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Copernicus Center for Interdisciplinary Studies Opens in Krakow, Poland

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

The Copernicus Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, funded in large part by 2008 Templeton Prize Laureate, Professor Michael Heller, was formally opened today at a ceremony in the Collegium Maius of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.

The Center, a joint venture between the Jagiellonian University and the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow, was established to further research and education in science and theology as an academic discipline.

Chairing the opening ceremonies were Professor Karol Musiol, rector of the Jagiellonian University, and Rev. Professor Jan Maciej Dyduch, rector of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. Joining the festivities were Professor Heller and Charles L. Harper, Jr., D.Phil., Senior Executive Vice President of the John Templeton Foundation, which awards the Prize. Subsequently, the agreement between the two universities establishing the Copernicus Center was officially signed.

The Templeton Prize, valued in 2008 at 820,000 pounds sterling, more than $1.6 million, was awarded to Polish cosmologist and Catholic priest Michael Heller at Buckingham Palace in London on May 7th. Heller announced his plans to dedicate the Prize, the world's largest annual monetary award given to an individual, to the creation of the Copernicus Center at a March 12th news conference in New York City.

Thursday's inauguration kicked off a two-day conference organized jointly by the Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Informatics of the Jagiellonian University and the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. The conference theme, "Whether science will replace religion," will be examined by distinguished Polish scholars from various disciplines including mathematics, physics, biology, philosophy, theology, and law.

Research at the Copernicus Center will focus on mutual relations among theology, science, and philosophy, including astronomy and cosmology, biology, mathematics, physics, and the history of science. The Center will organize course lectures, public lectures, and seminars, and publish two monograph series and a yearbook, For Philosophy and Science, in English and Polish. To date, research teams established within the Center include:

Charles L. Harper, Jr., D. Phil., Senior Executive Vice President of the John Templeton Foundation; Prof. Karol Musiol, Rector of the Jagiellonian University; Rev. Prof. Jan Dyduch, Rector of the Pontifical Academy of Theology; and Prof. Michael Heller, 2008 Templeton Prize Laureate, at the opening of the Copernicus Center, Krakow, Poland, October 2nd, 2008.

Charles L. Harper, Jr. speaks at the opening ceremony of the Copernicus Center. Prof. Karol Musiol, Rev. Prof. Jan Dyduch, and Prof. Michael Heller look on.

Rev. Prof. Jan Dyduch signs the documents officially opening the Copernicus Center.

It's official! Rev. Prof. Jan Dyduch, Charles L. Harper, Jr., Prof. Michael Heller and Prof. Karol Musiol celebrate the occasion.

Prof. Michael Heller speaks to reporters after the Copernicus Center inauguration ceremony.

The Copernicus Center inauguration ceremony was held at the Collegium Maius of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Dating back to 1400, the Collegium Maius is the oldest building at Jagiellonian, which is the second-oldest university in Europe, founded in 1364.

Photos: Margaret Glodz