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First Annual CTNS Student Fellowships Announced

On October 8, 2004 , in coordination with the Annual J. K. Russell Research Conference events of The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, founder and director, Robert J. Russell, surprised two doctoral students by revealing their names as the first Graduate Student Fellowship recipients! Doctoral students, Nathan John Hallanger and Nancy Wiens St. John were chosen on the basis of their ability to do promising research on issues of theology and science.

A long-time goal of the Center was finally realized with the establishment of this fund in the autumn of 2003. The CTNS Board of Directors chose to use the occasion of the CTNS -hosted conference on the work of Ian G. Barbour in October 2003 to kick start this fund. As the “father and pioneer of the current science and religion dialog”, Ian's desire was to encourage budding graduate students in theology and science.

Application to this year's competition was open to students in any area of study in the Graduate Theological Union doctoral program whose research focuses on theology and science. Students were invited to submit their curriculum vitae, a sample of their best writing in theology and science, and a statement of 1000 words about their research topic and methodology. This year, two awards of $500 each were made: one for a student who is working on their comprehensive exams at an advanced level (the equivalent of the "special comprehensive exams" in the Area of Systematic and Philosophical Theology) and one who has finished their comprehensive exams and is working on their dissertation or dissertation proposal. The awards were given on the basis of academic excellence. A committee of scholars reviewed the applications and selected the above students.

To date, nearly $26,000 towards a goal of $50,000 has been raised. CTNS hopes to continue to build up this fund, so the principal can remain intact while the interest is used for future annual student fellowship awards.

CTNS Student Fellowship recipients, Nancy Wiens St. John (L), Nathan Hallanger (R) and Robert J. Russell, CTNS Founder and Director (center).

 

Nathan John Hallanger, the recipient of the comprehensive exam level award, came to the GTU with a B.A. Summa Cum Laude from Augustana College , South Dakota and an M. T. S from Harvard Divinity School . He had also completed overseas studies at the Central and East European Studies Program, Prague , Czech Republic . His languages include Russian, Czech, Sahidic Coptic, French and German. Since entering the GTU he has had numerous teaching and lecturing opportunities, he has written articles for the Encyclopedia of Religion and the CTNS journal Theology and Science , and his resume includes four honors and awards and a variety of professional leadership experiences.

Nathan's special comprehensive examinations in the area of systematic and philosophical theology cover three topics: atonement, the theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg, and theodicy in evolution. The overall focus of the exams is on the challenge to interpret theologically the history of extinction and predation on earth. Nathan uses the methodology offered by Pannenberg in order to engage the natural sciences in dialogue with theology. He then turns to three contemporary theodicies to assess their contributions to the problem: process theodicy (vis. Marjorie Suchocki), free-will theodicy (vis. Alvin Plantinga), and soul-making theodicy (vis. John Hick). He concludes with a theology of the cross which points to God's suffering with the cruciform quality of evolution.

Nancy Wiens St. John, recipient of the dissertation level award, wrote her undergraduate thesis in international relations at the University of East Anglia , England and completed her B.A. in psychology and political science, Summa Cum Laude at the University of Redlands, California, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa . She received her M.Div. Magna Cum Laude from Chandler School of Theology, Georgia and her diploma in the art of spiritual direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary before entering the GTU. Her current program is in Interdisciplinary Studies where she is focusing on the interaction between Christian spirituality, ritual studies, and theology and science. She has had a variety of teaching experiences including a GTU course supported by a Newhall Fellowship and teaching assistantships at SFTS. Her pastoral experience includes a decade as a spiritual director and as associate pastor for the Presbyterian Church of Novato, California.

Nancy 's dissertation proposal addresses the relationship between Christian spiritual discernment and nature as understood through evolutionary biology and physical cosmology. Her work draws on the writings of Arthur Peacocke and Nancey Murphy on emergence in nature, the Trinitarian theology of Karl Rahner and Catherine LaCugna, pneumatology by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen , and Philip Hefner's theological anthropology as it is informed by the human sciences. Her inclusion of nature in a dissertation on discernment broadens historical approaches to God's revelation beyond the conventional focus on human-divine relationship to include the revelatory movement of the Holy Spirit in and through the natural world and our relation to it. Her dissertation attempts to offer a two-way relationship between Christian spirituality and science that 1) yields a robust pneumatology of nature reconstructed in the context of the natural sciences and including its new implications for spiritual discernment and 2) proposes a path from Christian spirituality back to science that suggests how a revised spirituality, informed by science, might point in creative ways to otherwise unnoticed philosophical influences within scientific research programs.

The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences is an international non-profit membership organization dedicated to research, teaching and public service. The mission of CTNS is to promote the creative mutual interaction between theology and the natural sciences.

CTNS Launches new Graduate Student Fellowship for Science & Theology Students

September 16, 2004

CTNS announces the launching of its new Graduate Student Fellowship for GTU doctoral students pursuing research in theology and science.  Students in any Area of the GTU doctoral program whose research focuses on theology and science are eligible to apply.  This year two awards of $500 each will be made: one for a student who is working on their comprehensive exams at an advanced level (the equivalent of the "special comprehensive exams" in the Area of Systematic and Philosophical Theology) and one who has finished their comprehensive exams and is working on their dissertation or dissertation proposal. The awards will be given on the basis of merit : students must clearly demonstrate their ability to do promising research on issues of theology and science. 

Application: Students should submit their curriculum vitae , a sample of their best writing in theology and science, and a statement of 1000 words about their research topic and methodology.   The application must be submitted to the CTNS office (GTU Annex building) before 5:00 pm Wednesday, September 29, 2004.  Please include three copies of all submitted material. 

The awards will be announced during the CTNS Research Public Forum in the PSR Chapel beginning at 7:00 pm on Friday, October 8, 2004.  

Questions should be addressed via email to Professor Robert John Russell.

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