Courses Designed and Taught

My courses, for both undergraduates and graduate students, are designed to be probing, engaging, and creative. They have been popular and featured favorites. Grounded in Religious Studies and Cultural Anthropology, I also draw on Ritual Studies, Art, and Literature. I use multi-media and organize my classes to appeal to a variety of learning styles. I especially encourage active engagement in classroom discussion, thought experiments, and hands-on workshops that profit from facilitated peer feedback.

Whether in the traditional classroom, online hybrid classes and guided virtual discussions, private Tutorials, or through extensive written feedback, I enable students to follow their own most gripping questions and encourage them to use the material to know – or change – their own minds.

Because my work is comparative in nature, the material I teach has ranged from ancient philosophy to contemporary religion in politics and media. While I specialize in West Africa and the African Diaspora in the Americas, my teaching draws on a multiplicity of other cases as well: Native North American healing traditions, Aztec sacrifice and ethics, Indonesian treatments of death, Sri Lankan pilgrimage, European masking traditions and the evolution of Halloween, Feasting and Fasting in medieval Christianity, dietary prescription in Judaism, and Chinese divination and magic, to name a few.

For 13 years I taught a workshop-style course, “Dissertation Formulation,” in which students developed a concept into a fully articulated research proposal. I designed my “Research” course  to help doctoral students work strategically, while offering techniques to overcome common psychological obstacles. (see Dissertation Coach/Editor page)

Teaching at Pacifica Graduate Institute

  • Graduate:
    African and African Diaspora Traditions
    Methodological Approaches and Contemporary Issues in Religious Studies
    Ritual and the Embodied Imagination (delivered in both residential session and in online platform)
    Research Strategies
    Dissertation Formulation
    Divination, Synchronicity & the Uncanny (designed syllabus)
    Myth, Gender and Power in Africa (designed syllabus)
  • Undergraduate:
    Comparative Religious Ethics: East, West and South
    Religions East and West: The Body
    Introduction to Religious Studies: Theory and Method
    The Construction of Religion and the Encounter of Cultures
    African Religions
    Vodou, Santería, Candomblé: Three Religions of the African Diaspora
    Ritual Masks of the World: Religious Meaning and Social Function
    The Myth and Ritual Process
    Saints & Sinners: The religious journey in film and literature
    Religious Autobiography & Biography
    Introduction to Global Studies (designed syllabus)

Presentation at Harvard Divinity School

 Center for the Study of World Religions, 2013