USF professor Ira Sukrungruang chosen as national fellowship mentor

He'll guide 15 fellows in the crafting of creative nonfiction.

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Ira Sukrungruang
Ira Sukrungruang, TWP Science and Religion fellowship mentor

Author and University of South Florida professor Ira Sukrungruang was selected as one of five writing mentors for Think Write Publish (TWP), a national program intended to examine the crossroads of religion and science.

From a pool of nearly 650 applicants, 15 selected fellows will work in conjunction with the mentors to study creative nonfiction. Sponsored by Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society (SFIS), the two-year fellowship aims to craft engaging, original and true stories about science and religion.

“We were amazed at the quality of the applicant pool, and narrowing down from the top 100 or so applicants to the final 15 was very difficult,” said project director Lee Gutkind, writer-in-residence and professor at SFIS. “Obviously we not only struck a vein of untapped interest and passion, but the diversity of story ideas and life experiences presented by the applicants was incredible.”

Narrative proposals range from current to historic, such as the influence of religion on Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler’s work, a case study of a Catholic school on the U.S.-Mexico border that teaches traditional religion along with modern science, and an account of a physicist father and humanist daughter making amends via religion.

The program intends to shed light on the tension between religion and science in society and reform the belief that the two cannot coincide. While tales of conflict between science and religion are widely known, such as Galileo’s trial and the current debate of evolution being taught in schools, stories of science and religion functioning harmoniously are not.

The program grants fellows with a $10,000 stipend, three comprehensive training workshops, and various publicity events. TWP also hosts a writing competition and generates partnerships with science museums across the nation in order to deliver a new perspective and appreciation of the concurrence of science and religion to the public.

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