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Faculty

Natalie Gummer, Ph.D., is Professor in the Religious Studies Program at Beloit College. Professor Gummer, a literary and cultural historian of Buddhism with a doctorate from Harvard University (2000), studies the intersection of textual practices (especially ritual practices, oral performance, and translation) and ethics in premodern Mahāyāna Buddhist literary cultures. She teaches courses in comparative religion and Asian religions, with particular attention to religious ethics, processes of acculturation, and religious conceptions of language in both contemporary and premodern contexts. Professor Gummer contributes actively to Asian Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and International Education on campus. She is co-editor of Defining Buddhism(s): A Reader, and the author of several articles on Buddhist literary culture and pedagogical approaches to the study of religion. She is currently working on a study of late Vedic cosmology in Mahāyāna sūtras, and a translation of the Suvaraprabhāsottamasūtra (The Sūtra of Utmost Golden Radiance), a Mahāyāna Buddhist Sanskrit text that theorizes its own transformative power.

Debra Majeed, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair in the Philosophy & Religious Studies Department at Beloit College. A religious historian, Professor Majeed has made the interconnection between religion, gender and culture central to her life’s work. She is the first African American female and first Muslim to be tenured in the 162-year history of Beloit College. Professor Majeed received her doctorate in Religious & Theological Studies from Northwestern University in 2001. Her research and writing reflect Majeed’s concern with issues of social, political, racial and religious injustice, particularly in regards to women. She has published in CrossCurrents, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Teaching Theology and Religion, the Encyclopedia of Religious Freedom, the Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in America, the Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Cultures, the Pakistan Journal of Women’s Studies, and Delving Deeper Shades of Purple: Charting Twenty Years of Womanist Approaches in Religion and Society, among others. Her current project, “Encounters of Intimate Sisterhood? Polygyny in the World of African American Muslims,” is forthcoming from University Press of Florida. An international speaker, Professor Majeed is actively engaged in interfaith dialogue. She also has served as a resource for several media groups including the Washington Post, and has appeared on NPR’s “News & Notes.”

Patricia Walters, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor in the Religious Studies Department at Beloit College.  Her chief position, however, is the Coordinator of Religious Studies at Rockford University in Rockford, Illinois.  Awarded a Ph.D. with distinction from Loyola University Chicago in 2005, Professor Walters has written The Assumed Authorial Unity of Luke and Acts published by Cambridge University Press (2009). In addition, she edited a volume  titled Festschrift in Honor of Thomas H. Tobin, S. J., published by Brill Publishers and Novum Testamentum Supplements (November, 2010).  Chapter contributions include “The Synoptic Problem” in The Blackwell Companion to the New Testament (March, 2010) and various book reviews for Religious Studies Review (2003, 2010). Recent papers include (A) "Luke-Acts Interrupted: A Challenge to the Authorial Unity of Luke and Acts" presented at the Chicago Society of Biblical Research, 2013; (B) “Challenging the Unchallenged: the Authorial Unity of Luke and Acts” presented at the 2010 Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Professor Walters also holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

Christopher M. Jones, Ph.D., is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Program for the 2014-2015 academic year. Though trained as a biblical scholar, Professor Jones teaches broadly in Jewish studies and in religious studies more generally. Professor Jones’s abiding interest, both as a research and as a teacher, lies in the study of how human beings use whatever resources they have at hand to transform their world into someplace where they can live. In the classroom, Professor Jones’s students study religion as a form of practice, a cluster of things that people do for eminently practical reasons. These preoccupations are also present in Professor Jones’s research, which considers the literary construction of space in early Jewish literature and the use of writing as a trope for the representation of political power, especially in colonial contexts. Professor Jones is also active in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning movement and is writing a chapter in G. Brooke Lester, Understanding Bible by Design (Minneapolis: Fortress, forthcoming), on the use of Understanding by Design in his courses at Beloit College.