Edman presents papers at conferences

Dr. Laird EdmanDr. Laird Edman, professor of psychology at Northwestern College, coordinated and spoke at a recent symposium, “Current Directions in the Cognitive Science of Religion,” at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C.

The symposium was chaired by Dr. Sally Oakes Edman, Northwestern’s director of counseling services. Laird Edman spoke on “Theory of Mind and the Experience of Supernatural Agents.” Corey Kundert, a 2017 Northwestern psychology graduate who is now pursuing a master’s degree in counseling at Appalachian State University, presented “Promiscuous Teleology: From Childhood Through Adulthood and From West to East.” Also part of the symposium was Dr. Sandie Hoover-Kinsinger, a former Northwestern faculty member who now teaches at Augustana University.

Laird Edman also presented a paper at the annual meeting of the International Association for the Psychology of Religion in Norway Aug. 21–24. He spoke on “Mentalizing, Prayer Experiences and Agentic Evil: Cross-Cultural Evidence.” His paper was written with Kundert; Kirsten Lesage, a 2013 Northwestern graduate who is pursuing a doctorate at the University of California-Riverside; Molly Townsend, a 2017 Northwestern alumna who is a live-in assistant and direct support professional at L’Arche in Chicago; and 2016 Northwestern graduate Jacob Vermeer, who is a graduate student at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Edman, who received Northwestern’s Teaching Excellence Award last May and in 2008, is on a leave of absence this year, translating research and theory in the cognitive science of religion for use in the Christian church. The primary output of the project will be a book written for church leaders, but the project also includes other writing as well as preparations for a pastor’s conference on this topic. His work, conducted with Dr. Myron Penner from Trinity Western University, is funded by a $228,500 grant from the Templeton Religion Trust.

Before joining Northwestern’s faculty in 2003, Edman taught at the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Waldorf and Luther College. In addition to winning teaching awards at Waldorf and Iowa State, Edman 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.