The William Penn Honors Program
committee and teaching faculty represent a diverse range of subject expertise and research...

Honors Director 

Dr. Joseph Clair

Dr. Joseph Clair
Director of the Honors Program; Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
PhD, Princeton; MPhil, Cambridge; MA,
Fordham University; MTS, Duke; BA, Wheaton
Department webpage

Winner of the Princeton University Graduate Prize Fellowship from Princeton’s Center for Human Values (2012–2013) and also winner of the Department of Religion Teaching award from Princeton, Dr. Clair serves as director of the William Penn Honors Program. He holds a dual appointment as assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies. Before joining the George Fox University faculty in 2013, Clair spent four years at Princeton University completing his PhD in religion, ethics, and politics, while also working as an assistant in instruction in the school’s religion department. He was the recipient of the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship in 2008–2009, and his publications include a co-edited volume, Maritain and America (Catholic University Press of America, 2009) and essays in the Journal of Religious Ethics, Rethinking Secularization: Philosophy and the Prophecy of a Secular Age (Cambridge Scholars, 2009), and Science and Stewardship to Protect and Sustain Wilderness Values (USDA, 2007). His ongoing teaching and research interests include Christian thought, Christian ethics, religious and philosophical ethics, political theory, environmental ethics, ancient moral and political philosophy, and the role of religion in public life. 

Faculty Fellows

Dr. Corwynn Beals

Dr. Corwynn Beals
Honors Faculty Fellow; Professor of Philosophy and Religion
PhD, Fordham University; MAR, Yale Divinity School;
BA, George Fox University
Department webpage

Dr. Beals’ teaching and research interests are centered on relational metaphysics and epistemology embedded in the history of philosophy. His book, Levinas and the Wisdom of Love: The Question of Invisibility (Baylor University Press, 2007), analyzes the relationship between western philosophy and ethical invisibility, and two current projects, Philosophy of Creation Care (forthcoming, Baylor University Press) and Tasting Truth, explore various ways of accessing truth in an embodied manner. In 2009, he was invited to Stanford University to lecture on “Relational Metaphysics and the Pursuit of Invisibility,” and plans for further projects on this topic. Dr. Beals has taught philosophy seminars on Levinas, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Wendell Berry and Agrarian Phenomenology. He seeks to teach wisdom holistically, a trajectory that began with his article “Finding Phronimos: Making a Place for Practical Wisdom in the Classroom” (Teaching Philosophy, 2004). Dr. Beals has used his innovative and experiential teaching approach as part of the Creation Care Studies Program across the world, in locations such as New Zealand and Belize; he initiated the George Fox University community garden and chairs the university’s Creation Care Committee. 

Dr, Caitlin CorningDr. Caitlin Corning
Honors Faculty Fellow; Professor of History
PhD, University of Leeds; BA, Seattle Pacific University
Department webpage

A George Fox University Teacher of the Year (2002), Dr. Corning’s research explores Medieval church history, and particularly the relationship between the Roman and Celtic traditions in the sixth to eighth centuries AD. She also specializes in late-Roman history and controversies surrounding the construction of the ecclesiastical calendar, both ancient and modern. Her book, The Celtic and Roman Traditions: Conflict and Consensus in the Early Medieval Church (Palgrave-Macmillian, 2006), explores the reality of the Celtic traditions and the controversy over the correct date of Easter in this period. She has an article that will be published in Studia Traditionis Theologiae (Brepols) on the attempts since the 1960s to unite all Christians behind a single Easter date and a chapter for The Irish in Europe in the Early Middle Ages (Palgrave-Macmillian, forthcoming) on the social, cultural and political contexts of the Easter controversy on the Continent. Dr. Corning is an associate editor for Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe. She teaches courses on church history and theology, western civilization, classical and medieval history, modern Russia, modern Middle East, and public history.

Dr. Brian R. Doak

Dr. Brian R. Doak
Honors Faculty Fellow; Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies
PhD, Harvard University; MA, Missouri State University;
BA, Evangel University
Department webpage

An award-winning scholar and teacher (Aviram Prize in Archaeology, 2012; Derek Bok Center Certificate of Distinction, Harvard University, 2010) and recent recipient of the George Fox University Undergraduate Faculty Researcher of the Year award (2013–14), Dr. Doak’s teaching and research interests include the history, languages, and religions of the ancient Near Eastern world, the Old Testament, the Bible’s wisdom literature, and the role of monsters in ancient religious thought. He is the author of three books—most recently, Phoenician Aniconism in its Mediterranean and Ancient Near Eastern Contexts (SBL Press, 2015), which explores the meaning of non-figural and non-anthropomorphic divine images in Phoenician settlements between the ninth–fifth centuries BCE. Consider Leviathan: Narratives of Nature and Self in Job (Fortress, 2014) analyzes the book of Job as a site of theological self-making in the face of the natural world, and his first book, The Last of the Rephaim: Conquest and Cataclysm in the Heroic Ages of Ancient Israel (Ilex Foundation; via Harvard University Press, 2012) explores the intersection of motifs of heroism and gigantism in the Hebrew Bible. Dr. Doak has conducted archaeological field research with the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, Israel, and has recently published articles on Philistine funerary iconography in the Israel Exploration Journal, the Saul and David narrative in the Harvard Theological Review, the book of Judges in the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, and the book of Ezekiel in the Journal of Biblical Literature.

