Shine: Siri Erickson

Posted on May 18th, 2016 by

CORE VALUE: FAITH. At Gustavus, questions of faith permeate in traditional Lutheran practices, like Daily Sabbath and sacred music. They are present in nontraditional ways too, like the planned Multifaith Center in the renovated Anderson Hall. It will have flex space for students to pray and engage in a variety of contemplative practices from their own traditions. (Photo: Becca Sabot)

(Shine profiles celebrate members of the Gustavus community who are shining examples of one of the Gustavus core values.)

“I was going to be a scientist.”

But when Gustavus chaplain Siri Erickson took an undergraduate course at Carleton College titled “Women in Religion” with Sister Rosemary Rader, a Benedictine nun, everything changed.

She ended up taking four classes with Rader.

“It was like I discovered a long-lost sisterhood of women that were intelligent and spiritual but had a lot of critical questions about their traditions,” Erickson says. “And they weren’t willing to give up on it.”

Erickson has not given up on it either. Nor has she given up on science. (She still earned a BA in chemistry before heading to seminary.) This summer, Erickson debuts the Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics for high school students. As director of the Academy, Erickson leads a team from the chaplains’ office, plus professor of chemistry Scott Bur and professor of religion Marcia Bunge. Together, they are preparing the Gustavus students who will work as mentors at the Academy and designing curriculum for the 45 high school students who will explore how scientists and people of faith work together to address global ethical challenges. And she’s bringing professionals who work at these intersections to campus during the Academy’s summer program, including Grace Wolf-Chase, astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

Erickson co-wrote the grant that secured funding for the Academy, tailoring it to the Gustavus tradition of inquiry at the boundaries of science and faith. “It seemed totally appropriate to merge faith and science,” Erickson says. “I fell in love with theology because it was asking the big questions. I’m not the only one with these questions.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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  1. E Paul Lian says: