Religion and Innovation: symposium and webcast, April 12

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Religion and Innovation: Symposium and Webcast
Friday April 12, 2019
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History
S. C. Johnson Conference Center, 1st Floor, West Wing
Washington, DC USA

FREE and open to the public!

TO ATTEND IN PERSON: Register via EventBrite:

TO VIEW THE WEBCAST: No need to register, simply tune to on April 12, and use the online Q&A feature to pose a question for the panelists. 

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: #ReligionAndInnovation

Join noted scholars for a one-day symposium exploring the history and intersections of religion and innovation.

Technological breakthroughs have always been deeply intertwined with religious thought and practice. Spiritual leaders have transformed American beliefs by harnessing new technologies, from electric power and the telegraph to television and computers, in order to spread traditional teachings and inspire new religious movements. In turn, many inventors have pointed to religious inspirations for their technological leaps. This pattern continues as innovations in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to gene editing reinvigorate longstanding disputes and raise new ethical concerns.

10:00 a.m.   Museum opens (arrive early, as there are often long entry lines during the busy spring season…)

10:30 a.m.   Welcome
Anthea M. Hartig, Elizabeth MacMillan Director, National Museum of American History (NMAH)

10:35 a.m.   Opening remarks
Peter Manseau, Religion in America Initiative, NMAH

11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.   Networks: Intersections of information, communication, and religion
Jenna Supp Montgomerie, University of Iowa 
Lerone Martin, Washington University in St. Louis
Christopher Helland, Dalhousie University
Moderator: Peter Manseau, Religion in America Initiative, NMAH

Lunch provided (EventBrite registration required)

1:15–2:15 p.m.   Machines: Connections between technology and religious practice
Steven Jones, University of South Florida
Leor Halevi, Vanderbilt University
Noreen Herzfeld, College of Saint Benedict / Saint John's University
Moderator: Eric S. Hintz, Lemelson Center, NMAH

2:30–3:30 p.m.   Bodies: Medical innovation and religious interpretations of the human body
Sarah Imhoff, Indiana University
Hillary Kaell, Concordia University
Samira Mehta, Albright College
John Modern, Franklin and Marshall College
Moderator: Alexandra Lord, Division of Medicine and Science, NMAH

3:30 p.m.   Concluding discussion
Arthur Daemmrich, Director, Lemelson Center, NMAH 

Hosted by the National Museum of American History’s Religion in America Initiative and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. and the John Templeton Foundation.

The National Museum of American History welcomes visitors of all abilities. Requests for accessibility services can be made by phone: 202-633-3150, or email: