CHARLES S. PREBISH
Home Telephone: 814/308-8630
Unit 137 Cell Phone: 814/571-0220
State College, Pennsylvania 168003 (USA)
Charles Prebish is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the Pennsylvania State University, where
he served on the faculty from 1971 until 2006. He is also Charles Redd Chair in Religious Studies Emeritus at
Utah State University, where he served from January 2007 until December 2010.
At Penn State he was the thirteenth member of the Religious Studies Department, created and organized
by Luther H. Harshbarger, and just beginning a new graduate program focusing on religion in American culture.
When he retired from Penn State, he assumed duties as the first holder of the Charles Redd Endowed
Chair in Religious Studies at Utah State University, where he also served as Director of the Religious Studies
. This program was the first degree granting Religious Studies Program in the Intermountain West.
Although his formal training in Buddhist
Studies initially centered on early Indian Buddhism, with special
attention to the disciplinary literature known as Vinaya and the development of the monastic system, upon
arriving at Penn State he quickly became interested in Buddhism's development on the North American continent.
In this way he could continue his classical studies of Buddhism while also contributing to the major aspect of
the Religious Studies Department's graduate program. He has maintained these research interests throughout
his career. During his career he published over twenty books and nearly one hundred articles and chapters.
For those interested in the specifics of his academic record, one can examine his vitae.
In addition to his research at Penn
State, he has been extremely active in a number of professional
In this way it was possible to play an active role in the development of his field while living and working
in a lovely setting away from the hustle and bustle of the modern mega-cities. Prebish was one of the initial
officers in the International Association of Buddhist Studies, and the Co-Founder of what is now the Buddhism
Section of the American Academy of Religion. He is also considered a pioneer in the study of Western forms
of Buddhism, having established this enterprise as a sub-discpline in the larger domain of Buddhist Studies.
The advent of the Internet has further
enhanced the ability of scholars in various aspects of international
fields to communicate on a regular basis. This is especially important in a discipline such as Buddhist
Studies, where the majority of scholars lives outside the United States. To facilitate the process of
international communication, and to explore the new process of online publication, in 1994 he Co-Founded
the Journal of Buddhist Ethics with Damien Keown, a colleague and friend at Goldsmiths College, University
of London. This journal, the first of its kind in Religious Studies, led to other editing responsibilities, and this
aspect of his work occupied a significant portion of his professional life. He and Keown also created a
revolutionary new project which focused on creating affordable eTextbooks for courses in Religious Studies. This
enterprise, known as the Journal of Buddhist Ethics eBook Project, has made a major impact on textbook publishing
in Religious Studies. In addition, he Co-Edited the Routledge "Critical Studies in Buddhism" series from 1996 until
2006. He continues to Co-Edit the Routledge "Introducing World Religions" series, and was Co-Editor of the
Routledge Encyclopedia of Religion.
Like all faculty members in the
discipline of Religious Studies, teaching
occupied a major component of his
mandated responsibility. He used this aspect of his career to create courses that reflected and enhanced
his research interests, thus allowing his scholarly interests to interpenetrate in a meaningful way that benefited
his colleagues and students alike. Along the way, he was fortunate enough to hold Visiting Professorships
at Naropa Institute (in the summers of 1974 and 1975) and the University of Calgary (where he held the
Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies in fall 1993). In addition, he had a sabbatical leave in 1978-79 at the
University of California at Berkeley and Graduate Theological Union, where he also taught at Nyingma
Institute. In 1997-98 he spent the academic year as Rockefeller Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Religion
at the University of Toronto.
In 2005 Prebish was honored by his Buddhist Studies colleagues with a "festschrift" volume entitled Buddhist