A quick overview

DrJeffWilsonHello, and thank you for visiting my website.  My name is Jeff Wilson, and I am a professor of religious studies and East Asian studies and the Chair of the department of Culture and Languages for Renison University College, at the University of Waterloo.  Here I’d like to tell you something about my research, my undergraduate and graduate teaching, and my other professional activities.

A quick overview: I have written several books and numerous articles about the interaction of Buddhism and various aspects of North American culture.  I have also published pioneering research in the history of same-sex wedding ceremonies.  I teach courses on religion in North America, East Asian religion, and theory and method in religious studies at the University of Waterloo. I am highly active in the wider academy, especially at the American Academy of Religion, and do media appearances and radio interviews when I am able to provide an informed perspective on issues of religion in contemporary society.

I did my BA at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, with concentrations in creative writing, biology, and Buddhism.  After graduation I worked for several years in the non-profit world in various capacities, did occasional MA coursework with the Institute for Buddhist Studies and published a book on Buddhism in New York.  After moving to Chapel Hill, I decided to return to school full-time for my MA and PhD in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, with significant work done at nearby Duke University. I was on the American Religious History track at UNC, with coursework in Buddhism, Mormonism, Protestant theology, Fundamentalism, African-American Religion, Catholicism, Unitarianism, New Age religion, and more.  My training also included significant fieldwork in Japan and various parts of the United States.  In 2007 I had the opportunity to join the faculty of Renison University College, an associate institution of the University of Waterloo.  As such I contribute to the Religious Studies and East Asian Studies programs at UW, and have had the privilege of working closely with colleagues at Wilfrid Laurier University to deliver our joint PhD program in religious diversity in North America.  In 2016 I organized–with help from several colleagues–a new department of Culture and Language Studies at Renison, and I currently serve as the department’s founding Chair (on sabbatical until mid-2018).  I am willing to consider accepting new graduate students, on a limited and highly selective basis.

For more information, please explore this website or visit my Renison faculty page.


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