The academic dean at a Christian school in the Southeast recently reached out to BioLogos. Their school had made a decision to switch from Christian science textbooks to secular ones, and she was getting pushback from parents and teachers. What advice or resources could BioLogos offer? she wanted to know.
Many schools are making similar changes to align their curricula with the Next Generation Science Standards. Christian school teachers and homeschool parents who want to teach cutting edge science in a faith-affirming way find themselves on the horns of a dilemma: curricula from Christian publishers are often weak on the science (particularly in biology), promoting either young earth creationism or intelligent design, while secular curricula don’t address how modern science can fit with biblical faith. Many teachers use BioLogos books, videos, and articles in the classroom alongside their biology curriculum, but many more do not have the time or wide-ranging expertise to find, evaluate, and choose from the many resources available on science/faith topics.
BioLogos INTEGRATE is our first response to many requests for an instructional tool that does the work for busy educators, compiling expertly vetted information and quality resources in a user-friendly, modular teachers’ guide. Designed specifically for teachers and parents of high school biology students, BioLogos INTEGRATE explores biology from a Christian worldview and presents a positive science-faith paradigm. By emphasizing Christian virtues such as wonder, humility, and wisdom, and by addressing common questions related to evolution, creation care, and bioethics, INTEGRATE will help young people develop a deeper love and stronger understanding of God’s world.
INTEGRATE is designed to be used alongside any standard high school biology curriculum. Each unit addresses a cluster of questions related to a topical area that is covered in a typical high school biology course. Units are composed of modules, which are self-contained pedagogical units. A teacher may pick and choose which modules within a given unit she wants to use, but they are designed in sequence such that they build on each other.
Currently the INTEGRATE team plans to develop content in several areas that are controversial for many Christians. These include climate change, genetic diversity, reproductive technology, and evolution (including human evolution). These topics are critical to include if educators are going to address the real questions and concerns of today’s young people as they study biology. Science is advancing quickly, and students need to be exposed to what is happening in a safe environment where they can ask questions and see how their faith informs their thoughts and convictions about these advances. Our goal in the curriculum is not to advocate for one right way of thinking, however. Rather, as we present areas of scientific consensus or what is possible with certain technologies, we point out where there are legitimate scientific questions remaining and where there is a diversity of Christian thought. Importantly, we affirm core Christian doctrines and encourage biblical reflection throughout.
While coming from an evolutionary creationist perspective, INTEGRATE is written with sensitivity to the fact that evolutionary creation will challenge many Christian students’ worldviews. The authors of INTEGRATE have made an effort to ensure that other Christian perspectives on origins are discussed respectfully. Reflection assignments and discussion questions are intentionally open-ended and allow students to process the material in the context of their own beliefs and values without expecting they adopt any one “correct” perspective.
We are one year into a three-year development process. So far we have developed 5 units (out of a projected 15+) and will pilot them during the 2018-2019 school year as we work on other units.
Since the beginning, BioLogos has had a heart for Christian education and a desire to equip educators. We held focus groups with teachers and homeschool parents as far back as 2009 to understand their needs. We hosted week-long professional development workshops for middle-school and high school biology teachers from Christian schools in 2010, 2011, and 2012. We launched the K-12 Educators Resource Center in 2014 and the Homeschool Forum in 2016. Now, with INTEGRATE in development, we have an even better answer when people like my new academic dean friend ask for resources.
The vision of our team is to help Christian young people turn from fear and distrust to wonder and worship as they study biology. We hope they get excited about their own potential to be thought leaders in STEM fields and in the church. Please pray with us that INTEGRATE will help equip the next generation to bear witness to the truth and goodness of God’s word and God’s world!