Ann Giletti: BoundSci Public Engagement Activities

Heresy and Medieval Science


Boundaries of Science, a research project conducted by Ann Giletti and funded by the European Commission, explores faith-reason conflicts in the late Middle Ages. It looks at how controversial scientific (natural philosophy) theories were labelled ‘heretical’, how scholars handled restrictions to academic exploration, and how they confronted conflicting truths of science and Christianity. The project and historical background are described on the project website and Faculty blog, and have been shared with public audiences through a range of activities. Two school activities took the project to St Clare’s and Bloxham School, where teenagers discussed the problem of conflicting truths. In September 2017, the project was presented in a street event at the Curiosity Carnival, Oxford’s participation with 300 cities in European Researcher’s Night; and July 2018 saw a public lecture at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford (Promoting Science by Calling it Heresy) followed by a lively discussion. Two articles shared findings with magazine readers: ‘Double Truth: Medieval story reveals how you can believe two conflicting positions at once’, in The Conversation; and ‘Heretical Science: Three Medieval cervelli Embroiled in a Major Controversy’, in TOIA Magazine (pp. 7-8). Participants in live events and online engagement initiated stimulating discussions of the nature of truth and conflicting truths, limits placed on avenues of research, and the history of our scientific heritage, sharing their insights into these topics historically and today.

Boundaries of Science: Medieval Condemnations of Philosophy as Heresy – This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 701523 (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – IF – 701523 – BoundSci).