Todd LeVasseur

Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences and Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Director



I graduated from CofC in 1997 and received my Ph.D. in the study of religion and nature from the University of Florida in 2011.  My training quips me to examine and study the interface of cultural narratives and identities, with a specific focus on those in the domain we label religion, and how these both shape and are shaped by the natural, “more-than-human” world. My work is thoroughly interdisciplinary, while being comparative and historical in scope and method. The overarching research question that guides my scholarly path is how can the human animal, from individual to global scales, learn to actively generate just, regenerative, and sustainable behaviors and lifeways as we move into the Anthropocene, if at all?  This question motivates the courses I teach at The College in religious studies, environmental and sustainability studies, the First Year Experience, and the Honors College.  I am also an affiliated faculty member with Women’s and Gender Studies program.  It also motivates my research, including my forthcoming book from Lexington Press, Climate Change, Religion, and Our Bodily Future.

Administratively I am involved with sustainability in higher education. Since 2016 I have directed The College of Charleston’s SACSCOC re-accreditation project, “Sustainability Literacy as a Bridge to Addressing 21st Century Problems.” This is a campus-wide effort to embed triple bottom line (social, environmental, economic systems) thinking across the curricula through a variety of programming and trainings that I organize and manage.


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
  • Religion and (Sustainable) Agriculture/Food
  • Climate Change
  • Animal Ethics
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Environmental Justice
  • Sustainability and Resilience

Courses Taught

Selected:


Publications

Books

Religious Agrarianism and the Return of Place: From Values to Practice in Sustainable Agriculture. SUNY Press, 2018. Finalist – 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in the Religion category. Gold Medalist – 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Religion Category.

Examines religious communities as advocates of environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture practices. Writing at the interface of religion and nature theory, US religious history, and environmental ethics, Todd LeVasseur presents the case for the emergence of a nascent “religious agrarianism” within certain subsets of Judaism and Christianity in the United States. Adherents of this movement, who share an environmental concern about the modern industrial food economy and a religiously grounded commitment to the values of locality, health, and justice, are creating new models for sustainable agrarian lifeways and practices. LeVasseur explores this greening of US religion through an extensive engagement with the scholarly literature on lived religion, network theory, and grounded theory, as well as through ethnographic case studies of two intentional communities at the vanguard of this movement: Koinonia Farm, an ecumenical Christian lay monastic community, and Hazon, a progressive Jewish environmental group.

Religion and Ecological Crisis: The "Lynn White Thesis" at Fifty.  Routledge, 2017, Edited by Todd LeVasseur and Anna Peterson.  In 1967, Lynn White, Jr.’s seminal article The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis was published, essentially establishing the academic study of religion and nature.  This collection of original essays by leading scholars in a variety of interdisciplinary settings, including religion and nature, environmental ethics, animal studies, ecofeminism, restoration ecology, and ecotheology, considers the impact of White’s arguments, offering constructive criticism as well as reflections on the ongoing, ever-changing scholarly debate about the way religion and culture contribute to both environmental crises and to their possible solutions. Religion and Ecological Crisis addresses a wide range of topics related to White’s thesis, including its significance for environmental ethics and philosophy, the response from conservative Christians and evangelicals, its importance for Asian religious traditions, ecofeminist interpretations of the article, and which perspectives might have, ultimately, been left out of his analysis.

Religion and Sustainable Agriculture: World Spiritual Traditions and Food Ethics. The University Press of Kentucky, 2016, Edited by Todd LeVasseur, Pramod Parajuli, and Norman Wirzba. In this wide-ranging collection, eminent scholars, theologians, activists, and lay farmers illuminate how religious beliefs influence and are influenced by the values and practices of sustainable agriculture. Together, they analyze a multitude of agricultural practices for their contributions to healthy, ethical living and environmental justice. Throughout, the contributors address current critical issues, including global trade agreements, indigenous rights to land and seed, and the effects of postcolonialism on farming and industry. Covering indigenous, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish perspectives, this groundbreaking volume makes a significant contribution to the study of ethics and agriculture.

Published Journal Articles

2020. “Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping: Contemporary Religious Production on a Planet Passing Tipping Points.” Nova Religio. 23.3.

