Fern Elsdon-Baker

Colleges, School and Institutes


I am currently Professor of Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society at the University of Birmingham and I lead the Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society Research Group within the College of Arts and Law.

Before moving to the University of Birmingham, I was the Director of the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society at Newman University, one of the few research centres globally whose core focus was the study of science and belief across sociology, social psychology, religious studies, historical, philosophical and science studies perspectives. Prior to that I was deputy Director of the Centre for Social Relations at Coventry University.

I briefly left academia from 2008 – 2012 to work for the British Council on large-scale science and religion related projects. In the first instance I worked as Head of the Darwin Now Project. Darwin Now was a multi-million-pound global initiative running in 50 countries worldwide, which celebrated the life and work of Charles Darwin, as part of the international celebrations of the Darwin anniversaries in 2009. Subsequently, I went on to become Director of the British Councils Belief in Dialogue Programme – a multi-regional portfolio of inter-cultural and interfaith dialogue projects.

My earlier doctoral/postdoctoral research focused on theories of inheritance, science communication and its relationship to scientific knowledge production from the 1800s to present. In 2009 I published a book based on aspects of this research: Selfish Genius: How Richard Dawkins Rewrote Darwin’s Legacy.


Research interests

I am transdisciplinary researcher whose work is predominantly sociological, historical, philosophical and psychological in approach. My research focuses on: the perception of, and engagement with, STEMM in diverse societies; National and international science communication: the role of 'science', non-religion and/or beliefs as identity markers, in public space 'conflict narratives', stereotypes or prejudice formation; and public perceptions of the relationship between science and belief. 

I am currently the Principal Investigator on the ‘Science and Religion Exploring the Spectrum: The Relationship between Evolutionary Science and Religious Belief in Global Perspective’ (SRES2), a £3.4 Million 3-year research project working with partners in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, Sri Lanka, the UK and the US.

I also the Principal Investigator on the International Research Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society project, a £2.2 million 3-year research project that aims to foster and support research that examines any social or cultural aspect of science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine (STEMM) in relation to any religious, spiritual or non-religious tradition, position or worldview, including unbelief.


Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

I am happy to supervise students on any aspects of the following areas:

STEMM in Culture or Society
Public Engagement with STEMM
International Science Communication/Public Engagement with STEMM
Public Perceptions of Science in Diverse Societies
Science, Religion and Belief in Society or Culture
History and Communication of Darwinism/Evolutionary Science
Intercultural or Cross-Cultural dialogue.