Leslie Sponsel

Leslie E. Sponsel, PhD

Professor Emeritus

Spiritual Ecology: A Quiet Revolution

For more information, see: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/sponsel/

Research Institute for Spiritual Ecology (RISE)

General Interests
Current Research
Courses Taught

Selected Publications

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Contact Information


B.A. in Geology (geomorphology), Indiana University, 1965
M.A. in Anthropology (biological and cultural), Cornell University, 1973
Ph.D. in Anthropology (biological and cultural), Cornell University, 1981

Previously visiting instructor or professor at Indiana University, University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), Mount Royal College (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), Cornell University, University of Massachusetts (Amherst), Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigations (Caracas), and Prince of Songkla University (Pattani, Thailand).

Joined the faculty at the University of Hawai'i on August 1, 1981, and retired on August 1, 2010. Hired to develop and maintain the Ecological Anthropology Program.

General Interests

  • Ecological anthropology, environmental anthropology
  • Spiritual ecology
  • Buddhist ecology and environmentalism
  • Sacred places in nature (especially in relation to biodiversity studies and conservation)
  • Anthropology of nonviolence, peace, violence, and war; and nonkilling anthropology and nonkilling societies
  • Cultural change, human rights, applied anthropology, advocacy anthropology, and professional ethics
  • Mainland Southeast Asia (Thailand, Buddhism) and Amazon (Venezuela, Yanomami)

Current Research

Annual field trips in northern Thailand involve a long-term research project focused on exploring the possible ecological interrelationships among sacred caves, Buddhist monks, bats, forests, biodiversity, and conservation.

With the publication in June 2012 by Praeger of my book Spiritual Ecology: A Quiet Revolution I turn to developing the related Research Institute for Spiritual Ecology (RISE) and its website. For details of the book, see the publisher’s description.

In addition, published journal articles and book chapters based on decades of previous research will be revised and integrated for a succession of books on the topics of Buddhist ecology and environmentalism; ecological anthropology; anthropology of violence, war, nonviolence, peace, and human rights; Amazon, Yanomami, and the Darkness in El Dorado controversy; and other subjects (see list of publications in CV).

Selected Publications (last five years)

Journal Articles

2014 (April), Feature Article - “Spiritual Ecology: Is it the Ultimate Solution for the Environmental Crisis,” CHOICE 51(8):1339-1342, 1344-1348.

2014 (Summer), “Spiritual Ecology: The New Revolution in Consciousness,” Sufi Journal 87:18-23.

2017, “The Anthropology of Peace and Nonviolence,” Diogenes 61(3-4):30-45.

Book Chapters

2014, “The Role of Spiritual Ecology in Nonkilling,” in Nonkilling Spiritual Traditions, Joam Evans and Pradeep Dakhal, eds., Honolulu, HI: Center for Global Nonkilling, pp. 15-34.

2015, “Sacred Caves of the World: Illuminating Darkness,” in The Changing World Religions Map, Stan Brunn, and Donna A. Gilbreath, eds., New York, NY: Springer, 1:503-522.

2016, “Spiritual Ecology and Radical Environmentalism,” in Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology, Willis Jenkins, Mary Evelyn Tucker, and John Grim, eds., New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 218-226.

2017, “Lynn White, Jr., One Catalyst in the Historical Development of Spiritual Ecology,” in Lynn White Retrospective after 50 Years, Todd LaVasseur and Anna Peterson, eds. New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, pp. 89-102.

2017, “Buddhist Environmentalism,” in Teaching Buddhism: New Insights on Understanding and Presenting Traditions, Todd Lewis and Gary Delaney DeAngelis, eds., New York, NY: Oxford University Press (co-author Poranee Natadecha-Sponsel), pp. 318-343.

2017 “Spiritual Ecology, Sacred Places, and Biodiversity Conservation,” in Routledge Handbook of Environmental Anthropology, Helen Kopnina and Eleanor Shoreman-Quimet, eds., New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 132-143.

