Department of Anthropology (ANTH)
Matsunaga Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution (PACE)
American Academy of Religion
American Anthropological Association
Center for Global Nonkilling
Forum on Religion and Ecology/Yale University
Research Institute for Spiritual Ecology (RISE)
B.A. in Geology (geomorphology), Indiana University, 1965
M.A. in Anthropology (biological and cultural), Cornell
Ph.D. in Anthropology (biological and cultural), Cornell University, 1981
Also summer courses in practical field linguistics at University of Oklahoma, primate field research in Awash River area of Ethiopia from New York University, and nutritional field research methods at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Previously visiting instructor or professor at Indiana U, U Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), Mount Royal College (Calgary), Cornell U, U Massachusetts (Amherst), Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigations (Caracas) as Fulbright Fellow, and Prince of Songkla U (Pattani, Thailand) as Fulbright Fellow. Joined the faculty at the University of Hawai'i in 1981. Hired to develop and direct the Ecological Anthropology Program, and did so from 1981-2010 attracting national and international recognition.
1974-81 various field trips to the Venezuelan Amazon to work with Sanema (northern Yanomami subgroup), Ye'kuana, and Curripaco indigenous peoples, latter with grant from the UNESCO-Man and the Biosphere Programme.
1986-2000 various summer field trips to southern Thailand to compare the cultural and spiritual ecology of adjacent Buddhist and Muslim communities.
2000- various summer field trips to northern Thailand to research Buddhist ecology and environmentalism in relation to sacred places and biodiversity conservation.
My most recent trips to northern Thailand focus on developing a long-term multidisciplinary research team to explore with Thai colleagues the possible ecological relations among Buddhist monks, sacred caves, bats, forests, biodiversity, and conservation.
Among many grants received was a Fulbright Fellowship for the summers of 1994-95 in the Biology Department of Prince of Songkla University (Pattani, Thailand) where I also began developing my textbook on ecological anthropology as part of a series of lectures in a general ecology course. The working title for that book is Ecocide or Ecosanity? Towards an Ecological Anthropology of Diversity.
My research has been greatly facilitated by many, but especially my wife Dr. Poranee Natadecha-Sponsel (retired from Chaminade University of Honolulu) and in southern Thailand by Professor Nukul Ruttanadakul (Biology, Prince of Songkhla University in Pattani, Thailand).
Three of my more recent publications that are readily accessible for free online in the Encyclopedia of Earth are located at: http://www.eoearth.org.
"Religion, Nature and Environmentalism"
"Sacred Places and Biodiversity Conservation"
Other publications are listed in my 35-page CV.
With the publication of my book with Praeger in June 2012 titled Spiritual Ecology: A Quiet Revolution, I turn to the development of the Research Institute for Spiritual Ecology (RISE) and its website (http://spiritualecology.info). In addition, previously published journal articles and book chapters are being revised and integrated for a succession of books on different subjects including a texbook on ecological anthropology. For publisher's description of the book see:
See book website which provides a wealth of supplemental information including extensive bibliographies on spiritual ecology and on sacred places: http://spiritualecology.info.
•Spiritual ecology and sacred places, primarily in relation to Buddhism but also to Animism and Hinduism in Thailand. (See http://spiritualecology.info).
• Biodiversity studies in relation to cultural diversity through the approaches of the cultural ecology, historical ecology, political ecology, and spiritual ecology of sacred places
• Anthropology of nonviolence, peace, violence, and war, nonkilling anthropology and nonkilling societies (http://www.nonkilling.org, see free book Nonkilling Societies).
• Cultural change, human rights, applied anthropology, advocacy anthropology, and professional ethics
Twice received Excellence in Teaching Award at UHM.
152 Culture and Humanity
345 Aggression, War and Peace
410 Ethics in Anthropology
415 Ecological Anthropology
422 Anthropology of Religion
423 Social and Cultural Change
435 Human Adaptation to Forests
443 Anthropology of Buddhism
444 Spiritual Ecology
445 Sacred Places
481 Applied Anthropology
482 Environmetnal Anthropology
620H Human Ecology
Developed and directed the Ecological Anthropology Program from 1981-2010.
Remain available for consultation, graduate student committees, and directing 399 and 699 courses.
Still teach one course a semester at the discretion of the Department of Anthropology. Also, offer special courses in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UHM.
ANTH 415 (Fall 2014) : Ecological Anthropology - Download
ANTH 410 (Spring 2014) : Ethics in Anthropology - Download
ANTH 444 (Spring 2013) : Spiritual Ecology - Download
Cross Listed: Religion 444
ANTH 345 (Fall 2012) : Aggression, War and Peace - Download
Cross Listed: PACE 345
ANTH 415 (Fall 2011) : Ecological Anthropology - Download
ANTH 152 (Spring 2010) : Culture and Humanity - Download
ANTH 345 (Spring 2010) : Aggression, War and Peace - Download
Cross Listed: PACE
ANTH 410 (Fall 2009) : Ethics in Anthropology - Download
ANTH 443 (Fall 2009) : Anthropology of Buddhism - Download
Cross Listed: Religion 443
ANTH 444 (Spring 2009) : Spiritual Ecology - Download
Cross Listed: Religion 444
ANTH 620H (Spring 2009) : Human Ecology - Download
ANTH 415 (Fall 2008) : Ecological Anthropology - Download
Spiritual Ecology: A Quiet Revolution (2012): This foundation book is unique in that it provides a historical, cross-cultural context for understanding and advancing the ongoing spiritual ecology revolution, considering indigenous and Asian religious traditions as well as Western ones. Most chapters focus on a single pioneer, illuminating historical context and the individual's legacy, while also connecting their impact to broader concerns.
Bill McKibben (350.org) writes: "This is a subject that should have been documented long ago - this wise and careful book fills an important gap, and does it with real power."
Mary Evelyn Tucker (Forum on Religion and Ecology in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University) writes: "This book is a tour de force. No one has attempted to bring together such a wide range of people and movements under the rubric of spiritual ecology. The result is deeply engaging for scholars and activists alike. Sponsel has given us a gem."
Jeffrey A. McNeely (Senior Science Advisor of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) writes: "Spiritual ecology is essential reading today, when most of the world seems swept up by the economic dimensions of the environment. Providing a welcome antidote to the current materialistic approach, Leslie Sponsel's keen reminder of the spiritual component of nature is both timely and a reminder that the most effective reasons for conservation come from the heart, not from the wallet."
For more information please see book website:
Type: Books of original scholarship–author/co-author
Keywords: spiritual ecology, religion and ecology, religion and nature, religious environmentalism
Sacred Caves of Northern Thailand (2015 -): Ongoing long-term field research project each summer on visits to Thailand focused on sacred caves in the north.
Spiritual Ecology: A Bibliographic Essay (2013 -): Researched an invited bibliographic essay of 125 books on spiritual ecology as the feature article in CHOICE, a magazine for acquisition librarians that reaches 25,000 colleges and universities. Now published: Sponsel, Leslie E., 2014 (April), “Spiritual Ecology: Is it the Ultimate Solution for the Environmental Crisis,” CHOICE 51(8):1339-1342, 1344-1348
Type: Education and Training
Green Book Festival - Science Category (2014): Winner in Science Category at the Green Book Festival, San Francisco, CA, May 17, 2014 for my book Spiritual Ecology: A Quiet Revolution (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2012).