Assistant Professor and Program Director, Environmental Studies Program
Office Hours: TR 12:00 - 1:00 or by appointment
Todd LeVasseur earned his PhD (2011) in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida, where he studied religion and nature, environmental ethics, and North American religious history. An alumnus of the College of Charleston, he returned to his alma mater to teach during the 2010-12 academic years.
In his own words
The Indian biologist and philosopher of science Meera Nanda has created a version of the "Hippocratic Oath," but for public intellectuals. It reads as follows: "Ideas have consequences. Those of us who trade in ideas have a responsibility to ensure that our ideas should do no harm." In a similar spirit, the religion scholar Thomas Tweed made the following statement about education: "When it's effective, teaching—and learning—means moving back and forth between the familiar and the strange, and the familiarization of the other generates a limited but transformative empathy, which is one mark of the educated person, the humane neighbor, and the effective citizen. Teaching—and learning—is transport that transforms." My teaching philosophy is thoroughly shaped by these two quotes. In my classes I invite students to explore how “religion” interacts with, shapes, and is shaped by politics; economics; issues of race, class, and gender; and colonialism and imperialism, past and present. It is a quasi-truism that religion is everywhere, and shapes everything, and my courses hope to introduce students to this realization of the importance of religion in everyday life around the world.
In terms of research interests, I study the interface of religious beliefs/experiences/institutional identities/practices (and cultural narratives and identities, broadly), and how these both shape and are shaped by the natural, "more-than-human" world. The overarching research question that guides my scholarly path is how can the human animal, from individual to global scales, learn to actively generate just, sustainable lifeways as we move into the anthropocene?
2011—Ph.D, "Religion and Nature," Department of Religion, University of Florida
2005—M.Sc. Human Ecology, Centre for Human Ecology, Scotland
2001—Postgraduate Certificate in Ecophilosophy, Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University, Australia
1997—B.A. in Religious Studies, College of Charleston, with a Minor in Philosophy
- Religion and Nature/Ecology, including
- Religion and Agriculture/Food
- Religious responses to climate destabilization
- How religious belief and/or practice inhibits or helps attempts for sustainability
- American Religious Diversity
- American Religious History
- Religion and Animals
- Sociology of Religion
- Religion and Science
- HONS 281 Special Topics
- HONS 381 Religion and Science
- ENVT 200 Introduction to Environmental Studies
- ENVT 352 The Spirit of Sustainability
- ENVT 355 Internship in Environmental Studies
- ENVT 395 Environmental Studies Capstone - Food Security
- FYSM 134 Religion and Peace
- FYSM 160 Religion, Animals, and Animal Ethics
- RELS 101 Approaches to Religion- Madness, Ecstasy, and Samadhi- the religious quest for the 'divine'
- RELS 101 Approaches to Religion- Religions, Conflict & Peace
- RELS 105 World Religions
- RELS 210 Theiries in Study of Religion
- RELS 250 Religions in America
- RELS 298 Spirit of Sustainability
- RELS 298 Religion, Environmentalism, & the Natural World
- RELS 298 Religion and Animals
- RELS 298 Religion and Ecology
- RELS 298 Religion and Food
- RELS 298 Nature Spirituality, Ecotopia, and Applied Ecovillage Living - Flyer
Religions and Ecological Crisis: The Lynn White Thesis' at Fifty. Routledge, 2017, Edited by Todd LeVasseur and Anna Peterson. In 1967, Lynn White, Jr.’s seminal article The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis was published, essentially establishing the academic study of religion and nature. This collection of original essays by leading scholars in a variety of interdisciplinary settings, including religion and nature, environmental ethics, animal studies, ecofeminism, restoration ecology, and ecotheology, considers the impact of White’s arguments, offering constructive criticism as well as reflections on the ongoing, ever-changing scholarly debate about the way religion and culture contribute to both environmental crises and to their possible solutions. Religion and Ecological Crisis addresses a wide range of topics related to White’s thesis, including its significance for environmental ethics and philosophy, the response from conservative Christians and evangelicals, its importance for Asian religious traditions, ecofeminist interpretations of the article, and which perspectives might have, ultimately, been left out of his analysis.
