Buddhist East Asia:   The Interplay of Religion, the Arts and Politics

An NEH Summer Institute ~ May 28 to June 22, 2018 ~ Honolulu, Hawaii ~ Hosted by the Asian Studies Development Program

Buddhist East Asia:  The Interplay of Religion, The Arts and Politics
An NEH Summer Institute

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Participant Bio

There are 25 participants selected for Buddhist East Asia Summer Institute. Each participant is featured here.
Angelina D. Avedano explores mythic approaches to real-world experiences of suffering, transformation, and the creative process. Angelina earned a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School (HDS), a Master of Arts in English from Boston College, and a PhD in Mythological Studies with emphasis in depth psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute (PGI). Originally from the Midwest, Angelina is now a tenure-track professor at Massasoit Community College. She is planning to develop a theme-based Advanced College Writing course focused on Buddhist East Asian materials, as well as strengthening interdisciplinary studies and diversity at Massasoit  Community College in Brockton, Massachusetts.
Jesse W. Butler is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Central Arkansas, where he teaches courses in philosophy of mind, critical thinking, philosophy of language, and philosophy for living. His research focuses on theories of self-knowledge. More recently, Dr. Butler has turned his interests toward cross-cultural comparative philosophy. Through this NEH summer institute, Dr. Butler aims to develop a module on Buddhist conceptions of mind and self for his philosophy of mind course, as well as to investigate the application of Buddhist thought to his current research on self / environment relations and the cultivation of ecological self-understanding.
Melissa Croteau
Victor J. Forte, M.S., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Asian Studies at Albright College in Reading, PA. I teach courses on Buddhist Studies, Asian Religions, Asian Film and Culture, and Religion and the Environment. My main research interests are in Buddhist ethics, comparative philosophy, and Japanese religion. My main goals for the NEH program is to expand my course offerings to include more material on political and artistic influences in East Asian Buddhism.
Julie Hiebert, Ph.D., adjunct professor, department of Religious & Theological Studies, St. Edward's University, Austin, Tx. Expertise in South Asian Studies, particularly religions and arts. Teach Asian religions as well as Abrahamic religions at St. Edward's. To accomplish: learn a lot and thus fill gaps in my Buddhism knowledge & enjoy being a part of what promises to be an intellectually stimulating, diverse, and fun group of people.

