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Philosophy and religious studies professor earns Schoenfeld honors

RELEASED: Sept. 13, 2010

Dr. Charlene Burns
Dr. Charlene Burns

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Charlene Burns, professor of philosophy and religious studies, is the 12th recipient of the Maxwell Schoenfeld Distinguished Professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The award, which was created in honor of Dr. Maxwell Schoenfeld, a UW-Eau Claire history professor and scholar from 1964 until his death in 1996, recognizes a commitment to the university, excellence in teaching, achievement in scholarship and a commitment to student learning and life.

"Charlene represents exactly what the Schoenfeld Distinguished Professorship is all about," said Dr. Bernard Duyfhuizen, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. "Her outstanding contributions to all facets of faculty work make her an exemplary recipient of this year's award."

Burns was the leader of the Chippewa Valley Dialogue on Science and Religion, an initiative that helps people better understand issues that relate to science and religion. The initiative, launched in 2006, encourages organized discussions, brings science and religion experts to campus, and helps high school science teachers better address questions that touch on religion.

"In addition to CVDSR, I've been fortunate to have a successful scholarship record," said Burns, who has been a member of UW-Eau Claire's faculty since 2001. "I have three books and quite a few peer-reviewed articles, the most recent of which deal with issues in religion and psychology/cognitive science, and religion and technology."

Burns' books include "Mis/Representing Evil: Evil in an Interdisciplinary Key," "More Moral than God: Taking Responsibility for Religious Violence" and "Divine Becoming: Rethinking Jesus and Incarnation."

In spring 2009, Burns traveled to Egypt and Qatar as part of a delegation of American citizens invited by the National Peace Foundation and the Islamic Society of North America to participate in a people-to-people exchange program between the United States and countries in the Middle East.

Using the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and experiences she had in Egypt and Qatar, Burns has presented lectures relating to religious violence in the Middle East, examining theories about the causes of religious violence.

The Schoenfeld award is a wonderful affirmation of her work, Burns said. It also will make it possible for her to focus on a long-term research project, which will focus on rethinking the theological interpretations of evil and suffering in major religious traditions, given the evolutionary nature of the universe, she said.

Burns earned her bachelor's degree from Armstrong State College in Savannah, Ga., her master's degree from Loyola University in New Orleans, La., and her doctorate from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

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JB/DW

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