Religion grad student Shannon Dunn is awarded 2 prestigious national fellowships

Shannon Dunn, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Religion, has been awarded a highly selective $25,000 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship for 2011-2012.

She was also awarded a dissertation completion fellowship for 2011-2012 from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) – which she has had to decline because of rules restricting the acceptance of concurrent national fellowships. “But I am honored nonetheless,” Dunn said about the AAUW award.

To give an idea of how selective the Newcombe fellowships are, figures show that for the previous year (2010-2011), only 20 of 670 applicants were awarded fellowships. The Newcombe, administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, is intended for doctoral candidates in the final year of dissertation work on religious and ethical values.

“The Newcombe award will give me relief from teaching, which I need in order to finish my dissertation in a timely manner,” Dunn said. Dunn, who came to FSU in 2006 and hopes to finish by August 2012, specializes in comparative religious ethics, particularly Islamic and Christian ethics, with a sub-area of concentration in studies of gender and politics.

“The focus of my dissertation is gender justice in contemporary Islamic communities in the U.S.,” Dunn said. “In particular, I address how legal conceptions of gender within Islamic sharia and Western liberal political theory are problematic — albeit in different ways — with regard to the concept of private/public spheres.”

As a matter of fact, Dunn and fellow graduate student Rosemary Kellison earlier won an award for a journal paper they co-wrote about Muslim ethics and violence against women.

Dunn’s advisor is Professor John Kelsay, and she also works closely with Associate Professor Aline Kalbian, both of FSU’s religion department. “Shannon Dunn is a wonderful student,” Kelsay said, “and those of us working with her are very pleased that she has received this recognition.”

In turn, Dunn expressed her gratitude. “I am extremely grateful to the Woodrow Wilson foundation, as well as to the many people who have helped me to get to this place.”