Current Visiting Scholars

The CSWR has the following visiting scholars for the 2017–18 academic year:

Deinde Alade has over 30 years of experience in the fields of public accounting, management consulting, information technology, investment banking and the pharmaceutical industry.  He is currently a senior manager for Worldwide Compliance and Business Ethics at Amgen Biotechnology in Thousand Oaks, CA. Deinde holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration, MBA, from the University of San Francisco, California and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, BSc, from the University of Ife in Nigeria where he studied under the pioneer Nigerian Economic Historian, Professor R. Olufemi Ekundare.  In addition, he has a graduate certificate in Health Care Compliance, HCC, from Seton Hall University in New Jersey.   He also has a diploma in Database Administration from the Chubb Institute in Parsippany, New Jersey, utilizing the Oracle relational database management system. Prior to joining Amgen, Deinde was project manager and coordinator for enterprise risk management at Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Systems, the multibillion dollar healthcare corporation, where he orchestrated the development and maintenance of business process handoffs and service level agreements between the parent company and 21 independent operating companies. Prior to his role at Johnson & Johnson, Deinde held several management positions at the international consulting firm, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), including as compliance manager for the comprehensive information technology services outsourcing for the J.P. Morgan bank, the first in the investment banking industry.  Deinde began his working career as a Senior Supervisor in Nigeria’s Central Bank at both the Calabar and Ibadan branches.


Nicholas Boylston studies Islamic intellectual history and Persian literature through the lenses of religious, intellectual and literary pluralism. He recently defended his dissertation at Georgetown University and hold a BA from Harvard and an MA from the University of Tehran. He is particularly interested in the way 12th century Persian authors created texts that are discursively pluralistic - drawing on multiple sources and espousing multiple intellectual and ethical perspectives - whilst also maintaining both narrative and intellectual consistency. He also researches the role of literature as a means of negotiating multiple religious identities in late Qajar Iran, focusing on the versified commentary and translation of the Qur’an by the Shi’ite Sufi, Safi ‘Ali-Shah. These projects are part of a wider concern for understanding how Muslim authors have come to terms with the diversity of their own tradition and understood the religious other in differing cultural contexts. He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled The Kaleidoscope of Reality: Pluralism and Perspectivism in 12th Century Persian Metaphysical Literature, and is continuing his work on the complex relationships between Shi'ism and Sufism through history.

Steven Kepnes is Professor of World Religions and Jewish Studies and Director of Chapel House at Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y.   Kepnes is a founding member of the Society of Scriptural Reasoning which focuses on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim dialogue based on group readings of scripture.  He has taught at the Rabbinic School of the Jewish Theological Seminary in Jerusalem, the Religious Studies program at the University of Virginia and the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome.  He is the author of seven books, including The Future of Jewish Theology (Wiley Blackwell 2013), Jewish Liturgical Reasoning, (Oxford, 2007) and with Basit Koshul,   Scripture, Reason, and the Contemporary Islam-West Encounter (Palgrave, 2007).  His current research involves a textbook in scriptural reasoning as well as an extended history of Jewish Theology.

Michael Motia received his MDiv from Harvard Divinity School and his PhD in religion from Harvard University, where his work focused on the formation of selfhood in late antiquity. His dissertation, “The Mimetic Life: Imitation and Infinity in Gregory of Nyssa,” examined the roles of mimesis in Greek philosophical schools and early Christian formation, especially as they related to the fourth-century bishop Gregory of Nyssa. The project highlights the mimetic names, spaces, and characters that shaped the early Christian imagination. He is currently working on articles on mystical theology and on the Syriac reception of Gregory of Nyssa, as well as a larger project on the production of space in late antiquity.

Devin Singh is Assistant Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College, where he teaches classes on Christian thought, social ethics, and philosophy of religion. His primary area of research examines the intersection of religion and the economy, bringing him into conversation with monetary theory, political theology, and questions of secularization and the post-secular. Singh received his PhD in religious studies from Yale University, where he was named a Whiting Fellow, Yale’s highest recognition for research in the humanities, and where he was also appointed a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Integrated Humanities. During his time at the CSWR, Singh will be completing work on his first book, Divine Currency: The Theological Power of Money in the West, to be published with Stanford University Press in spring 2018. He will also commence work on his second book, When Debt Becomes God, to be published with Harvard University Press. As a visiting scholar at the CSWR, Singh will also undertake a research project around the question, “Global Capitalism as World Religion?”

Ching-ning Wang (Changshen Shih) received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Women’s Studies Program Certificate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is a Buddhist nun from Taiwan and was the 2016-17 Research Associate and Visiting Faculty at the Women’s Studies in Religion Program, Harvard Divinity School. She taught the graduate-level seminar titled “Women and Contemporary Buddhism” in Spring 2017. As a visiting scholar at CSWR this year, she will work on her book manuscript “The Making of a Modern Female Chan Teacher: Gender, Buddhism, and Modernity.”

Wang’s concentrations in sociology were gender/sexuality, globalization, post-colonialism, and cultural studies of science and technology etc. Her Ph.D dissertation “Buy a PC, otherwise Get Married: What the Phenomenon of Lala Teaches Us” is an exploration of an under-studied phenomenon of the formation of female same-sex identity through the use of the Internet in China at the end of 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. After she got her degree, she went back to Taiwan to become a nun at Dharma Drum Mountain monastery, receiving six years of monastic training. Since 2010, she has lectured at Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts and taught courses such as Chan Meditation, Contemplation Theory and Meditation Practice in the Mahayana Traditions, and Women and Contemporary Buddhism.  As both a scholar and practitioner, Wang’s unique cross-disciplined background from feminism, religion and sociology to meditation practice and monasticism enriches not just published papers both in Chinese and in English but also her presentations and participation in numerous international conferences as well as university and community service related to these topics.


January 2018

John E. Cort is Professor of Asian and Comparative Religions at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where he also holds the Judy Gentili Chair in International Studies. He has a Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard ('89), and was a resident of CSWR as a graduate student. His research focuses on the Jains, and on religion, culture and history of western India more broadly. He is the author of Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India (2001), Framing the Jina: Narratives of Icons and Idols in Jain History (2010), and, with Lawrence A. Babb and Michael W. Meister, Desert Temples: Sacred Centers of Rajasthan in Historical, Art-Historical, and Social Contexts (2008). During his time at CSWR as a Visiting Scholar he will be working to finish a book with the working title Naked Devotion: The Devotional Culture of the Digambar Jains in Early Modern North India.

Margaret (Maggie) Lowe, Professor of American history and Coordinator of Global Religious Studies at Bridgewater State University, specializes in the Progressive Era, American women, gender, religious literacy, and first-person studies.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst/Five College Graduate Program in History (1996) and Master of Divinity from Harvard University (2015).  Founder of the BSU Global Religious Studies program, she led the university in launching a new minor in GRS in fall 2017.      Her publications include Looking Good:  College Women and Body Image, 1875-1930, (JHUP 2003), From Megaphones to Microphones: Women’s Public Discourse, 1920-1960 with Susan Ross & Sandra Sarkala (Praeger 2003) and “’How Very Wrong They Are, How Little They Know:’ Diary-keeping, Private Anguish, Public Bodies and Modern Female Subjectivity,” Journal of Historical Biography (Spring 2014).  She is presently at work on a new project entitled Women to Whom God has Spoken: A Memoir