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Professor's Award-Winning Course
Receives Development Grant

Posted November 6, 2000

HOLLAND -- An award-winning course taught by Dr. Timothy Pennings of the Hope College mathematics faculty has received recognition from the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences.

Pennings, an associate professor of mathematics, received a $2,000 award for his course "Infinity and the Absolute" through the center's "Development Grants" program. The center is awarding approximately 50 of the grants during 2000.

The grant competition is open to past recipients of a "Science and Religion Course" prize from the John Templeton Foundation. The foundation honored Pennings for the course in 1997 for effectively combining strong scholarship with dialogue between the two fields.

Pennings' course is part of the college's "Senior Seminar" program. Senior Seminars are capstone courses which engage Hope seniors in articulating their own philosophy for living in light of Christian perspectives.

"Infinity and the Absolute," first offered in 1991, begins with the study of the mathematical idea of the infinite and its connections with absolute truth. Students are then led through related topics, including the span of the universe, moral absolutes and the co-existence of evil with a loving omnipotent creator.

"The point of this course is to reflect together in a personal yet disciplined way on the 'big' questions of life," Pennings said.

Applicants for the Development Grants were asked to report on the course's on-going impact on campus. Among others, Pennings quoted a spring, 2000, student who noted, "I have found issues which we discussed in class surfacing all around me in my life. But, what is more impressive, is that these issues have always existed, I have merely been blind toward them until now."

Pennings is contributing the award to the construction of the college's new science center, which is part of the "Legacies: A Vision of Hope" fund-raising campaign. He believes the expansion will make a real difference as the Hope community explores and researches topics in science and religion.

"As a Christian college exceptionally strong in the sciences, Hope College is poised to be at the forefront of the melding of science and religion in the context of a liberal arts education," he said. "I want to do what I can to help the college achieve that potential."

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