January 02, 2023

Interdisciplinary Symposium made possible by grants from the Templeton Religion Trust (TRT)

March 23-25, 2023

Can we use today's and future empirical means to raise our understanding of the phenomenological effect of sacred spaces and structures, particularly as they relate to spirituality and faith? The work and thought of late neuroscientist Francisco Varela loom large here, but much has occurred since his passing, and a whole new world in neuroscience is unfolding. We will consider the science behind what has been termed 'aesthetic cognitivism' by some philosophers and the latest empirical insights coming from theological aesthetics. 

A selected number of individuals from a variety of disciplines whose works and thoughts have been significantly advancing this new area of scholarship and research will be participating in the Symposium. Such broad interdisciplinarity will allow us to view and interrogate the intersection of human spirituality and the built environment from first, second, and third-person perspectives.

The Symposium will be organized around lectures and panels that include ample time for discussions and exchanges. The lecturers will be (in alphabetical order after their last names) neuroscientist Michael Arbib, cognitive neuroscientist Anjan Chatterjee, philosopher Gordon Graham, architect Sarah Robinson, and theologian Richard Viladesau. The panelists will be Thomas Beaudoin (theology), Jonathan Berger (music), Julio Bermudez (architecture), Elisabetta Canepa (architecture), Lin-Ching Chang (engineering and computing), Zakaria Djebbara (architecture), Harrison Fraker (architecture), Robin Jensen (art history), Juliet King (art therapy), Mohamad Koubeissi (neurology), Yoshio Nakamura (psychology), Matthew Niermann (architecture), Suchi Reddy (architecture), Carol Rickard (architecture), Milton Shinberg (architecture), and Ann Sussman (architecture).

The event will be conducted live at the School on the Catholic University of America campus in Washington, DC. Attendance will be completely free and open to the public for both in-person or online presence (those parts that are broadcast). The only requirement is to register beforehand. If interested, contact Symposium Director Julio Bermudez at bermudez@cua.edu via email and include the following information:

Affiliation (institution, company, private)

Email to be used for contact (and receive webinar links)

Area of expertise or interest

For more information, visit: https://sacred-space.net/ASU-symposium/