Associate Professor and Assistant DeanDepartment of Religious Studies
208 Monroe Hall
B.A., Reed College
M.A., University of Chicago
Ph.D., Brown University
As an Association Dean I have enjoyed working with College students to meet their academic advising needs. U.Va. students come from a wonderfully diverse set of backgrounds, but all are bright, inquisitive, and responsible. My main advice to students is to pursue what you love and success will follow. Liberal arts education is not training for a particular career path, but is an education for life. The skills that you will learn here to reason critically, think creatively, communicate clearly, research deeply, and work collaboratively will serve you in whatever endeavors you will pursue.
As a professor of Religious Studies, both here and elsewhere for nearly twenty years, I love to teach, and I have taught a range of courses in modern religious thought, social ethics, and comparative philosophy of religion. My current teaching and research interests have two foci, the American legacy of philosophy and religious thought and the African-American tradition of social criticism. The former focus is addressed in my course, RELC 3222: Protestants and Pragmatists, which explores the contrasts and connections among American thinkers including Edwards, Jefferson, Emerson, James, Niebuhr, Baldwin, and King. The latter focus is addressed in AAS/RELG 3200: Martin, Malcolm, and America, which examines the legacy of social protest from the early abolitionists to the Civil Rights Movement. I also enjoy teaching a similarly themed University Seminar or USEM for first year students, Religion and Race in Black America. My most recent writing has explored the religious dimensions of American pragmatic philosophy.
I have been happily married for twenty plus years to my wife, Leslie McPherson, a clinical social worker. We have two children, a son in college and a daughter in high school. I enjoy running, exploring the outdoors, listening to jazz, and traveling.