Institute of Buddhist Studies Hosts Religion Scholars and Journalists from Across the US to Address Technology’s Impacts on Human Relationships

From October 2-4, the Institute of Buddhist Studies held its first annual meeting for grantees of Public Theologies of Technology and Presence, the Institute’s new research and journalism initiative funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. The initiative supports projects by scholars of religion, theologians, and journalists that address the profound impacts of technologies on human relationships. At the multi-day meeting 15 grantees presented their early-stage research and laid the foundation for collaborations that will span the three-year initiative.

The grantee research projects draw on the study and practice of many different religions—including Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestant traditions, Judaism, Hinduism, Africana religions, among others—to address the human relational impacts of technologies including artificial intelligence, human augmentation, cryptocurrencies, surveillance technologies, video games, and social media. (For detailed descriptions of the projects visit www.shin-ibs.edu/luce/).

Presentations at the meeting were divided into thematic panels such as Artificial Intelligence; Intimate Relationships; Good, Evil, and Morality; and Time. Additional panels addressed impactful public scholarship and journalism in the area of religion, technology, and human relationships; and innovative pedagogy on these themes within university and theological institution contexts.

Dr. Steven Barrie-Anthony, the initiative’s Director, said, “This first meeting was a wonderful beginning to the initiative. It demonstrated again and for all present, I think, the rich usefulness of theology and the academic study of religion for shedding new light on technology’s human impacts. The discussions at the meeting, drawing equally on points of overlap and productive divergences, enriched the research projects underway, and the group left energized for their own research projects as for the meetings and collaborations to come.”

Starting next year the initiative’s meetings will include technologists. The initiative’s many public outputs will include scholarly and popular publications; white papers; a digital forum; and public talks. To keep abreast of the work of the initiative, visit www.shin-ibs.edu/luce/.

First Meeting of Public Theologies of Technology and Presence Grantees
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