2018, “Love in/of Nature: Biophilia, Topophilia, and Solastalgia,” in Love in the Time of Ethnography: Essays on Connection as a Focus and Basis of Research, Lucinda Carspecken, ed., Lanham: Lexington, pp. 17-34.

Reference Work Articles

2013, “Human Impact on Biodiversity: Overview,” in Encyclopedia of Biodiversity (Second Edition), Simon Asher Levin, Editor-in-Chief, Waltham, MA: Academic Press 4:136-152.

2015. “Advocacy in Anthropology,” in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), James D. Wright, Editor-in-Chief, Oxford, UK: Elsevier 1:223–228.

2015. “Peace and Nonviolence: Anthropological Aspects,” in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), James D. Wright, Editor-in-Chief, Oxford, UK: Elsevier 17:624–630.

2016, “Amazon: Environment and Nature,” and “Buddhism: Environment and Nature,” in Encyclopedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures (Third Edition online), Helaine Selin, ed., The Netherlands: Springer.

2016, “Buddhism and Ecology,” “Sacred Places,” and “Spiritual Ecology,” in Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion (Second Edition), David A. Leeming, ed., Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

2016, “Sacred Ecology,” in International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Hilary Callan, ed., London, UK” Wiley-Blackwell.

2016, “Ethics in Anthropology,” Oxford Bibliographies Online, New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

2018, “Spiritual Ecology,” in Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene, Dominick DellaSala, ed., New York, NY: Elsevier, Inc. 4:181-184.

Book Reviews

2013 “Sacred Species and Sites: Advances in Biocultural Conservation, Gloria Pungetti, Gonzalo Oviedo, and Della Hooke, eds.” Quarterly Review of Biology 88(3):239-240.

2014, “The Handbook of Contemporary Animism, Graham Harvey,” CHOICE 51(10).

2014, “Caring for Place: Ecology, Ideology, and Emotion in Traditional Landscape Management, E.N. Anderson,” CHOICE 52(1).

2014, “Religion and Sustainability: Social Movements and the Politics of the Environment, Lucas F. Johnston,” Journal of Ecological Anthropology 17(1).

2014, “The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman, Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert,” Tipiti: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America 12(2):172-177.

2016, “Review Essay: Ecology and Religion, John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker,” Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 10(1):117-126.

2017, “Moral Ecology of a Forest: The Natural History and Maya Post-Conservation, Jose E. Martinez-Reyes,” CHOICE 54(10).

2017, “For the Wild: Ritual and Commitment in Radical Eco-Activism, Sarah M. Pike,” CHOICE 55(9).

2018, “Runaway: Gregory Bateson, the Double Bind, and the Rise of Ecological Consciousness, Anthony Chaney,” CHOICE 55(10).

Reprinted Publications

2014, “Ecological Noble or Ignoble?,” in Spiritual Ecology: A Quiet Revolution, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2012, Chapter 3, pp. 21-30. Reprinted in Religions and Environments: A Reader in Religion, Nature and Ecology, Richard Bohannon, New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 93-99.

2019, “Reflections on the Possibilities of a Nonkilling Society and a Nonkilling Anthropology,” Toward a Nonkilling Paradigm, Joam Evans Pim, ed., 2009, Honolulu, HI: Center for Global Nonkilling, pp. 35-72. Reprinted in Militarism: A Critical Reader, David Vine, et al., eds., Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Courses Taught

Syllabi and extensive resource guides for my courses are available on my faculty homepage of the College of Social Sciences.

I continue to teach one course each semester at the discretion of the Department of Anthropology.

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Curriculum Vita



Research Institute for Spiritual Ecology (RISE)

Contact Information

Dr. Leslie E. Sponsel
Professor Emeritus
Department of Anthropology
University of Hawai`i
2424 Maile Way – Saunders Hall 321
Honolulu, HI 96822-2223 USA

Office Phone: (808) 956-3770
Fax: (808) 956-4893
Email: sponsel@hawaii.edu