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Todd LeVasseur

Visiting Instructor

Address: 4B Glebe Street, Rm 206
Office Hours: MW 12:00 - 2:00 or by appointment
Phone: 843.953.3911
E-mail: levasseurtj@cofc.edu


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.

I recognize that as a teacher who is given authority to shape young minds and who will inevitably influence the maturation and development of young scholars, the ideas I present and how I present them should not lead students to harm. Rather, what and how I teach should lead to questing for truth and knowledge that can be put towards health: the health of the student in their personal development; the health of the classroom, the campus community, and the larger environment of which the campus is part; and the health still of even larger communities. In so doing, I take to heart Tweed's suggestion that teaching and learning is about presenting both old and new knowledge in fresh ways that engages, transforms, challenges, and edifies.

My research interests vary across the entire spectrum of the study of religion, from the phenomenology of ritual to material religion to lived religion as a theoretical trope. My secondary area of expertise is North American  Religious History, so in one respect I am an Americanist. My primary area of expertise is the field of "Religion and Nature," and my dissertation explores what I call "religious agrarianism." Whithin this primary area I am interested in religion and nature theory; how religious beliefs and practices influence environmental values and perceptions and vice versa; religion as an adaptive or maladaptive force in the more-than-human world; and the growing response from various religions to the climate crisis and extinction crisis.


Education

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


Research Interests

  • 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
  • Mysticism
  • Sociology of Religion
  • Religion and Science

Courses Taught


Publications

"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