Creating Promising Futures Through Social Construction
326 Dawnbrook Drive
Flat Rock, NC 28731
Director emeritus, Trinity Institute, Trinity Church, Wall Street
Senior Fellow, Institute for Servant Leadership
Senior Fellow, Cathedral College, Washington National Cathedral
Chairman, Editorial Advisory Board, ExploreFaith.org
Dr. Burnham retired in 2004 as Director of Trinity Institute, a program for the continuing theological education of clergy and laity sponsored by the Parish of Trinity Church, New York City. He was educated at Harvard College (BA), the Episcopal Divinity School, (MDiv), Cambridge University in England (Diploma in the History and Philosophy of Science), and The Johns Hopkins University, where he received a PhD in the History of Science. He also holds an honorary degree from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He writes and lectures on the intersection of religion, science, and culture.
Dr. Burnham began his career as a Professor of the History of Science at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where he also served as a Dean of Graduate Studies. In 1978 he became the President of The Association of Episcopal Colleges until he moved to Trinity Church Wall Street in 1984 to become Director of Trinity Institute.During his 20-year tenure at Trinity Institute, Dr. Burnham broadened the Institute’s conference audience by inaugurating The Episcopal Cathedral Teleconferencing Network (ECTN), an interactive satellite-broadcasting medium that reached over 600 satellite-downlink communities in all 50 states.
The climax of Dr. Burnham’s career began on 9/11/01. His office was less than a block south of ground zero. During the terrorist attack he narrowly escaped death. The event changed Dr. Burnham’s life dramatically. He threw himself into the recovery effort, becoming a night supervisor at the relief ministry for emergency workers that emerged at St. Paul’s, a chapel of Trinity Church. During the prior twenty years, Dr. Burnham had been studying the revival of relational ontology in the exciting new sciences of chaos, complexity, emergence, and networks. In the early stages of the relief effort at ground zero, Dr. Burnham recognized that the spontaneous manner in which the emergency operations self-organized both in the pit and at St. Paul’s Chapel were perfect models of “robust” networks, the term scientists use to describe complex relational systems. Dr. Burnham is now writing and speaking extensively on the application of the concepts of Network Theory and relational ontology to human organizations.
In retirement Dr. Burnham has become a Senior Fellow of the Bennett J. Sims Institute for Servant Leadership in Hendersonville, NC, where he shares responsibility for several of the Institute’s program initiatives. He has developed a “Relational Leadership Curriculum” for the transformation of human communities based upon a synthesis of the leadership theories of Marshall Ganz, Otto Scharmer, and Jesus. The curriculum is grounded in a relational ontology drawn from a variety of disciplines including contemporary theology, sociology, psychology, and science.
Dr. Burnham is married and has two grown sons. His wife, Regan, also recently retired from the Master’s School in Dobbs Ferry, New York, where she served as an Assistant Academic Dean and instructor in World Religions. She is also a licensed Hospital Chaplain. He and Regan now live in their “tree house” in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.