Kathryn Blanchard

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, a liberal arts education “is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world.”[1] It is, in other words, not simply about job readiness; it is also about learning the skills necessary to promoting pluralism and participating in civil society. In the global community we live in, the comparative study of religion is something global citizens cannot safely ignore.

Because of religion’s salience, religious studies can be not just academically but also personally challenging. The world’s religious traditions have arisen out of human beings’ attempts to organize and theorize the most important and puzzling parts of their lives – things like family, society, sexuality, economics, food, politics, and death. To spend time wrestling with humanity’s diverse responses to life’s big questions and problems takes effort and imagination, as well as perseverance and curiosity. It means, moreover, accepting that our studies will not necessarily offer any satisfying answers. But those who invest themselves fully in this endeavor will be rewarded by living in an expanded and more fascinating universe.

[1] AAC&U, “What Is a 21st Century Liberal Education?” Online:


Charles A. Dana Professor of Religious Studies; Chair of Religious Studies, Sociology & Anthropology


Religious Studies

Educational Background

  • M.B.A., Central Michigan University
  • Ph.D., Duke University, Graduate Department of Religion
  • M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary
  • B.A., Religious Studies, Kenyon College



My career at Alma began in


My expertise:

I am interested in the complicated ways contemporary religious people integrate their theological understandings and their everyday lives. I have a particular interest in how Christians think about economic justice, especially as it intersects with questions of business and the environment. 

Signature course(s):

Women, Gender, & Religion; What is Religion?; Religion, Business, & the Environment; African-American Religion

Recent publications:

  • An Introduction to Christian Environmentalism, with Kevin O’Brien, Baylor University Press, 2014.
  • Lady Parts: Biblical Women and ‘The Vagina Monologues’, with Jane Webster, Wipf & Stock 2012. (This edited volume includes monologues written by six Alma College alumnae based on their independent research: Meredith Brown ’12; De’Anna Daniels ’10; Emily Havelka ’11; Jess Paige ’12; Dolly Van Fossan ’11; Maggie Watters ’12.)
  • The Protestant Ethic or the Spirit of Capitalism: Christians, Freedom, and Free Markets, Cascade 2010. 

Recent grants:

Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religious Studies (2016-2018)

Louisville Institute, Sabbatical Grant for Researchers (2012-2013)

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