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
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."