2020. “Dark Green Humility: Religious, Psychological, and Affective Attributes of Pro-Sustainable Behaviors.” With Bron Taylor and Jen Wright. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. 10.1: 41-56. Digital (2019): https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-019-00578-5

2019. “Sustainability Literacy in a Time of Socio-Ecological Crisis: Using Reaccreditation as a Leverage Point for Innovation in Higher Education.” With Chris Ciarcia. Sustainability. 11.18: 5104.

2017. “Decisive Ecological Warfare: Triggering Industrial Collapse via Deep Green Resistance.” Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. 11.1: 109-130.

2016. “’Grow the Scorched Ground Green.’ Values and Ethics in the Transition Movement.” With Garrett Boudinot. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. 10.3: 376-401.

2016. “Methane Dispensers or Bio-Dynamic Beings?  Polysemous Meanings of Domesticated Ruminant Bovines.” Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment. 7.1: 112-127.

2015. “Toward Resilient Food Systems through Increased Agricultural Diversity and Local Sourcing in the Carolinas.” With Janet MacFall (lead author), Jennifer Walker, Joanna Lelekacs, and Steve Moore. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. 5.4: 608-622.

2015. “’The Earth is sui generis:’ Destabilizing the Climate of our Field.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 83:2 (2015) doi: 10.1093/jaarel/lfv023

2015. “Introduction.” Roundtable on Climate Destabilization and the Study of Religion. Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 83:2. doi: 10.1093/jaarel/lfv024

2015. “Is Trash Hybrid?” Green Humanities: A Journal of Ecological Thought in Literature, Philosophy & the Arts. 1.

2015. “Defining ‘Ecolinguistics?’: Emic Views of an Emerging Discipline.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. 5:1: 21-28.

2014. “A ‘Green’ Kataphatic Theology: The Ecospirit of Springbank Retreat Center in Kingstree, S.C.” Journal of the Sociology and Theory of Religion.  3.

2014. “Teaching Sustainability via the Environmental Humanities: Studying Water, Studying Ourselves.”  Journal of Sustainability Education. 7.

2014. “Environmental Philosophy in a Post-Ice Cap North Polar World.”  Environmental Ethics.  36:3: 303-318.

2012. “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 11:33: 62-88.

2012. Contributing author (with William Jordan III [lead author], Nathaniel Barrett, Kip Curtis, Liam Heneghan, Randall Honold, Anna Peterson, Les Thiele, and Gretel Van Wieren), “Foundations of Conduct: A Theory of Values and Its Implications for Environmentalism.” Environmental Ethics 34:3: 291-312.

2012. “The Production of Post-Supernaturalistic Mythopoesis in Contemporary Nature Religion.” Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion 16:1: 50-72.

Published Book Chapters

2019. “When Christ is Maladaptive.” With Bernard Zaleha. Christian Theology and Climate Change. Eds. Ernst Conradie and Hilda Koster. T&T Clark/Bloomsbury: 120-131. (Invited contribution.)

2018. “Strength in Numbers: Ecovillages, Sustainability and Mutual Aid on a Hot and Full Earth.” With Lee Warren. Strongly Sustainable Societies: Organising Human Activities on a Hot and Full Earth. Eds. Karl Johan Bonnedahl and Pasi Heikkurinen. Routledge-Earthscan: 268-285.

2017. “Religion, Language, Ecology.” Handbook of Ecolinguistics. Eds. Alwin Fill and Hermine Penz. Routledge Publishers: 420-433. (Invited contribution.)

2017. “It’s Getting Better and Better, Worse and Worse, Faster and Faster: The Human Animal in the Anthropocene.” Sustainability and Peaceful Coexistence for the Anthropocene. Ed. Pasi Heikkurinen. Routledge Series on Transnational Law and Governance: 87-100.

2017. “Introduction.” With Anna Peterson. In LeVasseur and Peterson, eds. Religion and Ecological Crisis:  The “Lynn White Thesis” at Fifty. New York: Routledge: 1-17.

2016. “Deep Green Resistance: Our Animal Bodies as Sites of Resistance.” Advancing Nonviolence and Social Transformation: New Perspectives on Nonviolence Theories. Ed. Heather Eaton. Bristol: Equinox: 227-239.

2016. “Introduction.” In LeVasseur, Wirzba, and Parajuli, eds. Sustainable Agriculture and Religion: World Spiritual Traditions and Food Ethics. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky: 1-23.

