Donald Swearer Returns to HDS

Donald K. Swearer, who recently retired from a long, distinguished career at Swarthmore College, will spend the next three years at Harvard Divinity School as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies. In addition, he will serve as director of the Center for the Study of World Religions. 

Swearer was most recently the Charles and Harriet Cox McDowell Professor of Religion at Swarthmore, where he had taught since 1970. In 2000-01, he was at HDS as the Hershey Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies. "We are very lucky to have Don return to HDS as teacher and scholar, and additionally lucky to have him at the head of the CSWR," Dean William A. Graham said in announcing the appointment in June.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the three faculty members—Diana Eck, Janet Gyatso, and Davíd Carrasco—who labored long and hard on our behalf to review the work of the CSWR and offer a variety of suggestions for the future activities and directions of the Center's programs," Graham continued. "I am especially indebted to Diana for her willingness to take on the acting directorship this past academic year, on top of her teaching, Mastership, and directorship of the Pluralism Project. The work that she and the committee did will provide a strong basis for the Center under Don's leadership."

Swearer's scholarly work has ranged widely in comparative and Asian religions, but his major field of research is Buddhism in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand; comparative religious ethics; and Buddhist-Christian dialogue. His book Becoming the Buddha: The Ritual of Image Consecration in Thailand has just been published by Princeton University Press.

"Having thoroughly enjoyed my year as a visiting professor at HDS in 2000-01, I'm looking forward with great anticipation to my return," Swearer said earlier this summer. "Directing the CSWR will be a special privilege and challenge as I work with the HDS faculty and staff to bring the Center even more centrally into the life of the Divinity School and the University, and strive to enhance its contribution to the field of religious studies."