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Gene Burns, Ph.D.

Gene  Burns
  • Professor
  • Faculty
  • Case Hall Room N367
  • 842 Chestnut Rd
  • East Lansing, MI 48825
  • 401-684-8823 (text/voice)


Professor Burns' research interests include reproductive politics, the politics of religion, moral conflict and social movements. He also teaches social policy and social theory. He was awarded a fellowship to the Annenberg Scholars Program in 1995-96 and is the author of The Frontiers of Catholicism: The Politics of Ideology in a Liberal World and of The Moral Veto: Framing Contraception, Abortion and Cultural Pluralism in the United States. In 2004, he was a recipient of the Mid-Michigan Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.


Gene Burns and Ross Emmett led a new short study abroad course, “Study in the U.S. and London,” MC 380, Social Policy, at the end of spring semester 2013. The course was a special, comparative version of MC 380, Social Policy, a core course in the SRP major and also a “policy” course in STEPPS (Science, Technology, Environment, and Public Policy Specialization) and will also be offered in the spring of 2014.  It is aimed particularly at students who would otherwise be unlikely to have a chance to study abroad and is generously subsidized by the Office of the Provost and James Madison College. The course is a new experimental study model for courses that are partly on campus and partly abroad.

Gene Burns presented the talk "The First Amendment in the Context of Expanding Diversity and Medical Advances," as a panelist in a program “Pluralism and Health Care Benefits Bump into the First Amendment: What’s a Democracy to Do?” at the University Club at MSU in March 2012.

Professor Gene Burns, was an invited participant at an international colloquium at the Yale University European Studies Council in September 2011. His talk was titled "Making Frenemies: The Legacy of Church-State Conflicts."

Professor Gene Burns presented a paper titled, "Remembering that Politics Shapes Religion: Contesting the Religion-State Boundary in the Contemporary U.S.," at a joint session of the American Sociological Association and the Association for the Sociology of Religion in New York, in August 2007

Gene Burns received the 2006 Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association's Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movement for his book, The Moral Veto: Framing Contraception, Abortion, and Cultural Pluralism in the United States [Cambridge University Press, 2005].

Professor Burns presented a paper entitled "Voice, Exit, and Moving to the Margin: How Sex Trumps Catholic Doctrine," at the annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society (Washington DC, March 2005).

Gene Burns published his book in April entitled, The Moral Veto: Framing Contraception, Abortion, and Cultural Pluralism in the United States (Cambridge University Press, 2005).