Retiring psychology professor receives NWC Award for Excellence in Faith and Learning

Dr. Laird Edman Dr. Laird Edman, professor of psychology at Northwestern College, has been named the 2023 recipient of the college’s Faculty Excellence in Faith and Learning Award. He was honored during commencement exercises on May 13.

The award honors and encourages the calling and responsibility of Christian faculty to devote time and energy to scholarship and creative expression in ways that faithfully express the wonder, truth and beauty of God’s revelation in Scripture and creation. Northwestern’s academic deans and vice president for academic affairs selected Edman as the recipient from among faculty nominated by their colleagues.

Edman joined Northwestern’s faculty in 2003 and is retiring this year. He has pursued scholarship exploring the challenging questions around the relationship between psychology and Christian faith. He was a fellow in the Science and Religion: Scholarship & Christianity program at Oxford University, a collaborator in a Templeton Religion Trust grant designed to make research in the cognitive science of religion more accessible to Christian church leaders, and a co-leader for a Blankemeyer Foundation Grant titled “Conversations in Community: Faith and Science, Faith in Science, and Science of Faith.”

Edman recently co-authored an article on the theological implications of the cognitive science of religion in the Oxford Handbook to Cognitive Science of Religion. He is working on a book about how the cognitive science of religion can be used by the church.

“Dr. Edman has been a leader in the integration of faith and learning at NWC for most of his career,” wrote one nominator. “He has published regularly in journals that explore the relationship of psychology and Christianity. Laird has mentored new faculty in faith-learning integration and has presented on the topic in campus meetings. This focus of his scholarly work, and the consistent and high-profile ways in which he has pursued it, make him deserving of this award.”

The recipient of the Northwestern Teaching Excellence Award in 2008 and 2017, Edman also won teaching awards when he was on the faculty at Waldorf College and the Honors Program of Iowa State University. He held the Northwestern Endowed Professorship from 2011 to 2016.

Edman is a member of the American Psychological Association’s Council of Representatives. He earned a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota, master’s degrees in counseling psychology and English literature from the University of Notre Dame, and a bachelor’s degree in English literature and classics from Luther College.