2014. “Koinonia Partners: A ‘Demonstration Plot’ for Food, Fellowship, and Sustainability.” Religion, Food, and Eating in North America. Eds. Benjamin E. Zeller, Marie W. Dallam, Reid L. Neilson, and Nora L. Rubel. New York: Columbia University Press: 253-273.

2013. “Globalizing the Ecovillage Ideal: Networks of Empowerment, Seeds of Hope.” Environmental Anthropology Engaging Ecotopia: Bioregionalism, Permaculture, and Ecovillages. Eds. Joshua Lockyer and Jim Veteto. Oxford, UK: Berghahn Books: 251-268.

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. Eds. Brenda Gardenour and Misha Tadd. New York: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers: 171-188.

2011. “Shame, Ritual and Beauty: Technologies of Encountering the Other--Past, Present, and Future.” Placing Nature on the Borders of Religion, Philosophy and Ethics. Eds. Forrest Clingerman and Mark Dixon. Farnham, UK: Ashgate: 25-44.

Published Encyclopedia Entries

2018. “Incorporation of Sustainability.” Encyclopedia of Sustainability in Higher Education, Ed. Walter Leal Filho, Springer Reference. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-63951-2_507-1

2015. “Agrarianism.”  The SAGE Encyclopedia of Food Issues, Ed. Ken Albala.  SAGE Reference.

2015. “Deforestation for Agriculture.”  The SAGE Encyclopedia of Food Issues, Ed. Ken Albala.  SAGE Reference.

2014. “Biodynamic Agriculture.” Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, Eds. Paul Thompson and David Kaplan, Springer Reference.

2014. “Christian Perspectives on Food and Agricultural Ethics.” Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, Eds. Paul Thompson and David Kaplan, Springer Reference.

2014. “Hazon.” Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, Eds. Paul Thompson and David Kaplan, Springer Reference.

2014. “Permaculture.” Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, Eds. Paul Thompson and David Kaplan, Springer Reference.

2012. “Religious Agrarianism.” The Oxford Encyclopedia on Food and Beverages in America. Second Edition. Ed. Andrew Smith. New York: Oxford University Press.

2012. “Indigenous and Traditional Resource Management.” With Lucas Johnston. The Encyclopedia of Sustainability, Volume 4: Natural Resources and Sustainability.  Eds. Sarah Fredericks, Lei Shen, Shirley Thompson, and Daniel Vasey. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Press.

2011. “Bioregion.” Green Cities. Ed. Nevin Cohen. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Available at http://sk.sagepub.com/reference/greencities

2011. “Composting.” Green Cities. Ed. Nevin Cohen. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Available at http://sk.sagepub.com/reference/greencities

2011. “Ecofascism.” Green Ethics and Philosophy. Ed. Julie Newman. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Available at http://sk.sagepub.com/reference/greenethics

2011. “Ecophenomenology.” Green Ethics and Philosophy. Ed. Julie Newman. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Available at http://sk.sagepub.com/reference/greenethics

2011. “Green Food.” Green Ethics and Philosophy. Ed. Julie Newman. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Available at http://sk.sagepub.com/reference/greenethics

2011. “Organic Trend.” Green Consumerism. Ed. Juliana Mansvelt and Paul Robbins. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Available at http://sk.sagepub.com/reference/greenconsumerism

2009. “Nutrition/Diets.” With Lucas Johnston. Global Resource on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources (GREENR). Ed. Bryan Norton, et al. Florence, KY: Gale Educational Publishing.

2008. “Ecotage and Ecoterrorism.” With Bron Taylor. Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy. Eds. J. Baird Callicott and Robert Frodeman. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference.

Editorials and Non-peer Reviewed Publications

December 26, 2016. “College football has a ‘carbon bomb’ problem.” The Post and Courier.

http://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/commentary/college-football-has-a-carbon-bomb-problem/article_15f30036-cbad-11e6-8a66-bb2c05f9abd2.html

September 22, 2015. “Pope Francis challenges ideologues on climate change.” The Post and Courier. http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150922/PC1002/150929833/1021/

Spring 2014. “A Species-Inclusive Sustainability: Extending the Concept of Community Outwards.” Synergies: A Reader for Regional Sustainability. Issue 1.

March 24, 2013. “Charleston ‘ground zero’ for climate change.” The Post and Courier. http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130324/PC1204/130329639/1268/charleston-ground-zero-for-climate-change