Susan M. Darlington is Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Hampshire College, in Amherst, MA, where she has taught since 1990. Her research focuses on socially engaged Buddhism, with particular attention to environmentalism and Buddhism in Thailand. Based on over twenty years of research, her book, The Ordination of a Tree: The Thai Buddhist Environmental Movement (SUNY Press, 2012), critically examines the ways in which Buddhist monks use their interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings to promote ecological awareness and environmental actions. She has published numerous articles discussing Buddhism and the environment in Thailand and across the Buddhist world.Sue’s research, teaching, and academic advising sit at the intersection of environmental anthropology, religious studies, and Buddhist studies. Her courses at Hampshire include “Culture, Religion, and Environmentalism,” “Buddhism and Environment,” “Land Stories, Land Rights,” and “Rivers of Life and Death.” Central to her work is understanding how different peoples understand and interrelate with nature from multiple perspectives, as well as religious, political, economic, and social influences on concepts of the human/nature relationship.
Currently Sue is part of a faculty team at Hampshire that received the prestigious Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment grant. Her contribution to the project consists of building relations with a community organization in northern Thailand that engages in sustainable agriculture and community development and works with Buddhist monks. She has taken students for a short-term course at the organization to observe and participate in its environmental activities and learn about the role of Buddhism in Thai society and in the environmental movement. Sue heads Hampshire’s Tibetan Studies program through an exchange with the Central University for Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India, and serves on the board of directors for two Tibetan Buddhist organizations: one, Jampel Nyingpo Ling, is based in Amherst, Massachusetts and educates people about Tibetan Buddhism; the other, the Pureland Project, undertakes educational, environmental, and health work in eastern Tibet.Sue graduated from Wellesley College in 1980 with a duel degree in anthropology and history, and received her M.A. (1984) and Ph.D. (1990) in anthropology from the University of Michigan.