Religion and Sustainable Agriculture: World Spiritual Traditions and Food Ethics. The University Press of Kentucky, 2016, Edited by Todd LeVasseur, Pramod Parajuli, and Norman Wirzba. In this wide-ranging collection, eminent scholars, theologians, activists, and lay farmers illuminate how religious beliefs influence and are influenced by the values and practices of sustainable agriculture. Together, they analyze a
multitude of agricultural practices for their contributions to healthy, ethical living and environmental justice. Throughout, the contributors address current critical issues, including global trade agreements, indigenous rights to land and seed, and the effects of postcolonialism on farming and industry. Covering indigenous, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish perspectives, this groundbreaking volume makes a significant contribution to the study of ethics and agriculture.
"Sustainability Effort Takes Shape at CofC." College of Charleston Magazine, 2016.
"Methane Dispensers and Bio-Dynamic Beings: Cattle as Polysemous Symbols in Environmental Religious Discourse." European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment, 2016.
"Toward resilient food systems through increased agricultural diversity and local sourcing in the Carolinas." Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 2015.
"Pope Francis challenges ideologues on climate change." The Post And Courier, 2015.
“Agrarianism.” The SAGE Encyclopedia of Food Issues, Ed. Ken Albala. SAGE Reference, 2015.
“Deforestation for Agriculture.” The SAGE Encyclopedia of Food Issues, Ed. Ken Albala. SAGE Reference, 2015.
"A “Green” Kataphatic Theology: The Ecospirit of Springbank Retreat Center in Kingstree, South Carolina." Journal of the Sociology and Theory of religion. Vol. 3 (2014)
"Roundtable on Climate Destabilization and the Study of Religion Introduction." Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Vol. 83 (2015)
“The Earth Is sui generis”: Destabilizing the Climate of Our Field." Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Vol. 83 (2015)
“Is Trash Hybrid?” Green Humanities, vol. 1 (2015),pp. 75-103
"Teaching Sustainability via the Environmental Humanities: Studying Water, Studying Ourselves." Journal of Sustainabiity Education. Vol. 7 (2014).
"Environmental Philosophy in a Post-Ice Cap North Polar World." Journal of Environmental Ethics, 2014
"Defining “Ecolinguistics?”: Challenging Emic Issues in an Evolving Environmental Discipline" Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer. 2014.
"Koinonia Partners: A Demonstration Plot For Food, Fellowship, And Sustainability." Religion, Food, And Eating In North America. 2014. pg. 253. Ch. 13.
"Globalizing the Ecovillage Ideal; Networks of Empowerment, Seeds of Hope." Environmental Anthropology Engaging Ecotopia: Bioregionalism, Permaculture, and Ecovilliages, editors Joshua Lockyer and James Veteto (2013).
With Lucas Johnston, “Indigenous and Traditional Resource Management” in The Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability: Natural Resources and Sustainability
“The Environment Contains no ‘Right’ and ‘Left’: Navigating Ideology, Religion, and Views of the Environment in Contemporary American Society.” Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 11, issue 33 (Winter 2012)
"We Are What We Don't Eat: Worms, Bacteria, and the Soil Under Us" Parasites, Worms, and the Human Body in Religion and Culture, editors Misha Tadd and Brenda Gardenour (2012).
“The Production of Post-Supernaturalistic Mythopoesis in Contemporary Nature Religion.” Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion, vol. 16.1 (2012).
“Shame, Ritual and Beauty: Technologies of Encountering the Other--Past, Present, and Future" in Placing Nature on the Borders of Religion, Philosophy and Ethics
“From Fall to Redemption.” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. Volume 21, Issue 6, 2008, pg. 597. Review Essay