Finley Lawson is a research Fellow at the LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) Research hub based in the Faculty of Education at CCCU. He joined LASAR in 2017 having previously worked in schools for 10 years as an educational support worker and Religious Studies specialist. His is interested in the dialogue between STEM, Religion and the wider humanities, and how this can be fostered in the primary and secondary curriculum. His current research examines the impact of developing students' epistemic insight (understanding of the nature of knowledge and knowledge formation) through Informal Science Learning (ISL) focused on the philosophical big questions raised by science and technology. Finley is the Lead Research Fellow on the HEFCE funded Inspiring Minds Project run in collaboration with Outreach, and the Royal Academy of Engineering funded Engineering Ed project.
His broader interests focus on the impact of epistemic insight-led pedagogy on subject compartmentalisation and whether the development of a broader understanding of the nature of knowledge will influence student aspiration and widening participation on HE. This develops his previous experience as an advanced skills tutor for the Brilliant Club (primary and secondary) and a tutor for the Advocacy Academy.
In addition to his faculty role he is undertaking a part-time PhD applying current scientific understanding of the holistic nature of the world to our theological metaphysics, in particular in relation to discussions of divine and human personhood. With a wider interest in using a holistic ontology to develop a more coherent account of personhood, and how this account can be profitably brought into theological discussions about diverse embodiment - Supervisory Team: Ralph Norman & Jeremy Law.
Research and knowledge exchange
2018 -2021 All Saints Educational Trust: Raising the profile of RE through teacher education, whole school & policy engagement with the importance of RE in addressing Big Questions raised by our technological world. (co-authored proposal; PI: Prof. Berry Billingsley)
2018 – 2019 RAE Ingenious Award: “Working with Engineers to Teach Children to Think Like Engineers”. (co-authored proposal; PI: Prof. Berry Billingsley)
Within the broad theme of Epistemic Insight, this project will research the impacts for engineers and primary schools of designing and delivering workshops to give young people an authentic experience of the curiosity and wonder of thinking like an engineer. The project is working with engineers, engineering students and BA Education students to design and deliver sustained engagement workshops for upper Key Stage 2 pupils on "Engineering and Big Questions".
2017-2021 Inspiring Minds Project with CCCU Outreach
HEFCE funded project for the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP). NCOP and its regional consortium in Kent & Medway (KaMCOP) aims to support the most disadvantaged young people in England to progress into higher education.
The Inspiring Minds programme empowers students to make informed decisions about their education and employment trajectories while providing spaces where they can share their ideas with each other and have their voices heard. The course builds students’ epistemic insight, which refers to students’ ability to think across their subjects and beyond, to ask good questions and to make good use of what is already known. Each session has been designed to support students to develop their critical thinking skills through bridging the boundaries between STEM and their other subjects.
Teaching and subject expertise
Teaching Experience (in school & informal settings):
- Key Stage 5: A-Level and Pre-U: Philosophy & Theology; Study/Employability Skills & UCAS
- Key Stage 3 & 4: Philosophy; Science, Technology and Religion
- Key Stage 2: Philosophy; Science, Technology and Religion
- CPD development & delivery for pre- and in-service teachers/tutors
- CPD development & delivery for engineers involved in ISL activities
- Development & Delivery of Inspiring Minds academic content
Teaching Experience (Higher Education):
- Development of “Educational Research” option for Alternative Learning Experience Module (UG level 5) BA Primary Education
- UG (level 5) development & teaching Religion & Science Module (20 credits) BA Philosophy Religion & Ethics/ BA Theology
- Science and Religion Forum (full member since 2015; Committee Member since 2018)
- Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (full member since 2015)
- Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (full member since 2015)
Conference Presentations since joining LASAR (for a full list of presentations see academia.edu profile)
Oct 2019 Christ, The Cosmos and Critical Realism; Presented at Institute of Philosophy, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Warsaw: Science, Philosophy, Theology - Dialogue Areas & Perspectives (International Interdisciplinary Conference)
June 2019 Inspiring Minds through Informal Science Learning; Presented with Stefan Colley & Megan Hunt at Lancaster University: NEON (National Education Opportunities Network) Summer Symposium
June 2019 Opportunities and Possibilities Raised by Teaching Science and Religion in the Digital Age; Invited Speaker at University of Edinburgh Conference: Religion Meets Science (Research for Secondary Religious Education)
April 2019 Inspiring Minds: Widening Participation Opportunities with Big Questions on Identity and STEM; Presented at Science and Religion Forum Annual Conference: “AI and Robotics: The Science, Opportunities and Challenges”
Oct 2018 “Religion and Worldviews” – How can Students Navigate Discipline Boundaries?: Understanding the Place of RE in the Wider Curriculum; Presented at 20:20 RE: “Practice, Policy and Powerful Knowledge”
May 2018 Teaching Science and Religion in the Digital Age; Presented with Dr Mehdi Nassaji at University of Edinburgh (Eidyn) Conference: “Online Pedagogy”
April 2018 Navigating the “Human” and “Divine” Natures in a Holistic World; Presented at ESSSAT Bi-Annual Conference: “Nature and Beyond”
Publications and research outputs
2020 F. Lawson, M. Hunt, D. Goodwin & S. Colley, ‘Inspiring Minds: How Big Questions can build students’ epistemic insight and improve attitudes towards STEM’, in School Science Review, vol 377
2020 M. Oh & F.Lawson, ‘Engineering Ed: Dealing with Failure and the Robotic Future – Engaging Students in Multidisciplinary STEM Learning’, in School Science Review, vol 376 [open access https://www.ase.org.uk/resources/school-science-review/issue-376/engineering-ed-project-dealing-failure-and-robotic-future-]
2019 F. Lawson, ‘"Not Three Gods, but One" – Why Reductionism Does Not Serve Our Theological Discourse’, Athens Journal of Humanities & Arts Vol. 6 Issue 1, (pp 85-106)
2018 Billingsley, B., Nassaji, M., Fraser, S., Lawson F. 'A Framework for Teaching Epistemic Insight in Schools', Research in Science Education, Vol. 48, Issue 6, (pp 1115–1131) [Open Access] https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-018-9788-6
2019 F. Lawson, "Denying the Binary – A Non-Boolean Approach to Queer Bodies in Theology", in A. Vähäkangas, K.H. Johansen, T.S Kaufman & S. Angel (eds) Reforming Practical Theology: The Politics of Body and Space [Open Access https://iapt-cs.org/ojs/index.php/iaptcs/article/view/52/53]
2018 F. Lawson, “Complete in Manhood” – Understanding Christ’s Humanity in Light of Quantum Holism, in Evers, Fuller et al. (Eds) Studies in Science and Theology Vol. 16 (pp. 127-142), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
2016 F. Lawson, “He who descended is Himself also He who ascended” - Exploring the Identity of the Son of God in Light of Quantum Holism, in N. Spurway & L. Hickman (eds) Forty Years of Science and Religion: Looking Back, Looking Forward (pp179-186), Cambridge Scholars Publishing
2018 F. Lawson, Review of On Faith and Science, by Edward J. Larson & Michael Ruse, Reviews in Science and Religion, no. 70 (pp. 26-31)
2016 F. Lawson, Review of The War on God: Science Versus Religion Today, by Christopher Nassaar, Reviews in Science and Religion, no. 67 (pp28-34)