Developing a Workshop for Secondary School Students that Provides a Space to Explore Questions About Human Personhood Through the Context of Human-like Machines

  • Berry BillingsleyEmail author
  • Mehdi Nassaji
Part of the Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education book series (CTISE, volume 48)


This chapter explains the rationale, design and evaluation of a series of activities for secondary school students which were developed by specialists in education, neuroscience and philosophy as part of the LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) ‘Being Human’ project. The activities were designed to develop students’ epistemic insight and expressed curiosity about the Big Question of human personhood, in the context of nearly human-like machines. Our motivation was a concern that some students may be missing the language and cross-disciplinary frameworks they need to make critical comparisons between human-like machines and human beings. The sessions were informed by existing research that explores apparent contradictions on the question of personhood when looking at both scientific and religious accounts. The aim was to give school students access to the idea that scientific and nonreductive (including religious) ways of thinking about personhood can be compatible. The data gathered from workshop participants revealed that students were engaged by the workshop and that students’ epistemic insight was enhanced by the teaching. The workshop outlines are offered here and can be used to develop guidelines to explore the links between scientific findings and religious accounts of personhood.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion)Canterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK

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