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Grace G. Burford, Ph.D. - Faculty, Professor of Religious Studies

Grace G. Burford, Ph.D.

Academic Statement (Return to top)

Grace’s professional interests focus on understanding the world’s religious traditions as the components of culture through which humans infuse our individual and social experiences with meanings that, in turn, motivate and guide our behaviors and choices.  She brings to her work substantial experience in the study of Asian religions, especially Buddhism, and over twenty-five years of teaching about the world’s major religions.  At Prescott College, in addition to teaching courses devoted to Buddhism and to World Religions, Grace has created courses in which she engages students in explorations of the roles of religion in contemporary issues and developments such as environmental activism, globalization, gender and sexuality, social change, and modern science.  Grace also contributes to the professional field of Religious Studies through her active participation in the American Academy of Religion (AAR).  In addition to presenting her research at national AAR conferences, Grace serves in leadership roles for AAR program units such as Buddhism; Women and Religion; Academic Teaching and Study of Religion; Lesbian and Feminist Issues in Religion; and Buddhist Critical-Constructive Reflection.  She has also served on the AAR’s National Committee on Teaching and Learning. Grace is also involved in Buddhist-Christian dialogue work, primarily through her participation in the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies.



Background & Experience

Selected Publications (Return to top)

"A Pivotal Decade in the Life and Work of I. B. Horner." In Religious Studies News 23:2 (March 2008): 21.

Essays on "Isaline B. Horner" and "The Pali Text Society." In The Encyclopedia of Religion. 2nd ed. Macmillan Reference, 2005.

"The Nuts and Bolts of Site Visits." In Religious Studies News: Spotlight on Teaching 19:4 (October 2004): v & xiv.

"A Buddhist Reflects (Practices Reflection) on Some Christians’ Reflections on Buddhist Practices." In Christians Talk About Buddhist Meditation, Buddhists Talk About Christian Prayer. Ed. Rita M. Gross and Terry C. Muck. Continuum, 2003: 55-60.

"If the Buddha Is So Great, Why Are All These People Christian?" In Buddhists Talk About Jesus, Christians Talk About the Buddha. Ed. Rita M. Gross and Terry C. Muck. Continuum, 2000: 131-37.

"Issues of Inclusion and Exclusion in Feminist Theology." The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 16 (2000), no.2: 84-90.

"Hope, Desire, and Right Livelihood: A Buddhist View on the Earth Charter." In Buddhist Perspectives on the Earth Charter. Boston Research Center for the 21st Century, 1997: 27-35.

"Theravada Buddhist Soteriology and the Paradox of Desire." In Paths to Liberation: The Marga and Its Transformations in Buddhist Thought. Ed. Robert E. Buswell Jr., and Robert M. Gimello. Kuroda Institute Studies in East Asian Buddhism 7. Univ. of Hawaii Pr., 1992: 37-61.

Desire, Death, and Goodness: The Conflict of Ultimate Values in Theravada Buddhism, Peter Lang Publishing, 1991.

Research (Return to top)

Grace is currently writing a biography of Isaline B. Horner, a British scholar best known for her 20th-century contributions to the understanding of Buddhism in the English-speaking West through her editions and translations of the Pali scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. Building on Grace's engagement with some of the same areas of Buddhist Studies that fascinated Horner throughout the twentieth century – understanding the roles of women in Buddhism, translating Buddhist teachings for contemporary westerners, and relating those teachings to contemporary issues and challenges – this first-ever biography of Horner will contribute fresh historical material and analysis from a feminist perspective to 21st-century discussions of the transmission of Asian religions to the West, Orientalism, and cultural globalization. This book will also trace the personal side of Horner's life, as an illuminating case study of one woman's firsthand experience of 20th-century developments in women's education, colonialism, post-colonialism, feminism, and same-sex relations.

Grace is also participating in a project of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies in which Christian and Buddhist scholars are considering the question "Can/Should Buddhists and Christians do buddhology/theology together?"




Awards, Grants, & Honors (Return to top)

American Academy of Religion Research Assistance Grant, 2005-2006.

Science and Religion Course Grant, Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, 2001.

Lilly-Luce Grant (funded participation in the year-long AAR Western Region Teaching Workshop "Teaching in the Global Village: The Shape of the Field and Its Impact on Teaching Religious Studies and Theology"), 2000-2001.

Invited member, National Academic Advisory Committee for the Joseph Campbell: Transformations of Myth Through Time PBS Adult Learning Service course, 1989.


Education (Return to top)

Ph.D., Northwestern University, History and Literature of Religions, 1983.

M.A., University of Chicago, Divinity School, Religious Studies, 1978.

B.A. With Distinction, Swarthmore College, Religion, 1977.

Expertise (Return to top)

Grace’s primary area of expertise is the history, teachings, practices, and literature of Buddhism, especially the Theravada branch of Buddhism, and the history of the transmission of Buddhism to the West; she is currently writing a biography of the 20th-century British scholar of Buddhism, I. B. Horner. Grace’s expertise also includes academic teaching and learning about religion, and the roles of religion in contemporary issues and developments such as environmental activism, globalization, gender and sexuality, social change, and modern science. She is also involved in Buddhist-Christian dialogue.


Academic Involvement at Prescott College (Return to top)


Areas of Study


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Aug 19
All Day – Limited Residency Undergraduate Program Fall 2015 Orientation
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