St. Olaf College Sociology Professor Michael Leming

Ford Foundation Southeast Asia Seminar Member

NORTHFIELD, Minn. -- St. Olaf College sociology faculty member Michael R. Leming is one of 10 professors nationwide who will participate in a two-year faculty development seminar about Southeast Asia.

Leming recently was selected for the ASIANetwork Faculty Development Sminar, a program supported by the Ford Foundation and intended to enhance liberal arts college teaching about Southeast Asia. Leming and nine other seminar participants were chosen after a national search among professors nominated by chief academic officers of their institutions.

Leming will spend the two summers at the seminar, directed by anthropology professors Rita Smith Kipp (Kenyon College) and H. Leedom Lefferts Jr. (Drew University). The seminar is meant for faculty members who are not formally trained in Southeast Asian Studies.

Seminar teachers are experts in anthropology, history, political science and the arts. This summer Leming and the other participants will be matched with mentors, and will have opportunities for discussion, reflection, reading and research. During the summer of 1999, Leming and other participants will spend a week in Vietnam, a week in Thailand and a week in Indonesia, visiting universities and cultural sites and observing and participating in everyday cultural activities. In Thailand Leming will live with a Thai family. Seminar participants and faculty members also will learn from one another, expanding their understanding of the diverse Southeast Asian cultures.

Leming, one of the nation's foremost experts on bereavement, teaches research methods, sociology of the family, sociology of religion, Thai studies and social thanatology at St. Olaf College. He joined the St. Olaf faculty in 1972, spent three years studying at the University of Utah and teaching at Weber State College, and returned to St. Olaf in 1975.

He has written numerous articles about cross-cultural and comparative studies of kinship, religion, death rituals and bereavement behavior. He has written or edited eleven textbooks and anthologies.

He has traveled, studied and taught in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Peoples Republic of China, Hong Kong and Thailand, and has studied the Thai language at Chiang Mai University.

In 1990 and ‘91 he was field supervisor for St. Olaf College's Term in Asia, and for three years served as the program's director, living in Thailand for three months, studying at Chiang Mai University, and consulting with internationally recognized tribal experts at Chiang Mai and Payap universities and at the Hilltribe Research Center.

He returned to Thailand for a month in 1993, ‘94, ‘95 and in January of this year, and has been a visiting research professor at Chiang Mai. In 1995 he was one of three liberal arts college professors who received a $35,000 Pew Evangelical Scholars grant. He used the grant to study the Karen tribe of northern Thailand.

He has visited 14 Karen villages, three Hmong villages, two Lisu villages and five Lahu villages. In collaboration with students he has written two ethnographic monographs on Karen village life and a documentary video to be produced by Pennsylvania State University. Last year Leming joined the St. Olaf Asian studies faculty. He plans to use his ASIANetwork experiences to broaden his teaching beyond sociology.

He earned a bachelor's degree (1970) from Westmont College, a master's from Marquette University and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, and studied at the University of California.


Michael R. Leming, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Saint Olaf College
1500 Saint Olaf Avenue
Northfield, MN 55057


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FAX (507) 646-3933
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