Jesús M. Ilundáin-Agurruza

Daniel G. Jenkins is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Montgomery College. In Fall of 2017, he was Visiting Professor at Xi'an University of Arts and Sciences in Xi'an, China. Professor Jenkins specializes in applied ethics and teaches a variety of introductory-level philosophy courses. In the NEH Summer Institute he hopes to create additional course content focused on Buddhism in modern China.
Leah E. Kalmanson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa). My research interests lie in East Asian philosophies and postcolonial theory. I regularly teach classes on Buddhism, Chinese philosophies, continental philosophy, and philosophy of art. Through my participation in NEH Buddhist East Asia, I hope to revise my existing Introduction to Buddhism course, develop ideas for a new upper-level class in Buddhist philosophy, and further my research interests in the intellectual history of East Asian scholarly traditions, institutions, and methodologies.
Nancy A. Khalil is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration whose one-year fellowship will focus on the racialization of Islam. Her current research is on the politics of American Islam, with an emphasis on the profession of the Imam in America. After completing her fellowship at Yale, she will participate in the LSA Collegiate Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor before joining Michigan’s department of American Culture as Assistant Professor.  While at the East-West Center, Dr. Khalil will design a syllabus using ethnographies to teach a course on religion in the United States.  
Shereen Masoud is a PhD student and Instructor in the Religion department at Temple University. She teaches courses, with subject ranging from the fundamentals of different world religions, to the relationship between religion and society in global sociopolitical contexts. Her research explores the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality in Muslim communities as they relate to the phenomenon of Islamophobia in particular as it affects the diasporas of North America. She is excited to participate in the Institute and looks forward to bringing new perspectives back to her classroom, as well as to the way she looks at and conducts her own research. 
Sarah Mattice is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of North Florida. I specialize in Comparative and East Asian Philosophy, especially early China, and I regularly teach courses such as Chinese Philosophy, Japanese Philosophy, and Introduction to Buddhism. I am especially interested in the interdisciplinary approach to East Asian Buddhism in this NEH seminar, and am hoping to create a new Religious Studies course from my participation in the program. 
James E. McRae holds a Ph.D. in comparative philosophy from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa with specializations in ethics and Japanese thought.  He currently serves as Professor of Asian Philosophy and Religion and Vice-Chair of the Faculty at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.  His scholarly interests include comparative environmental ethics, normative ethics, Japanese Buddhism, the Kyoto school, and the bushido tradition. He hopes that his participation in the NEH Buddhist East-Asia Summer Institute will inform his current research projects on Japanese Buddhism and help him to develop new courses to enrich the Asian Studies offerings at his college.
Matthew S. Mitchell is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Allegheny College. He graduated from the Asian Religions Track of Duke University's Graduate Program in Religion.  His work is on early modern Japanese religions. His dissertation focused on a group of Buddhist nuns of the Daihongan sub-temple of Zenkōji in Japan’s early modern period.  He got his MA from the Religion Department of the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.  At the NEH workshop, he is interested in learning more about Buddhism in China and Korea. He plans to update his Buddhism syllabi.
Lara M. Mitias
Heather M. Murray is a Senior Lecturer of History at the University of North Georgia. She teaches Early and Modern American and World History classes and both in-class and online sections of The History of World Religions. Her research focus is in WWII-era New South and Appalachian History. During her time at the institute, she is looking forward to broadening her knowledge of Buddhist migrations out of Southeast Asia as she works on her research of Buddhist communities in the North American Appalachian region. 
Willy F. Ramirez is an Assistant Professor of English at Middlesex Community College. He earned a M.A. in Spanish and Latin America Literature and Cultures (NYU). He teaches composition courses, Introduction to Humanities, and an IDS First Year Experience class. His teaching and research interests include themes of race, discrimination, political discourse, comparative literature. In the NEH Summer Institute, he hopes to expand his knowledge of Buddhism and how it has influenced cultures and literary traditions outside of Asia.
Robert H. Scott, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Georgia, where he teaches Ethics from a Global Perspective, Environmental Ethics, and Continental Philosophy. His research focuses on phenomenology and environmental ethics, and in his recent work he develops a phenomenological theory of ecological responsibility. He currently serves as the President of the Georgia Philosophical Society. During the Buddhist East Asia program his goals are to research connections between phenomenology and Buddhist philosophy and to develop an upper level comparative Philosophy of Religion course which he plans to teach in the spring semester of 2019.
Tani H. Sebro is an Assistant Professor of Global and Intercultural Studies at Miami University. She is a political ethnographer who studies the interaction between migration, performance, and politics amongst Burmese refugees. Her research and teaching interests span the subdisciplines of political ethnography, critical political theory, performance theory, mobilities studies, aesthetics and international relations with a particular emphasis on refugee politics along the Thai-Myanmar border. During the NEH Summer Institute, she hopes to gain a deeper perception of Buddhist aesthetics and politics for a book project. She also looks forward to knowledge and intellectual community at the summer institute to enrich her home institution's curriculum offerings in Asian Studies. 
Kora Smith, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Black Hawk College. She teaches ethics, logic, and other introductory philosophy and humanities courses; her research interests focus on the metaphysics of personal identity.  She plans to integrate more Buddhist ideas into her courses and gain a better understanding of Buddhist no-self views in order to strengthen contemporary analytic arguments for a no-self view.
Susana L. Sosa is an art history instructor at Fresno Community College in Central California where she teaches a range of art history and film courses.  My primary area of specialization is European art, and my goal by participating in the Institute is to strenghthen my understanding of Buddhism in order to better understand how it has impacted artistic practices and styles for my teaching of Asian art and film.
Susan Spencer is a Professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma, where she teaches British and World Literature.  She also serves as the Director of Global Initiatives for UCO's College of Liberal Arts.  With her Research Assistant, Anh Dinh, she is working on an article on Nguyễn Du’s 19th-century masterpiece, The Tale of Kiều, a literary epic that retains a central status in spiritual as well as literary life in Vietnam.   They hope to expand the essay into a larger project in the future, and the content of this summer's Institute will help ground that project in the poem's Buddhist underpinnings.
Nicholas J. Steneck is an Associate Professor of History and the American Director of the Confucius Institute at Wesleyan College. I am a modern European historian who specializes in early-Cold War German and military history. In addition to Europe, my regular teaching rotation includes courses on East Asia, the Middle East, terror and terrorism, and contemporary America. I am looking forward to learning more about Buddhism, a topic which features prominently in many of the history courses I teach but about which I know very little. My specific goal is to redesign three courses I teach to include greater focus on Buddhism and its influence on early-modern and modern East Asia.
Mark P. Wells is a Visiting Lecturer at Mount Holyoke College. He specializes in ethics and political philosophy and teaches courses on applied ethics, social and political philosophy, classical Chinese philosophy, and the meaning of life. At NEH Buddhist East Asia, I hope to continue learning about Buddhism, especially as it pertains to politics, so as to diversify my courses and foster student appreciation of philosophical traditions outside of the Western canon.
Kyoim Yun is an associate professor of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Kansas. I have taught courses on Korean shamanism, anthropology, history (colonial and postcolonial), and popular cultures of East Asia. During the four-week institute, I aim to develop a new course titled “Happiness in East Asia” and to strengthen my on-going ethnographic research on the emerging role of Korean Buddhism in promoting hope and optimism among the laity in the context of the prevailing therapeutic ethos of South Korea, a society in which resistance to professional help for mental health issues is prevalent.
Fei Zhao is a Ph.D student in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington. I work on the history and philosophy of early Indian Buddhist schools. I am also interested in the history of the transmission of Buddhism to early medieval China. By participating in the NEH Summer Institute, I would like to know more about East Asian Buddhism and in the meantime, to learn from other undergraduate educators' teaching experiences, which will help me grow as a teacher.