Alumni in Academia

Professor Jake Carbine served as ISLE Program Director during Fall 2012.
Professor Jake Carbine (middle) was an ISLE student and Program Assistant before serving as Resident Director for the Fall 2012 program.

Many ISLE alumni continue on to pursue higher degrees and careers in various academic fields. ISLE alumni who are currently teaching include:

Carol Anderson

Department of Religion
Kalamazoo College

Margaret (Meg) Berreth 
Assistant Professor, Midwives
School of Medicine
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Anne Blackburn
Department of South Asian & Buddhist Studies
Cornell University

Joshua Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy
Gustavus Adolphus College

Jason (Jake) Carbine
Associate Professor
Department of Religious Studies
Whittier College

James (Ted) Frisbie
Department of Philosophy
Colorado Mountain College

Shreena Gandhi
Visiting Professor
Department of Religion
Michigan State University 

Stephen Hughes
Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology
Department of Anthropology and Sociology
SOAS, University of London

Christine (Cricket) Keating
Associate Professor
Department of Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Ohio State University
 *Professor Keating served as Resident Director of the Spring 2013 program.

Jacob Kinnard
Professor of Comparative Religions
Iliff School of Theology
University of Denver, Colorado

Caitrin Lynch
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
Olin College of Engineering

Matthew Nelson
Reader in Politics
Department of Politics and International Studies
SOAS, University of London

Professor Nelson writes about the impact the ISLE Program has had on his academic and professional career:
I travelled to Sri Lanka with the ISLE programme in 1991, and it changed my life. As a nebraska native, I had never travelled overseas, but I was drawn to the ISLE programme for its interdisciplinary reach and its sterling reputation for academic rigor. I was also interested in politics, and at the time, Sir lanka was struggling with both an ethnic civil war involving the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north and a youth insurgency involving the left-wing Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) along the southern coast. After a particularly intensive stretch of violence in 1989 and 1990, the University of Peradeniya was closed. But ISLE carried on, inviting many of Sri Lanka's most prominent historians, political scientists, and language teachers to join us in a temporary program center just above Kandy's beautiful lake. Looking back, it's hard to believe we were lucky enough to study with such luminaries. And indeed I was absolutely captivated, both in and outside of the classroom. In a matter of weeks I learned the basic elements of the Sinhalese script, dabbled in Kandyan dance, and wrote countless essays (by hand). I also travelled, both with our larger group and on my own. I tumbled through the multi-religious terrain of Kataragama, explored the ruins of Anuradhapura and Sigiriya, and examined the colonial past in both Galle (Portuguese) and Nuwara Eliya (British). Truly, the months I spent with ISLE were the most intensive five months of my life.

After Sri Lanka, I travelled to Germany, after which I returned to Bowdoin to write my senior thesis comparing far-left and far-right youth movement in Sri Lanka and Germany. I then applied for PhD programmes in political science. And, as a PhD student at Columbia, my interest in South Asia only grew... even as I also turned away from the study of Sri Lanka toward India and, eventually, to a thesis focsuing on the grassroots politics of Islam and Islamic law in Pakistan. After a post-doctoral fellowship at Yale focusing on the Politics of South Asia and the, a year in the Department of Politics at Bates, I'm now based in the Department of Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. I've also held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. But, even in London, I've found that ISLE is never very far away. On eof my colleagues in the Department of Anthropology at SOAS is a Bates and an ISLE alum. And, even as I write this, I'm part of a research group at the Zentrum fur Interdisziplinare Forschung in Germany with fellow ISLE alum, Ben Schonthal, who teaches at the UNiversity of Otago in NEw Zealand. Out research focuses on the intersection of religion and constitutionalism. (I'm writing about Islam in Pakistan; Ben is writing about Buddhism in Sri Lanka.) Without ISLE, South Asia would not have become such a central part of my life.

Indeed, it is impossible to overstate the impact the ISLE programme has had on my life. Professionally, politically, and personally, I can safely say that ISLE shaped the way I engage with the world.

Karen Pechilis
Professor of Comparative Religion
Department of Comparative Religion
Drew University

Professor Pechilis participated in the ISLE Faculty Residency Program during Summer 2015. This unique opportunity provides room and board, as well as access to the ISLE Center's numerous academic resources, to faculty conducting research in Sri Lanka.
Professor Pechilis writes:
The ISLE Center is located in the beautiful hills of Kandy, a town steeped with Sri Lanka's living history. The Center provides all hospitality amenities plus an excellent library for scholarly study. Scholars in residence have the opportunity to interact with the vibrant Kandy academic community, including faculty at the ISLE Program, Peradeniya University, and the International Center for Ethnic Studies, among other educational organizations. A research residence at the ISLE Program Center is the perfect combination of study, community and culture!

Benjamin Schonthal
Lecturer in Buddhism/Asian Religions
Department of Religion 
University of Otago (New Zealand)

Jonathan Walters
Professor, Department Chair
Department of Religion
Whitman College

Jonathan Young
Assistant Professor 
Department of Philosophy and Religion
University of California, Bakersfield