Dr. Abigail Rine Favale

Dr. Abigail Favale
Honors Faculty Fellow; Assistant Professor of English
PhD, University of St. Andrews (Scotland) 
MLitt, University of St. Andrews (Scotland); BA, George Fox University
Department webpage

A recipient of the competitive Overseas Research Award, Dr. Favale completed her doctorate at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she was a recipient of the competitive Overseas Research Award. In 2011, her dissertation was granted the Samuel Rutherford Prize for the most distinguished thesis in English literature. Dr. Favale’s first book, Irigaray, Incarnation and Contemporary Women’s Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2013), examines religious themes in the work of contemporary women novelists, positing literature as an ideal space for religious thinking, precisely because it is a realm that cultivates imagination, mystery and incarnation. This book was awarded the 2014 Feminist and Women's Studies Association Book Prize. Dr. Favale’s literary criticism has appeared in the academic journals Forum for Modern Language Studies and Journal of Gender Studies, as well as in volumes such as Sex, Gender and Time in Fiction and Culture (Palgrave, 2011) and Building a New World (Palgrave, 2015). In addition to her academic writing, she has published essays in a variety of venues, such as First Things, The Atlantic, and Geez Magazine, and short fiction in journals such as the Potomac Review, Talking River Review, and Melusine. Dr. Favale’s teaching interests span a wide range of world literature, both ancient and modern, and she is particularly interested in biblical literary criticism, Catholic Theology of the Body, and the intersection of theology and literary studies. On the home front, Abigail is wife to Michael, and mother to Julian and Margot. 

Dr. Mark David Hall

Dr. Mark David Hall
Honors Faculty Fellow; Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics
PhD, University of Virginia; BA Wheaton College
Department webpage

Dr. Hall’s primary interest lies at the intersection between Christianity, politics, and law in America. He has written, edited, or co-edited The Political and Legal Philosophy of James Wilson, 1742-1798 (1997), The Founders on God and Government (2004); Collected Works of James Wilson (2007), The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life (2009), The Sacred Rights of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American Founding (2009), America’s Forgotten Founders (2012), Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic (2013), Faith and the Founders of the American Republic (2014), Collected Works of Roger Sherman (forthcoming), Great Christian Jurists in American History (under contract) and more than fifty journal articles, book chapters, reviews, and sundry pieces. Mark is also a Senior Fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion and an Affiliate Scholar at the John Jay Institute.

Paul Otto

Dr. Paul Otto
Honors Faculty Fellow; Professor of History
PhD, Indiana University; MA at Western Washington University
BA at Dordt College
Department webpage

George Fox Scholar of the Year, 2010, Dr. Paul Otto is a historian with a keen interest in cultural and intellectual history. He has written an award-winning volume, The Dutch-Munsee Encounter in America (Berghan, 2006) and is working on a major study of early American material culture—Beads of Power: Wampum and the Shaping of Early America. Otto has a life-time commitment to Christian education having been involved as student, professor, and trustee at four different institutions of Christian higher learning. Adopting the Protestant Reformation’s call to semper reformanda, Otto continues to reform and improve his pedagogical technique ranging from the Socratic method of the William Penn honors seminars, to the use of student film-making to convey essential elements of historical texts, to employing complex role-playing games simulating major events in the American Revolution. In 2015-2016, Otto will be on sabbatical as a fellow at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina, but he will return in the fall of 2016 to co-teach HNRS 350, the rise of modernity.

Honors Committee Members

Dr. Corwynn Beals (Philosphy)
Dr. Jeff Birdsell (Communication Arts)
Dr. Joseph Clair (Philosophy and Theology)
Dr. Caitlin Corning (History)
Dr. Brian Doak (Biblical Studies)
Dr. Abigail Rine Favale (English)
Dr. Mark Hall (Political Science)
Dr. David Hansen (Computer Science)
Dr. Bill Jolliff (English)
Dr. Nate Peach (Business)
Dr. John Schmitt (Biology, Pre-med)
Prof. Mark Terry, MFA (Art)
Dr. Brent Weaver (Music)