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UW-Eau Claire Guest Speaker to Discuss
Religion, Spirituality and Health

RELEASED: Sept. 7, 2006

Dr. Harold Koenig
Dr. Harold Koenig

EAU CLAIRE — The new Chippewa Valley Dialogue on Science and Religion initiative has invited Dr. Harold Koenig, co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center, to present two lectures at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in October.

Koenig will present "Faith and Health: How Religious Beliefs Influence Mind and Body," from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, in the Davies Theatre, Davies Center. The lecture is free, open to the public and intended for a general audience.

Just prior to that, Koenig will present another free lecture geared toward an audience of medical and mental heath professionals, nursing and pre-med students. "Religion, Spirituality and Health: Background, Research and Clinical Applications" will be presented from 5 to 6:45 p.m., also in Davies Theatre.

Koenig is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and an associate professor of medicine. He has published extensively in the fields of mental health, geriatrics and religion, with over 275 scientific peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and 31 books in print or in preparation. Koenig has been nominated twice for the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. His latest books include "The Healing Power of Faith" (2001), "The Handbook of Religion and Health" (Oxford University Press, 2001), "Spirituality in Patient Care" (2002), "The Healing Connection" (2004), "Faith in the Future: Healthcare, Aging, and the Role of Religion" (2004), and "Faith and Mental Health: Religious Resources for Healing" (2005).

Earlier this spring, several faculty and community members established the Chippewa Valley Dialogue on Science and Religion to help people better understand issues that relate to science and religion. The initiative will encourage organized discussions, bring science and religion experts to campus, and help high school science teachers better address questions that touch on religion, said Dr. Charlene Burns, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies at UW-Eau Claire.

"Our agenda is not to present one side and say it's the right side," Burns said. "We want to help people get good information about all sides of an issue, filter it and make sense of it in the context of their own belief system."

The core members of CVDSR have been meeting since fall 2005 to study and discuss some issues they believe have social and religious significance, Burns said. Examples include spirituality and modern medicine, biology and the soul, and the meaning of nature. Last spring the group broadened the conversation by creating study groups so people on or off campus could join the discussion.

CVDSR received a three-year $30,000 grant from the Local Societies Initiative, which is administered by the Metanexus Institute (metanexus.net) through funding from the John Templeton Foundation. The UW-Eau Claire Foundation and the College of Arts and Sciences also provided funds.

For more information about CVDSR or Koenig's presentations, contact Burns at cvdsr@uwec.edu.

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