Northwestern College psychology prof to present at conferences

Dr. Laird Edman, professor of psychology at Northwestern College, will present his research at two upcoming conferences.

On April 20, Edman will present a lecture, “Is Religion a Human Construct? What the Cognitive Science of Religion Can Tell Us About Faith,” to the Faith and Science Fellowship at Wheaton College in Illinois. His talk will review methods and theories of the cognitive science of religion and explore some of the ways these theories have been used to explain away religious faith and challenge natural theology, or the idea that humankind can find God by looking at nature.

“I will talk about how the cognitive science of religion specifically, and scientific inquiry in general, need not be a source of anxiety for Christians,” says Edman. “If our theology is about recognizing God as the God of all creation and all truth, and science as a gift from God to enable us to discover more about reality, then knowledge and inquiry are good things.”

The next day, Edman will act as a respondent on a panel presentation at the Midwest Psychological Association’s annual meeting in Chicago. The session, “Rethinking the College Student Experience From the Students’ Perspective,” will review research that illustrates the importance of listening to the student voice when designing instructional and institutional practices.

“Faculty place importance on liberal arts and students place greater value on developing transferable skills,” says Edman. “This session will examine this discrepancy and review methods faculty can use to narrow this gap in expectations.”

Before joining Northwestern’s faculty in 2002, Edman taught at the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Waldorf and Luther College. In addition to earning a Teacher of the Year award from Waldorf, Edman received Northwestern’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2008 and held the Northwestern College Endowed Professorship from 2011 to 2016.

A graduate of Luther College, Edman earned master’s degrees in English literature and counseling psychology at the University of Notre Dame. He holds a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota.