Bonnie Glass-Coffin, PhD Professor of Anthropology and Affiliate Professor of Religious Studies

Bonnie Glass-Coffin, PhD, is a professor of cultural anthropology and religious studies, a shamanism scholar, a visionary and a bridge builder at Utah State University. She believes that educating the whole person (head and heart) should be at the core of a university education. She is deeply committed to providing spaces for students to explore the biggest questions in their lives as part of their university experience. During recent research into campus-readiness for these kinds of conversations on her predominantly LDS, yet public-university campus, she found that students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community faith leaders all wanted to be able to share their religious and spiritual identities with others yet no one, whether members of the religious majority, members of religious/spiritual minority communities, or as explicitly “non-religious” in their identities, felt safe in doing so. Religion was described as “the elephant in the room,” and study participants said that they felt obligated to stay “in the closet” about this most important aspect of identity for a variety of reasons. To address this desire for more authentic sharing, Bonnie has spent the last three years building an Interfaith Initiative on her campus that creates capacity among all members of her campus community for voicing these identities, for learning to engage respectfully and appreciatively with others, and for acting together across “faith-divides” in order to serve the common good. Bonnie is committed to providing ways for students to bring their whole-selves to the table of academic learning because of her experiences over more than 25 years studying with and writing about female shamans in Peru, as well as teaching the diversity-affirming principles of anthropology and religious studies in the classroom. Her books include The Gift of Life: Female Spirituality and Healing in Northern Peru, (1998, University of New Mexico Press) and (with don Oscar Miro-Quesada), Lessons in Courage: Peruvian Shamanic Wisdom for Everyday Life (2013, Rainbow Ridge Books). In 2004, she was named a U.S. Professor of the Year for the State of Utah (awarded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education). She has spoken about her vision for "whole person" learning with university administrators, colleagues and students at places like the President’s Inaugural Lecture (Utah State University), the American Anthropological Association, the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges & Universities and the Parliament of the World’s Religions. She has written about this vision and her commitment to the university as a place of deep exploration and personal transformation in academic and popular outlets including Anthropology and Humanism, the Anthropology of Consciousness, the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, Shaman’s Drum and Sacred Fire Magazine. She is an ordained interfaith/interspiritual minister and she is currently pursuing an MDiv with All Paths Divinity School in Los Angeles, CA.