UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Professor Arthur Petersen announced as Editor-in-Chief of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science

26 April 2018

Following the announcement of the retirement of its distinguished editor, Professor Willem B.

Arthur Petersen Inaugural Lecture

Drees, the Joint Publication Board (JPB) of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science is pleased to announce the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief, Professor Arthur C. Petersen of University College London. The appointment will be effective June 2018, with an editorial start date in September. The transition between the two Editors will begin in June and be completed by the end of 2018.


University College London's Vice-Provost (Research) Professor G. David Price offered remarkable support for Professor Petersen assuming the editorship of Zygon, noting, "UCL is proud of its radical tradition: since its founding in 1826, UCL has always responded to contemporary circumstances and the needs of society. The global conversation between different religions and the scientific enterprise is an example of an activity that needs urgent attention. I believe that UCL (which consistently ranks highly in international league tables) can play a significant role here: humanity will not secure its survival without the knowledge and wisdom generated by leading universities - and such knowledge and wisdom also has to engage with religious practices. UCL's research strategy aims to cross boundaries to increase engagement with global society. Professor Petersen's Editorship - and the ensuing activities such as symposia and conferences envisaged - will contribute to realizing this strategy."

Professor Price further noted, "Facilitating Professor Petersen to take up this Editorship constitutes a continuation of our institutional support for his research activities in this important field. He will bring the rigor needed for the quality as well as the vision needed for the relevance of the journal. In particular, his experience in linking science and politics/policy could well be pivotal for Zygon's continuing success in the next decade."

Professor Petersen has been a reader of Zygon since he first engaged with the field of science and religion in the early 1990s. He became a member of IRAS and subscriber to the journal in the mid 2000s. He has (critically) reviewed a handful of Zygon articles, made fruitful suggestions to the editor for speakers in a Zygon-curated symposium (also authors of subsequent articles), and has also published one of his own articles in the journal (in 2014). He states: "I am honoured and proud to be offered this role of Editor-in-Chief of Zygon. I think that religion-and-science is presently underthematized in thinking about the science-policy interface, or how to deal with uncertainty and value-ladenness of assumptions in science-heavy societal problems. With addition of this renewed editorial emphasis, I will dedicate my energies to continuing the existing profile of the journal."

Since 2014, Professor Petersen has served as Professor of Science, Technology and Public Policy, playing various leadership roles in the build-up of University College London's new Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP). Within the Department he continues to fulfill the roles of Director of Doctoral Studies and Departmental Graduate Tutor (Research). This followed more than 13 years' work as scientific adviser on environment and infrastructure policy within the Dutch Government. Most recently he served as Chief Scientist of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (2011-2014).

Professor Petersen is also a Visiting Fellow at Osaka University (2018) and Research Affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (since 2009). He has been Adjunct Professor of Science and Environmental Public Policy at the VU University Amsterdam (2011-2016) and Professorial Fellow at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment - RIVM (2016-2017), and he has been Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science (2009-2014) and at UCL STEaPP (January-August 2014).

Professor Petersen studied physics and philosophy, obtained doctorate degrees in atmospheric sciences (Doctor of Philosophy - PhD, Utrecht University, 1999) and philosophy of science (Doctor of Public Administration - DPA, VU University Amsterdam, 2006), and now also finds disciplinary homes in anthropology, political science and science & religion. He is currently working on his third doctorate (DPhil in Science and Religion) at the University of Oxford, under the supervision of Professor Alister McGrath, where he is writing a book on uncertainty in science and religion.

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