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CTNS Announces the 2007
Charles H. Townes Graduate Student Fellowships

Berkeley, CA, May 4, 2007—The 2007 awardees of the Charles H. Townes Student Fellowship, Whitney Bauman and Joshua Moritz were announced on April 19 by Robert John Russell, CTNS Founder and Director.
The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) established the Graduate Student Fellowship in 2005 in order to help support doctoral students at the Graduate Theological Union working in science and theology. 2007 student fellows

Whitney Bauman holds a Master of Theological Studies with an emphasis on Ecological Concerns from Vanderbilt Divinity School. The editorial assistant for several of Professor Russell’s publications, he also served as the first Managing Editor of the CTNS journal, Theology and Science. Whitney is a member of the Steering Committee of the Theological Roundtable on Ecological Ethics and Spirituality, and in the fall of 2004 was a teaching assistant for the course, “Eco-Feminist Theology and Ethics,” taught by Rosemary Radford Ruether.

Whitney will defend his doctoral dissertation this May, titled, “From Creation Ex Nihilo to Terra Nullius: The Colonial Mind and the Colonization of Creation.” Whitney argues that the doctrine of creation ex nihilo can function in legitimating colonization of the land. It wrongly leads us to treat the earth as terra nullius, “no man's land” and thus serves to authorize us to claim it for our own, resulting in violence toward humans and non-humans alike. His hope is that colonialism such as this can be mitigated through a reformulation of the Christian symbol of creation which is attentive to both its location in discourse, and its discursive effects, and which recognizes the agency, prior presence and the truth claims of the “other.”  His dissertation committee includes Rosemary Radford Ruether, Marion Grau, and Carolyn Merchant. 

Joshua Moritz comes to the GTU with a BS in biology and BA’s in classical languages and European/Near Eastern history from Calvin College. He completed an MA in theology and science at the GTU in 2003. He is Managing Editor of Dialog: A Journal of Theology and an editorial assistant for Dr. Russell’s current publications.

Joshua's special comprehensive exams will explore two interconnected questions: What roles have theological, philosophical, and scientific concepts of non-human animals and animal nature played, and what role do they continue to play in the theology of human self-understanding? And conversely, what role does theological anthropology play in our theological, philosophical, and scientific understanding of animals and animal nature?

The historical portion of the exam will look at the history of the imago dei and theological anthropology in relation to theological and philosophical understandings of animals and animal nature, including the question of animal suffering and redemption. To what extent have theological notions of human uniqueness and the imago dei resulted in anthropocentric attitudes, violence and hostility towards the animal world? For the second part of the exam, Joshua's major figure is Wolfhart Pannenberg as he engages the natural sciences with a focus on theological anthropology. The contemporary theological problem he will explore will be how to conceive of human and animal natures within neo-Darwinian evolutionary biology which has largely abandoned essentialism. Joshua will conclude by exploring a lesser-known theoretical framework, Biological Structuralism (or Process Structuralism).

The CTNS Charles H. Townes Fellowship is for Graduate Theological Union doctoral students pursuing research in theology and science. Applicants need to be working on their comprehensive exams at an advanced level (the equivalent of the “special comprehensive exams” in the Area of Systematic and Philosophical Theology) or have finished their comprehensive exams and be working on their dissertation or dissertation proposal. The awards are given on the basis of merit:  students must clearly demonstrate their ability to do promising research on issues of theology and science. 

The Fellowship was renamed the Charles H. Townes Graduate Student Fellowship on September 16, 2006 in recognition of Dr. Townes' work with physics graduate students at UC Berkeley and for his generous and longstanding support of CTNS. Dr. Townes is a Nobel Laureate in Physics for his role in the discovery of the maser and laser, Professor of Physics in the Graduate School at UC Berkeley and a Templeton Prize Winner. Dr. Townes serves on the Advisory Board of the CTNS Program Science and Transcendence Advanced Research Series (STARS), was a participating scientist in the CTNS Program Science and the Spiritual Quest (SSQ), and has served for two decades on the CTNS Board of Directors. An expanded version of this announcement and tribute may be found at www.ctns.org/townes.html.

CTNS is seeking donations to support the fellowship fund, and has thus far raised $39,000 towards the goal of $50,000. Donations are accepted via the CTNS website at www.ctns.org, or via postal mail.

The Center’s excellent academic reputation has attracted a variety of graduate students to pursue masters and doctoral degrees at the GTU, with many of these graduates now in tenure track positions at universities and seminaries nationwide.

The CTNS mission is to promote the creative mutual interaction between theology and the natural sciences,  carried out through three program areas: research, teaching and public service. 

For more information, visit www.ctns.org, call 510-848-8152 or email bonniej@ctns.org.

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