, he said. “There are just amazing things happening in research all around the campus.”

Whether your interests lie in cancer research, C.S. Lewis, psychology, leadership, pharmaceuticals or music, you’re likely to find something fascinating, he said.

Compton, professor of psychology, serves as fellow for research in the sciences and chair of the Office of Academic Research. “I just love the whole discovery process,” he said, “picking up clues and putting it all together.”

Keynote speaker Chesnes is professor of biology and associate dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. His presentation is titled “A Conscientious Objection to the Scientific Culture War.”

The topic springs from Chesnes’ 19 years of teaching at PBA and interacting with countless students. So often he’s observed what he calls unwarranted and unnecessary “casualties of interpretation” in a culture war between faith and science.

Over the years, most often the uncomfortable struggle involves the discussion of creation versus evolution. “But now,” said Chesnes, “strangely enough, subjects like climate change or the simplicity of wearing a mask are controversial subjects in some Christian circles.”Tom

The unfortunate outcome, he said, sometimes means that Christian students avoid studying the sciences. Or on the other hand, students from a strong faith background might study and find truth in the sciences, only then to question their faith.

“We’re putting people into this fall dichotomy, this false ‘either/or’ situation,” he said. “And I think this is completely avoidable if you really understand what we’re trying to ask and what we’re trying to answer using scientific tools.”

Chesnes will discuss the historic context of the science culture war, domain limitations of science and philosophy and the current “fronts” of the scientific culture war in relation to faith.

“If we address it the right way, we can have important discussions,” he said, “but we need to make sure that we’re playing by the same ground rules.”